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Christmas adverts 2019

Christmas adverts 2019

PLANNER:

HOW CAN WE MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY THIS YEAR WITH A LIGHTWEIGHT MESSAGE THAT WILL RAISE A SMILE. BECAUSE, WE ARE LIVING IN A TIME OF CHANGE FOR THE PLANET. CHRISTMAS DOESN’T REALLY FIT IN WITH THAT, DOES IT?

CREATIVE DIRECTOR:

CHRISTMAS ISN’T SUSTAINABLE. BUT WE’VE GOT FAMILIES TO BRING CHEER TO. ESPECIALLY AFTER THIS DISASTEROUS BREXSHIT MALLARKY.  

WE CAN EITHER FOCUS ON PRODUCT OR WE CAN TALK ABOUT SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT. LIKE MAKING PEOPLE SMILE. IF YOU CAN BUILD ON/RECYCLE LAST YEAR’S IDEAS, EVEN BETTER. BOOTS. OR IF YOU CAN’T, RECYCLE LAST YEAR’S IDEAS AND ADD A CATCHY SONG. THAT’LL DO IT. ALDI.

TAP INTO TRENDS. PEOPLE LOVE THE 90s RIGHT NOW, MAKE IT ‘FRIENDS’, THE MORE CENTRAL PERK THE BETTER. MARKS AND SPENCER. NOSTALGIA IS THE THING. BRING PEOPLE’S CHILDHOODS TO LIFE. HELP THEM TO SMELL CHRISTMAS IN THE 80s/90s/00s OR WHATEVER. BRING NAN’S PERFUME TO LIFE, YOU KNOW? ARGOS.

THE OTHER THING IS, MAKE IT CUTE. IF YOU MAKE SOMETHING CUTE, GEN Z WILL RESPOND. YOU JUST HAVE TO LOOK AT INSTAGRAM TO KNOW THAT. JOHN LEWIS.

BUT IF YOU TRY TO SELL TOO MANY PRODUCTS, THAT’S NOT VERY ECO-FRIENDLY. BUT SOME PRODUCTS ARE GOOD. PICK YOUR PRODUCT. A CHRISTMAS PUDDING WON’T OFFEND ANYONE. WILL IT? BUT IF YOU ASK SOMEONE TO RESTYLE THEIR WHOLE HOUSE, YOU MIGHT OFFEND SOMEONE. MIND YOU, IT REALLY IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO OFFEND ANYONE SO MAKE IT CUTE. ADD A SONG, MAKE IT GOOD. IKEA. HELL, THROW IN SOME REINDEER AND YOU’VE LITERALLY GOT A CAMPAIGN. MCDONALDS.

PLANNER:

WHAT ABOUT THE BRAND?

CREATIVE DIRECTOR:

WELL, BRANDS AREN’T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS. I SUPPOSE YOU COULD TALK ABOUT BRITISHNESS AND THE BRAND. I MEAN, WHAT HOOK HAVE YOU GOT TO GO ON? NOT MANY ANGLES LEFT AT THIS TIME OF YEAR. IT’S NOT LIKE WE WANT TO PLAY CHRISTMAS BINGO, IS IT? UK HERITAGE IS GOOD, BEATS THE AMAZON NOT PAYING TAX THING. SAINSBURY’S. YOU’RE A 100 YEARS OLD THIS YEAR? TELL PEOPLE. BUT MAKE IT ENGAGING. I MEAN, IT’S NOT REALLY COOL BEING OLD. TESCO. MAGIC. THAT’S WHAT WE NEED. A DUSTING OF CHRISTMAS MAGIC. SPARKLE. ASDA. BUT MAKE IT GOOD.

IN FACT, IF YOU DO HAVE A MESSAGE, YOU COULD ALWAYS THROW THAT IN AND MAKE AN AD ABOUT IT. VISA.

PLANNER:

BUT WHAT ABOUT CHRISTMAS?

