Thursday, 24 September 2009

Copywriters: a waste of ink and air.

Let me, Dave Knockles, reveal the biggest myth in marketing and advertising. Are you ready? Then I'll begin.

It's fucking 'copywriters'! They're useless. Totally, utterly and completely useless.

The agency boys (and especially their pet writer, who's called Felix or Conrad or something, and mopes about wearing specs and T-shirts with things like 'I'm anti-you' on them) claim that there's nothing better than a copywriter for making ads intelligent, or witty, or...I dunno...deep or whatever.

Here's what I've learned: all they do is write words. AND I CAN DO THAT MYSELF! Look! I'm doing it now!

I'll give you an example. Here's the copy from one of the Cleanavia 3000's launch ads:

We designed the Cleanavia to be more than a washing machine. We designed it to be a member of the family. One that can't help joining in and helping out. One that will work as hard as you do to keep everyone looking great. But unlike the other members of your family, this one has a 1,500 RPM spin cycle, a unique silks program and a cycle for dry clean only clothes. It's a shame you can't marry one.

And here's what Dave Knockles had them change it to:

Cleanavia 3000 is a revolution in consumer durables relating to, or directly involving, cleaning clothes and or soft furnishings. It has literally revolutionised your home cleaning experience. With functions such as a 1,500 RPM spin cycle for superior spin quality, a program that will prevent tanglement of silk or silk-like clothing products, and a cycle to wash dry clean-only items right there in your own home not a dry cleaners, it really is the market's leading home cleaning offering. Your consumer delight is guaranteed - that's the Cleanavia 3000 promise. Why not visit your local electrical retailer, supermarket offering an on-site line of electrical consumer durables, online electrical retailer or online electrical brokerage portal to make the Cleanavia 3000 a part of your consumer cleaning ritual?

See? I rest my fucking case. Marry a fucking washing machine? Up your semi-colon!

Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!


  1. Fucking skippy, my man. And they have the nerve to charge us in excess of a thousand pounds a day for the use of these bastards. If it were up to me, I'd shove their £300 spectacles up their flabby white behinds, then run them over in my M5.


  2. Yeah, that's like saying because I can drive I should be competing in Formula 1.

    I read the first batch of copy, but wasn't inspired by it. The second "better" example. I didn't even try and finish.

    Just because one copywriter is lazy at getting the message refined, doesn't mean they all are.

  3. I beg to differ. Not all writers are waste of space. Dave Abbot, Julian Koening and the infamous Neil French have made copywriters a necessity in simplifying the one single message that needs to be communicated to the massess regarding a specific product. Now if clients are so darn good at writing copy, they should be getting double their salary no? But then again, it's a dirty job, and I'm sure clients hate to get their pretty manicured little fingers dirty.

  4. Sheikh Azraai,

    That pretty much sums up what copywriters are in essence. The names you have mentioned certainly have a profound impact in the industry. However, a copywriter is simply a bridge between the creative process and routine. Depending on the structure of the agency, copywriters are there to fill the void of word wrangling. Nothing more, nothing less. Given the current economy and market trend.. agencies are downsizing and are focusing on a nucleus creative team (mainly generalists) that possess complete skillsets , essential in handling tasks from PRE-PRODUCTION to POST. Therefore, I foresee a future devoid of copywriters. Why do you need a copywriter when you have a team of designers who able able to complete the job from start to finish?

    Trust me, I've been in countless situations similar to Dave. These copywriters should instead listen, learn and push they're ego out the door. Nothing is easy and no job is clean. Someone just needs to put them in place, learn to touch the ground once in awhile.. before you're out of a job.

  5. Noted on that anonymouse.

    But in case you haven't notice there are a new breed of writers that can multitask. Take for example Juan Cabral from Fallon. He is able to write, art direct, and direct films. And yes, doing pre-pro and post is part of the job. Not to mention Jonathan Kneebone, Dave Droga and more.

    Designers are grunts. Without a question you need them. But ideas are not part of their skill set.

    I think you might be referring to the old school copywriters, where their skills are limited to one thing. However, today, like I said, writers are not only meant to write. They are able to do many things. They are not only word wranglers. In this business, one will perish if one does not expand their skill.

    On that note, in this line of business, ego is already a given. It can range from the suits, traffic, creatives, finance people - all of them have egos that's the size of a planet.

    It goes without saying if you are a conventional adman (writer,art,suit,designer,etc.etc) in the ad industry, you are in for a tough time because this is an industry that produces the unconventional.