The rest is noise | DMA

The rest is noise


Copywriters battle to stay creative, weaving stories into their work and bringing life to beige pages. But as Ogilvy says, words matter most when they sell, so how to find a balance between the elegiac and the effective?

Ulrike Meinhof was the intellectual spirit and the activist soul of the Red Army Faction (RAF). Founded in Germany during the 1960s, the RAF and Meinhof were, for a time, just another face in an angry crowd. Not for long. Meinhof wrote of what made her group different, saying: "Everybody talks about the weather. We don't".

Action. Not just words.

What’s this got to do with copy and copywriting? Well on my daily wombles through the web, I've recently seen several shares of the classic David Ogilvy video "We sell, or else".

Which is interesting. Because this video is a call to arms for marketing people to put up or shut up. It is a reminder that copywriters must develop an innate understanding of balance. Write what is right, not just write, right? Drive action.

Like Meinhof, Ogilvy wasn’t one to stand around and admire the view.

Sure, be creative. Just not on my time.

Why is it that creativity shoved into the shadows is such a tough pill to swallow for some copywriters? Well for many the path to creative expression is fraught. We daily cross a desert of discarded ideas, copy samples and memorable lines dotting the landscape like a million Amelia Earharts.

But here’s the thing. The battle to find the right words need not curtail creativity. Indeed, meeting the Ogilvy mantra of selling or else should have writers licking their lips.

Check out these Just Eat billboards and see how a few words count for so much. They capture vital elements of the human experience: humour and hunger, dance and music. Short, sharp and shareable: these are stories that write themselves in the reader’s mind and crucially for the digital age, win the battle for attention offline and online.

Finding an even keel

Copywriters will always have to balance storytelling instincts with a commitment to effective writing. But as the Just Eat example proves today – and as VW’s genius showed us years ago – the path to writing that works involves creative pit stops on the way up to the summit.

There are ways to meet Ogilvy’s gauntlet and not feel like your creative soul has been crushed. All you need is that perfect client. Stay strong.

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