Freelance Copywriter for Hire

I like to think that if you really want something badly enough, you have to go after it and make it happen.

As such, I read a lot of profiles about senior female copywriting peers of mine who haven’t necessarily had children, but who have had a dream and have pursued it and lived to tell the brilliant tale. I’m not sure anyone is going to be writing about me any time soon, so I’ve written a piece about myself, for myself instead…!

Always a copywriter

When I was little, I just wrote and wrote. I had many penpals and I loved to send my classmates letters in the long summer holidays. Some of these lovely ladies have kept some of the letters and have since shown me them.

My favourite subject at school was English and I was so bored in those holidays, I would entirely lose myself in books. I’d read nearly all the Agatha Christie books by the time I was 12.

My first ‘official’ job post graduating was in financial PR. In the interview, I said I wanted to write press releases. I hadn’t heard about copywriting at that time. The role was off Liverpool Street, in Artillery Lane, often frequented by Jack the Ripper tours. One of his victims was found out the back of the office and in the winter months, you’d hear voices creep up to the window with talk of foul deeds and bloodcurdling chill.

It was there that I saw the events of 9/11 unfold, around the corner from the Stock Exchange, which was immediately shutdown. It was a truly terrible day, particularly for our clients in the Merrill Lynch office. It was also pivotal in my copywriting journey as it was also where I realised somebody had to write all those Abbey National Offshore brochures…

After knocking PR on the head, I moved to Dublin for a time. It brought me closer to my Irish roots and gave me an appreciation for what I really wanted to do. I worked in a marketing department in an Irish bank and when I returned to the UK, I had several more varied and interesting roles.

I also had a side-hustle during this time, training as a CELTA and ESOL teacher, as well as completing an adult literacy course in London. I’ve always been a grammar nerd, and it was wonderful to teach adults to learn to read and write.

The middle years

I am a firm believer that the more life experience you have, the better. It sparks creativity, and also means you learn skills to cope well with moving into new environments. As such, I made sure I gained experience at small independent agencies and also mid-to-large companies. It was a great time working in central London and I learned so much.

As a mid-weight copywriter at a WPP agency, I directed Zoe Wanamaker in a TFL London radio advert. It gave me so much pleasure to ask her to repeat a line. I felt like I’d arrived! What an upstart…  

My peer, celebrated copywriter Vikki Ross has worked in two creative professional marketing agencies in London. I was the long-term freelance copywriter at one of them until I decided to move on. It was at the one that played Chaz and Dave on a Friday evening. 

“Have some fun with it”

The best agencies have been the ones where we had fun on the job. Nobody is saving lives writing copy, but equally, as a professional copywriter, it’s nice to be appreciated.

You’ve spent your life writing copy, so you’d like to think you know a thing or two about it. While it’s good to get feedback, there’s nothing more soul destroying in a client rewriting the copy, just because they can – especially when your original lines were, in your opinion, epic.

It begins and ends with subjectivity

If you have an agency rule that some feedback is objective and some is subjective and stick to the rule that you will happily accept a certain amount of subjectivity, that’s fine. But if every other comment is subjective, someone needs to be pushing back to the client about that. Because, somebody somewhere down the line will articulate this. And you don’t want fingers being pointed at you, the original copywriter on the brief.

Jerry Della Fermina of Madman, Madison Avenue fame, once said that advertising is the best fun you can have with your clothes on. I can’t claim to know all about advertising, but copywriting comes pretty close for me.

Getting under the skin of new briefs is just a wonderful feeling; researching a business or an industry and coming up with creative treatments to answer a client’s dilemma or problem – it’s the best.

The people you meet

As a freelance copywriter, I get to work with and meet all sorts of wonderful people, every single week. Some of the best of these people have been Creative Directors and Art Directors I’ve met along the way.

Today, many of my peer interactions happen on the internet. I can’t praise Twitter highly enough for bringing rays of light to my door when working at home alone on projects.

