My growing years in advertising were at an agency which was considered king of the print medium and that’s perhaps the reason for my love for the print medium. ‘No one has the time to read so much copy’ has been the refrain against long copy ads – especially from clients. ‘Depends’ has been the weak answer from the agency folk. As Howard Gossage said (borrowed from here), ‘People read what interests them. And sometimes that’s an ad.’
I remember reading this in the context of a ‘Writing Skills’ presentation: ‘those who think well, write well’. I feel some of the approaches to creating good advertising (analyzing the product, understanding competition, putting down a cogent argument for your brand) are brought to test very well when you write long copy ads. I still remember the joy of reading the body copy of print ads from the likes of Chris Rozario and Alok Nanda on brands like Grindwell Norton, Mauritius Tourism etc. (By the way, I am desperately looking for a set of long copy ads done for Grindwell Norton by Chris Rozario in 1990).
In India, there is hardly any encouragement from industry bodies to revive or promote the art of classical copywriting – forget long copy. Most of the youngsters who want to get into the industry or have some experience in agencies seem keen only about television and digital. They seem to have forgotten the art of copywriting and quality of their English sucks. I am re-reading ‘Hey Whipple, Squeeze This’ – this time on my Kindle for iPad (there, I completed my mandatory plug for an Apple product) and I feel it must be made mandatory reading for every copywriter who joins advertising today. Yes, I am all for moving with the times and all that, but it doesn’t hurt to get the basics of writing in place.
Wonder how copywriters of today will react to such ads?