Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"And what did you do at the office today?"

         One thing I love about being a writer is that you can do the most important parts of your work almost anywhere. Anywhere you happen to have a pencil, paper, and peace of mind.

         I once wrote a 24-page brochure for a luxury resort while sprawled across a bed at the Plaza II Hotel in Toronto. It wasn't one of those "heavenly beds" so I was able to stay awake.

         My art director friend Ross and I worked on ads and commercials over the phone when I was at a hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he was at home in San Francisco. I once got an idea for a Hush Puppies shoes commercial while mindlessly watching the news on TV; I ran into the bedroom with a pad of yellow paper, stretched out across the floor, and wrote it. I seem to do my best work in a horizontal position.

         Over the years I've written advertising on trains, planes and (when I worked on Hatteras) on gorgeous white yachts. Come to think of it, I don't think I wrote that many ads at the office since those first few years when I thought I had to. Part of the reason is those endless meetings people call. The other part part was enjoying the day discussing advertising and life in general with my fellow creatives.

          Today, of course, copywriters aren't as mobile because they also have to know computer graphics almost as well as art directors do, and many are quite busy designing ads and ideas for the Web. Which all balances out because most art directors I know love trying to write copy.

          The hard part of writing isn't what you do on the computer, it's what goes on in your head. Creative directors and clients are looking for ideas --- concepts that change people's minds. You don't see too many mind-changers these days, and ad agencies in New York are crying for idea people. The idea drought was a major topic this year at Advertising Week.

         To come up with a good idea, you have to lift your eyes off the product and look at the bigger picture. The question isn't "how is my product better?"; it's "how can I help consumers make better choices?"

         You can't always come up with mind-changing ideas sitting at your computer. Sometimes you can see things better from an Italian coffee shop or a Canadian train window.

No comments:

Post a Comment