Sometimes jobs have come from these interactions and I’ve met some of these online creatives in real life and that’s always fun. Like imagining a character in a book and seeing them come to life on screen, wearing a real pair of shoes and pulling faces at you.

Amazingly, many people still don’t ‘get’ Twitter. For the creative mind, it’s like having a living, breathing treasure chest of ideas at your fingertips. You just need to know how to work the filter. Block the noise you don’t want to hear.

Back to the copywriting

In one of the creative marketing agencies I worked in, voices crept in at the window once more. No, real voices again. Instead of Ripper tours, graffiti tours were being held down in the street. Marketing agencies have crept into Shoreditch now, leaving the expensive office space of Soho well and truly behind. It was here that I worked with an incredible strategy director and I learned a lot about market trends, start-ups and brand platforms.  

At the WPP agency where I left to go on my first maternity leave, I applied to come back as a content writer – a floater who could work at home when needed and with every creative team when cover was required. This idea was rejected. But ten years later, most agencies have a content writer like this. It became a ‘thing’.

My freelance rebirth was a positive moment – I went on to work with Table19 for many years while my children were small and this was a good time for me. I don’t know if anyone has ever written about Creative Director Damian Kirby, but I will always remember the laughs we had during this time.

I am currently working directly with agencies and clients alike and continue to build on the experience I have. This works well as I balance my home commitments with my career.

Available for freelance

I’m excited about the next chapter in my copywriting career. Am seeking freelance copywriting briefs, large and small. You can throw in some proofreading or strategy as well if you like. Yes, I’m a senior copywriter with creative director tendencies, but that makes me easier to work with in many ways as I cut straight to the task at hand and am old enough and ugly enough to take criticism well and collaborate effectively for the good of the work.

Get in touch if you need a freelance copywriter for your next marketing project. And who knows, we may even have some fun with it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Need a specialist copywriter?

I’ve been told it helps if you can market yourself based on your specialism. That’s true enough. But if you’re a creative copywriter, you probably thrive on change. You love to whittle out facts about all sorts of brands and write headlines with awesome angles.

If you solely write for one aspect of business, good for you. But what if you get stale? Churning out the same old ideas with little focus on what’s new and exciting?

Personally, my mind loves a challenge. I find curiosity and interest in all sorts of industries and organisations. If I had to be pinned down to one, maybe it would be charity. Maybe. Because, that makes everyone feel good, right?  

Copywriting for financial services

Thing is, I also love big business, like financial services. Just look at what HSBC is doing just now. Big, beautiful, thought-provoking copy-led creative. Fabulous, engaging copywriting that gets people talking.

Lloyds Bank and AXA have positioned themselves as financial institutions supporting good mental health. You’d never have thought that possible ten years ago.

Image result for lloyds mental health

Copywriting for entertainment

Some of my other favourite briefs have been, unsurprisingly, in the entertainment world. NOWTV is such a fun brand to work on, particularly when you’re being paid to watch movies and interpret what they’re about in a matter of three sentences for an email campaign.

Image result for nowtv email

It’s fun and engaging copywriting that shows why the written word is still super important in bringing about cut-through, leading to marketing ideas with impact.

I am just as happy writing incisive press releases for TV and film companies. And as for writing film scripts, that’s another specialism that not everybody gets right. But it is so rewarding writing engaging copy that needs to be well timed and spoken out loud.

Copywriting for B2B clients

Some of the other stuff, some of the involved B2B work has been so rewarding too. I get a great kick out of interpreting a company’s services and finding their point of difference in order to share it with the world at large in a creative and compelling way. Just because you’re in business, it doesn’t mean you can’t be clever with language or find ways to inject human warmth into the dialogue.  

Back to charity. The interesting element with charity briefs is the call to action and the impactful nature of this. Direct response campaigns can be some of the most challenging briefs to work on. They’re measured with such precision so every word counts. And often, there are strict guidelines on what can and can’t be said.

