How To Produce Creative Advertising Concepts

‘COPYWRITING SHORTS’  #102 Coming up with powerful creative concepts that have the simple and direct capacity to PERSUADE is an elusive construct that sometimes never happens.  In those cases, you see ads that don’t really work. They don’t have the unmistakable magic that a great headline has when it blurs beautifully into a perfectly linked image.  For a copywriter to achieve this level of creativity requires innate visual thinking and an exceptional facility with words – never forgetting a seamless familiarity with the vernacular that differentiates natural-born English speakers who’ve taken on board all the cultural and mass media influences that shape our Westernised identities. The very best ads, of course, are typically produced by creative teams – copywriters working with art directors.  Even here, however, you can often recognise which creative skill is dominant – much in the same way you can recognise whether it was John Lennon or Paul McCartney who did the creative spade-work in their highly effective song-writing partnership. Copywriters, at the very least, should be able to enhance an art director’s ideas – and then produce flawlessly relevant copy that flows from the headline, regardless of who came up with the original concept.  At best, a copywriter’s facility with words should be able to extract every ounce of meaning from creative concepts as applied to almost any type of advertising.  That is pure talent. To find out more about Buzzwords’ approach to creating effective advertising concepts, visit:... Read more...

Is Everyone On Holiday – EXCEPT YOU?!

It’s that seasonal thing – a bit like Christmas, but a lot less predictable.  When your key suppliers jet off to the sun (and don’t bother telling you!), that can be mighty frustrating. August of course is the peak period, when travel companies and ice-cream men double their prices.  Because they can.  Take a closer look and you might spot your printer sunning himself on a Greek beach, or your web designer licking lollies with his wife and kids in Cornwall. Yes, holidays are A GOOD THING – unless you’re the one left behind in rainy Blighty, tearing your hair out trying to find a photographer, copywriter or some other supplier who isn’t already booked up in the sunshine way. Speaking as a copywriter, I’m in the fortunate position of being able to take my holidays off-peak.  May in Marrakesh or September in Side aren’t packed to the gunnels with the August crowd – and the prices are more agreeable too. It also means I’m available for projects when the rest of the world and his wife have thrown caution to the wind.  That’s not to say there aren’t frustrations… Chief among these are projects being shelved or put on the back burner.  Admittedly, that’s looking down the opposite end of the telescope from clients left in the lurch by suppliers who are  ‘en vacances’ but I suppose summer holidays are a cross we all have to bear in our different ways – until it’s our turn for the airport taxi to come knocking! If your copywriter has gone AWOL – or you’re looking for some fresh copywriting inspiration... Read more...

Seismic Shifts In Search: Google’s ‘Land-Grab’ For Online Revenues

Website copywriting is something I’ve been doing for over ten years.  During that time, changes have been many and far-reaching.  The techniques that drive and define online ‘success’ today are vastly different to what they were, even two or three years ago. Anyone who follows this industry will know that Google has been exercising its SEO muscle.  They’ve been hard at work driving out the ‘black hat’ SEO merchants who’ve used every trick in the book to help their clients achieve top search engine rankings for the most lucrative keywords in their industry. To be fair to Google, I’d say their actions are long overdue.  On the other hand, a major flaw in the search engine’s modus operandi has always been that the companies which achieve top rankings on search page listings (SERPs) are not necessarily the best at what they do.  They are top of the pile because their SEO is better than the next man’s. An attempt to change that came with Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates to the many criteria that go into creating what they call their ‘algorithms’.  Unfortunately, in driving out the ‘black hat’ SEO people, Google has also made it difficult for those who play by the rules to implement workable techniques. Rich Promise One by one, Google has all but trashed the techniques which have hitherto delivered on their promise of higher rankings.  Examples include keyword placement in meta tags and on-page copy; link building; online PR – and many others. Aspects of these criteria are still valid of course.  Keywords will always have a degree of significance (or how else... Read more...
The UK Is Still A Bloated Credit Junkie

The UK Is Still A Bloated Credit Junkie

I’m fascinated by debt – or ‘credit’ as it’s known in polite circles. The UK has an eye-watering National Debt of almost £1.5 TRILLION (and rising). To mere mortals, ‘debt’ is a four-letter word – something to be eschewed on pain of the workhouse or some equally grizzly fate. There’s a whole industry in the UK that focuses on debt collection – lawyers, bailiffs and professional debt collectors who go by a number of rather fanciful ‘noms de guerre’. At odds with this is the reality that, in business (and in the governmental fiscal arena), it’s debt that makes the world go round. Providing you have the means to service your dirty little secret – or assets you can use as ‘security’ – no-one will bat an eye-lid. After all, financing corporate and personal debt is a nice little earner for those in the money business. Just look at the financial ‘products’ they have at their disposal – leasing, asset and invoice finance, second mortgages… the list is endless. When the most recent credit bubble burst in 2007-8, everyone blamed everyone else and the global financial village for the crisis. The reality is, however, we’re all hooked on credit (or debt). So is it only a matter of time before new crises raise their heads? Playing Politics In the UK, consumer debt is currently being fueled by cheap mortgages – courtesy of government vote-winning schemes and supported by low interest rates, courtesy of the Bank of England. Employment is being bought by government investment in white elephant capital projects such as the HS2 rail folly. And business continues to... Read more...

A Brief History of the Co-Op – Good With Food, Not-So-Good With Money

It’s been 20 years since I worked for the Co-Op.  Or, to be more precise, the Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS).  It was gratifying over those years to see the metamorphosis of the business from being a rather quaint, historic organisation that championed ‘caring, sharing’ co-operative values into a dynamic multi-faceted force on the High Street.   It grieves me now to see how far the Group has fallen in the past few years as what can only be described as a ‘casualty of recession’.  The catalyst for this must surely have been its venture into so-called ‘casino banking’ activities.  Until recently, the Co-Operative Bank was a beacon of ‘ethical’ values – and, my goodness, didn’t the banking industry need those! The Co-Operative’s retailing arm appeared to be doing well in the competitive supermarket snake-pit.  Its slogan, ‘Good With Food’, seemed to be glowingly appropriate.  This was all undone by the apparent lack of management control at the heart of its corporate governance, as evidenced by the media exposure of its former Chairman, the Reverend Paul Flowers.     Winning Days…  My involvement with the Co-Op was as a freelance copywriter who worked on various projects in the 1990s.  Memorable among these was a commission to write the CWS entry for a prestigious national food industry challenge where all the big High Street supermarket names were in the frame.  To my pleasant surprise – at a black-tie dinner at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel and hosted by TV personality Sue Lawley – the Co-Op’s entry won second place. Preparing their written submission involved me being shown round the various parts of the Group’s... Read more...