The curse of the copywriter. Toiling away in his or her office thinking of a great headline for an ad. Hey, I do it myself. But there’s a problem with that. As copywriters, we think of ourselves as writers. Big mistake. We’re not writers. We’re Creatives! We create. It’s in our nature.
We’re not editors. Leave that to the other kinds of writers. Sure we edit our work, but as an advertising copywriter, you have the creative license to think beyond the written word. That means you need to think visually. In fact, you need to think visually first.
When I work with interns or junior/entry level writers, I try to instill in them to think visually. The world isn’t made up of words. It’s made up of pictures. (Those pictures are usually moving but that’s another story). I tell them to try and solve the problem visually first, then figure out the words.
The better the visual solution, the fewer words needed. And, if you come up with a great visual solution, then maybe, just maybe, you don’t need any words at all. What? That’s heresy coming from a copywriter, but check out this ad for the Hard Rock Café. Could any words have made this ad any better? Would adding the headline, “We’re ready to rock!” improve this? I say “No!” with a resounding bass kick.
I don’t know if an art director came up with this idea or a copywriter. But a copywriter certainly could have. And if so, that saved the art director a lot of time trying to lay out all those pesky words that just get in the way.
Great copywriters think visually and great art directors have headline capability. It’s what makes teamwork so great and one of the things I love about our agency. One of my favorite headline/positioning lines I’ve ever been a part of came from my art director teammate. I wasn’t jealous. I wasn’t embarrassed. I was ecstatic! And when I bring him visual ideas with little copy, he hugs me.
So copywriters, remember, your title is just a term so that you have a spot on the chart of a new business pitch. You are not merely a copywriter. You are a Creative! Start acting like one.