I have had the privilege to work on campaigns for MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine), and the Royal Marsden, where I was able to have tours of their world-leading hospitals. When you get up close to a business, you really begin to see where the conversation starters lie. And that’s true of big business and charities alike.

Keeping up with trends

I hope you begin to see where an all-round copywriter who can come up with engaging copywriting but also, with an eye for strategy and business concerns, is more important that hiring a copywriting specialist. So I would argue, it’s best to take ‘specialist’ and leave it firmly in the medical world.

Also, it’s worth checking to see if your copywriter is ‘current’. If you’re seeing reams of brochures in a portfolio, and you need a brochure writer, that’s great. But if you also see social media and film scripts, you’ll know you’re getting a quick thinker who gets new ideas quickly and readily. And somebody who isn’t set in their ways or their thinking.

Give me a call if you’d like help with your marketing challenge. I’d be more than happy to talk it through. As anyone who knows me will agree, I like a chat.

(Apologies for blatant SEO headlines. Am seeking new opportunities from January 2020, so you can’t blame a girl for trying).

What is brand proposition?

Do you know the difference between brand essence and brand values? Do you know how to write a brand ladder? Or how about brand pillars? What’s the difference between a brand ladder and a brand triangle? And why does any of this matter?

I’ve recently been developing strategy and copy for an exciting alcohol brand. As part of this, I have put together all of the above. It can be confusing for anyone coming to a branding job afresh. But each of these areas of the branding journey can be vital for future copywriters (and designers) tasked with creating great copywriting and imagery.

Get it right, and you can make the whole process so much better for everyone concerned. Get it wrong, and communications will fail to be consistent, lacking cut through and impact, even defaulting on ROI. It is a big responsibility for a copywriter and another reason to hire someone with experience.

Here’s a crash course in deciphering the branding marketing jargon:

Your brand essence is what your brand stands for. It is the core of your offering.

Your brand proposition identifies the benefits of your brand for the consumer and turns it into a statement.

Your brand purpose is the reason your brand exists beyond making money alone.

Your brand personality is its human traits, how it makes the consumer feel and how it sounds will play into this. It is how consumers relate to the brand.

Your brand values are your guiding principles and everything you communicate will play into one or all of these.

Still unsure? It’s time to hire a freelance copywriter/strategist. Just saying.

Japanese words with no translation

I’ve been quiet for a while because, in short, I’ve been working very, very hard. I mean, not to say that I don’t always work hard, but I’ve been working as a Senior Copywriter in a busy design agency in Clerkenwell, London – and as you’d expect, as a working mother with full membership to the sandwich generation club, it hasn’t left me much spare time.

But I’m here now.

So what have I learned on my copywriting travels? Well, I’ve been working on a Japanese beer brand. It’s a culture I thought I knew a fair bit about. Turns out, I was wrong! But one of the main observations is that there are lots of words in Japanese that have no direct translation in English.

Most copywriters are curious souls – or the good ones are, anyway. So on further investigation, I discovered there are several interesting words across many different languages that have no translation into the English language. Here are some of my favourites:

  1. Fargin (Yiddish) – this means to be genuinely happy for someone when they achieve something for themselves. It is the total opposite of begrudge, which is a word that does exist in our language. Anyone would say we aren’t a positive nation…
  2. Shouganai (Japanese) – this word means something that cannot be helped, so therefore it isn’t worth worrying about. It’s connected to fate, and as a natural born worrier, it feels like we’ve only just learned this concept in England recently, thanks to mindfulness.
  3. Tsundoku (Japanese) – for all the book worms out there, this is a word we really need in English. It’s when you buy a new book but don’t get round to reading it and leave it to pile up with all the other unread books you have, as they sit unloved on a bookshelf. I try not to be this person, but there are always too many books and too little time, right?
  4. Schadenfreude (German) – I’m surprised to note that the English language doesn’t cover this one, but it’s the feeling of enjoyment you get when you hear about other people’s troubles. Clearly this is one for the other juggling parents out there who are often faced with playground smugness, and does not reveal a mean character. GOT THAT?!!
  5. Komorebi (Japanese) – this a word that describes the sunlight that filters through the leaves of a tree. It’s when the light catches and sort of dances around you. Something I can appreciate being a big countryside lover. No wonder the Japanese race are perceived as being so clever when they have such lovely words in their lexicon.

