Monday, 26 September 2011

Betty II

It's been six months now since you left us, Nana. I miss you.

I know the spirits don't use the internet. That would be absurd. But I hope that if we do live on after we die, you'll somehow see this message.

I wanted to tell you I moved back to Edinburgh - your Edinburgh- and found a job. I love being back here and in work. I just wish it had all happened before you went away, so you'd know I was all right.

The other thing I wanted to say, Nana, is thank you again. I read your copy of The Whisperers, by John Connolly. I loved it and bought more of his books. He's one of my favourite authors now. 

In fact, I met him. He was signing his new book in Waterstone's, on Princes Street, and I bought a copy. I would never have been there if it wasn't for you.

With the copy I got a large sticker that said 'Tell them Charlie Parker sent you.' I will. And I'll do it with a smile.

But deep down, I'll know Elisabeth Mary 'Betty' Jones sent me.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Copywriting like the corners of your mind

Whether you're a writer or a reader, and whether it's a novel or a piece of copy, a piece of writing must get off to a good if not thunderous start. If it doesn't you can kiss your reader or potential customer goodbye.

So how do you do it? A book I read today advises starting from the middle instead of the beginning. Sound advice, says I! Deleting opening paragraphs tightens up copy. Sometimes it creates new angles to approach writing from. Power structures aren't only a political thing, you know!

But what if you could do it in life too? If you could start your life at any point, when would you choose?

For instance, would you go back to when you were five years old and starting school? Would you go back to teens with maybe memories of your first kiss?

Perhaps you'd just skip all that malarky and start in your adult years, maybe in your first job? Or even leapfrog all that and start when you're already doing well at work and have mouths to feed and bring up?

I think I'd start at the summer either side of my first year at uni. I couldn't fail to be happy back then. One because I was starting a new stage of my life, the other because I'd successfully completed the first year. I had a job that fed me and supported my studies. Good times.

Maybe even the best of times.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A Brand Too Far?

So they're thinking of renaming the Olympic Stadium the Ann Summers Stadium once 2012's Games are over. Not sure whether to laugh or cry!

Naming a sports stadium after a sex toy company. That's a first. Laughable to us but a marketing masterstroke for Ann Summers. Being a Newcastle United fan, I console myself that there'll now be a stadium with a ghastlier name than our former ' James' Park Stadium'!

As I've said in earlier entries, I'm interested in advertising. I once read Naomi Klein's No Logo, a scathing attack on globalisation and corporate culture. In it she wrote how even people are becoming branded by having company logos etc. tattooed on themselves in return for scholarships or whatever. Extreme, yes, but what people do with their own body is their business.

That said, 'Ann Summers Stadium' is a step too far even for me. Change is good, there's no disputing that. But do we follow the money so much now that we'll just throw all integrity or self-respect outta the window?

After the impressively monumental fiasco with the tickets for the 2012 Games, I can see them in the meeting room: 

Okay, we've made a hash of the tickets, yes, but it's not too late to put things right if we can just come up with a good name for the stadium. Now, I had a call from Ann Summers and they suggested calling it the "Ann Summers Stadium". We've already stuffed up the tickets thingy, so I say "What the hell!" and just go with it anyway and make a big pile of money. In all fairness, it does have a kinda ring to it. So can I get a show of hands on 'Ann Summers Stadium'?... Ann Summers it is. You may go about your business.

And Britain, your cringing time starts... Now! Or laughter if you support Newcastle! Muahahahahaha!

Friday, 16 September 2011

'I just felt like... writing'

Ever seen Forrest Gump?

If you haven't, there's an inspiring scene where Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) just gets up and starts running nonstop. Hair long and beard raggy, he runs nonstop from town to town to town. The people start to run with him just to see how his journey will end. 

Suddenly, he comes to a halt and just turns around to walk home. When asked what was the point of it all, he answers: 'I just felt like running.' Brilliant.

And that's how I'm feeling today. At odds with my own style and at a loss for a topic, after two weeks away from my blog and a few copywriting books later, I just felt like writing! 

Today I've freed my mind and recaptured my creative spark and spirit. Normal service will resume next week!

Let the good (writing) times roll once more.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Who's your copywriting mentor?

Like any doctor worth their salt reads the British Medical Journal, as an advertising enthusiast I read a lot about copywriting. 

Now I'm reading From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor, the inspiration behind Mad Men. Offensive title, I agree, but an interesting, gossipy insight into advertising's golden age. I've just read the chapter on 'killers' - that sounds self-explanatory, but is it what it seems? You'll have to read it yourself, just to check!

This is for entertainment, of course. But who's your copywriting author of choice? Like you'll find The Bible in many hotel rooms, all good advertisers have Ogilvy on Advertising on their bookshelf. May the Lord have mercy on your soul if not!

Is your mentor, perhaps, John Simmons? A titan in the writing for business world, with books like Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a BlackBerry and The Invisible Grail, Mr Simmons shows us the power of creativity in copywriting.

Maybe you're a fan of Andy Maslen's slick, no-nonsense guides to copywriting? I know I am! I've learned some crucial tips on how to crispen up copy from Write to Sell. Thanks for those!

You'd also be right to be a fan of Roger Horberry's down-to-earth but engaging style. In Brilliant Copywriting, he gives a fine insight into how he tackles the different stages of the copywriting process. He also interviews copywriting's big hitters, who let us in on in how they got started. 'Tis is a most useful book!

So who's your copywriting mentor? I've learnt great things from all of these copywriters. Does that make me a polytheist (believer in many gods!) where copywriting is concerned?