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Go Ahead. Insult This Article.

  • Go Ahead. Insult This Article.

As a copywriter, sometimes my writing flies off my fingers, and is awarded enthusiastic head nods in our agency, from our clients and even their customers or clients. But copy, like art, is subjective. Sometimes the copy flies off my fingers and is met with stone-cold stares, or head scratching, or both. Or, most commonly, nods from one person, head-scratches from another.

I’m sometimes asked, “What’s the most important part of writing copy?” Is it a grasp of grammar? Is it a keen insight into the psychology of the target audience? Is it being armed with research and keywords—the science that ensures copy can be logically dissected and searched?

I nod. Yes. Those are all vital tools. But the most important part of being a writer? Having a thick skin.

Anyone who has a subjective and creative job likely shares this skill … and advertising copy is as much creativity and preference as it is science. Science can be proven. Argued. But tonality, sentence structure, the choice of verb, or even the “big idea” may resonate with one person and leave someone else cold. I remember my first agency job, years and years ago. I was called into my boss’s boss’s boss’s office, the head Creative Director of our $500 million agency. He held a radio script in his hands.

“Did you write this?” he asked, his voice dripping with distaste. I nodded. “This is trite and banal.” He dropped the script into his trash can. Then, he waved me out.

That was, maybe, the only thing our ECD said to me in a year. But I knew not to take his comment personally. He didn't think I was “trite and banal,” or at least I don’t think he did. I took it as a challenge to write something better. And I did. The client loved my final spot.

It’s those victories that keep us “creatives” going. Every Pepper Group project has likely faced a head shake or two before it leaves our doors. But our skins are plenty thick. We’ve learned those head shakes just make our successes that much sweeter.

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