There are lots more foreign words with no direct translation in the English language. It’s quite fascinating, whether you’re a copywriter or not. Right, back to the marketing copywriter stuff – and namely, flogging Japanese beer. TTFN.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas tinkles

Oh sweet Christmas time.

We’ve had a festive feast of ads all featured around John Lewis. What fresh madness is this?! I’m pretty sure the copywriting fun hasn’t stopped there either. Who’d have thought, the baby Jesus is well and truly out of the crib and has been replaced with a piano.

But what an end line! I waited with bated breath, going, “So what? so what? hit me with your killer reason for visiting JL, JL.” And they did! Like Arthur Fowler in an Eastenders Christmas special, they hit me full in the face with a frying pan (or piano, in this case).

“Some gifts are more than just a gift”

Mais bien sur! Oh how we congratulated ourselves. Who’d have thought they’d pull that one out of the bag? Bravo, Adam & Eve DDB. Bravo. On brief, on brand and maybe on budget. And like their clever copywriter and art director, Twitter have also had some fun with it.

Waitrose, however. We like the humour. But you’re not Aldi or Lidl. You’re the premium one. Stollen is well placed, so maybe that begins to work. But their advert does feel slightly off brand – is the tone of voice right? We’re not sure. It’s certainly a departure from the ordinary, we’ll give you that. But it does feel a bit too Elton this year, know what I mean? ‘Stelton’ with a little whiff of 1970.

Naturally, I only ever talk about these two brands, because I have ideas above my station. Like being posh. Marks and Spencer left me a little cold with their Holly Willoughby rummaging around with a plug socket. That’s my recall of it anyway.

Sainsbury’s, well we can mention their nativity because it’s just like the last John Lewis ad. But the good news is, they’ve ditched the orange and black for real life. I can’t be doing with that. Bah copywriter.

Meanwhile, Kevin the carrot was back for Aldi. Now I didn’t like the ‘pee’ language last year, being the Mary Whitehouse mother that I am. But this year is working better. Right in the nuts gag and, get this, Santa with his sleigh! Now you’re talking. We won’t say anything about the evil parsnip’s dodgy French accent. Is this a nod to Brexit? Well baby, it works for me.

Because let’s face it, brands are having a hard time moving away from the whole B word. Let’s hope we get greater creative spirit for Christmas this year. This year seems to have seen the standard of creative work go down. Not sure anyone knows how to write a radio ad anymore, that’s for sure.

Marketing Week names the Heathrow Bear ad as the top ad for Christmas. Not sure why Heathrow has to advertise, surely it’s just one of those places that attracts footfall. But who cares, not this copywriter and certainly not gen pop. It’s been voted the best Christmas advert this year. The proposition is one that’s really clear from where I’m sitting – oh to be the copywriter working on that brief. Lovely jubbly.

The good news is, this year’s sackful of creative adverts seem less divisive that the other stuff that’s whirling around this winter. So here’s to a peaceful Christmas and let’s hope a very happy new year.

Don’t stand so close to the brief

John Lewis have done one thing right when it comes to advertising. They’ve certainly got us talking.

Like a panicky pitch meeting, everyone has an opinion on their campaigns. They’re analysed, dissected, often sympathised with – who would want to be the copywriter handed that brief – you would? Yes, I know, we all would. But, I am certain that on the day an advertising creative gets handed the John Lewis Christmas Ad brief, somewhere a dove cries. Or a fox or a penguin. Or whatever.

