By Steve May, Copywriter and Director at Rockatansky.
“How do you expect us to let you do the fun stuff when you can’t get a simple brochure right?” Heard it on numerous icy occasions throughout my career.
Client code for ‘You’re only interested in YOU not US’.
Now, before I hear howls of ‘but the big, fun ideas are just as much for brands as they are for agencies and creatives’ – Yes, I agree. I’m an advocate for big thinking. Love it. Head-over-heels. Great clients love big thinking, too. But often, the perception of why we (creatives) think this way can be skewed in their eyes. Let’s delve.
Your days are spent in agony, stifled by idea-block (akin to constipation of the mind) attempting to pull a Grand Prix out of your arse.
Positioning yourself to make great ads, big ads, award-winning ads, is like investing. You contribute, you build, then when it’s time, you receive a dividend of creative opportunity.
You get out what you put in.
Not rocket science. Really, we’re talking Life 101, here.
But you’d be surprised how many in the advertising world attempt to withdraw from empty accounts.
As a junior, with a ferocious dose of white Lion fever, your eyes are permanently locked on the Cannes and D&ADs of the world. Your days are spent in agony, stifled by idea-block (akin to constipation of the mind) attempting to pull a Grand Prix out of your arse. Each flurry of mind dumping accelerates deforestation, as umpteen pads of paper are attacked by Sharpies and fatigued thinking.
So, when that pesky product brochure brief hits your desk, it’s typically considered an interruption. The retail radio commercial brief is a road block. While the strip-ad brief is toilet paper. If only this frivolous activity would disappear so that we could focus on the big stuff.
For these rude intrusions are also emphatically important to clients (plus, they’re also teaching you to write – quickly and succinctly).
Clients don’t tend to silo work as big or small, trivial or more-or-less important. It’s all…work. A flyer, a radio spot, a digital ad, a style guide – there is no inferior child. Sure, a TV spot has more cash thrown at it (not to mention better catering), but in the scheme of things, it holds no greater importance than the rest of the campaign coupled to it, nor should it. It’s why they call them ‘campaigns’.
Thus, every single word in the smallest of body copy should be crafted to within an inch of its kerning.
Believe me, nothing drives a client wilder than when you nail those tiny details.
Think of it as creative foreplay.
To a client, that superbly-placed comma on an A4 sales aid is a wispy kiss on the neck. Repeating the brand name twice within the opening paragraph: hand on the thigh. Summing-up by ending on a website AND including a phone number – now that’s sipping from a single glass of gin with two straws in a dimly-lit bar as Jack Johnson oozes from the speakers.
There. Warmed up. Mood is right. Home base, second base, now go for home.
See, you don’t just jump straight into big, juicy creative ideas without an earlobe nibble first (to clarify, I’m speaking in metaphors, here).
Pitching is a little different, as you’re going for Wham! Bam! Thank you brand!
Incumbent clients want to walk out of a presentation knowing they have one less thing to worry about (especially all the fiddly bits of copy in ads and EDMs and brochures and social posts). And happy clients are generous clients.
The devil may be in the detail, but so is the opportunity.
Big ads live in brochures.
So have the meetings, the lunches, the bonding sessions, but remember: the greatest client relationship builder is getting those little bits of copy absolutely perfect.