Always be asking, ‘so what?’

Yet this new re-brand is a classic case of the client, the planners and possibly the creative team, being too close to the brief.

The point is, I don’t feel the whole brand awareness about their partnership actually matters to the consumer. And it all feels like old news.

What the consumer now wants is the signal that John Lewis aren’t a dying brand, and that our die-hard staples of old have something new and vibrant to bring to the table. Because let’s face it, to release this in a week that has seen redundancies along with the CEO of John Lewis talking about generational retail landscape change of the like that has never been known before, well. I’m willing to bet that the whole, ‘we’re awesome’ message just rings empty for most consumers.

What I really want to know is, how are you going to solve the problem of non-shopping? Now that is a proposition. Tell me how you can cure the ailing high street of its woes, and leave Brexit out of it. Britishness is being pedalled out by brands across the land right now.

The lazy post-Brexit vote brief

Just yesterday Vauxhall’s radio ad explained what ‘fomo’ was to me and how they are a British car maker. Good news for the ageing Brexit listener. Not so interesting for the rest of us who are likely to really cringe at it. I’d also wager this is the totally wrong demographic for Vauxhall. They need to think younger. But that aside, it’s a huge job to make people pay out for a high impact spend just because it is British.

Never underestimate your customer

Same goes for JL and Waitrose. I am target market, judging by their latest Bohemian Rhapsody advert. But as their new Waitrose direct mail suggests, I am not going to be making Baked Sea Bas with a Black Garlic Parcel this weekend.

No, I will be dipping into Sainsbury’s magazine telling me how to save money on meals whilst giving me what is one of the best educational children’s editorial I have seen  – the new Lego sticker album. Now that is a brand partnership with legs, albeit plastic ones.

Actually, the Sainsbury’s store I visited was awful inside and needed a total revamp. John Lewis and Waitrose may well have cleaner looking floors, but more is needed to boost customer loyalty.

Retail brands should start with the in-store experience to drive footfall – as indeed their Oxford Street revamp aims to do – rather than spend millions on shiny ads and rebrands that are simply unbelievable for the average consumer. John Lewis would do well to put the product back into its advertising and show the quality and price points to attract our attention.

There you go partners, you can have that one for free.

Ask, are you too close to the work?

I guess it helps that I’m coming at this with fresh eyes, but any copywriter worth their salt will have probably interrogated the brief and made this suggestion already. Sometimes, clients need to listen and know when to trust the professionals.

Unfortunately, for John Lewis, like the baked sea bass, this one reeks of blinkered thinking.

Let’s hope Christmas has something more to offer…

 

 

The business of outrage

People are so busy being outraged, it’s as tiresome as an all-nighter on a box set binge.

If there was ever one thing the advertising industry is certain to display, it’s a dog-eat-dog approach to life. Advertising has never been kind.

When I worked as a copywriter in large companies such as one in the WPP building, I felt this more keenly. People could hide behind their screens and avoid eye contact to indicate they were on deadline, but really, they were reading something vaguely interesting to them instead.

Real-life interactions were fairly London-standard: talk if you have to, but only as a last resort.

Now we have social media to express ourselves, the interesting articles take a back seat and we absorb information that someone else has seen fit to write. Yet increasingly, that something was written not by a professional writer, but by a person like anyone else.

Social media: the end of professional journalism

Journalism is a dying art. Chasing it as a career option is like wanting to be an ostler at an inn at the turn of the twentieth century. Sadly, if you’re seeking good career prospects, there is little to zero point. One can only hope this isn’t the same for copywriters!

Yet it’s this ‘noise’ that is sucking us in and driving our creative processes.

But is that right? What value do these words have? If anyone can write something inflammatory and drive news headlines into a storm in a teacup territory within seconds, what chance do the rest of us have? Anyone, it seems, can be a writer. Question is, should we be giving any of the writing our attention?

Is it best to simply leave the social media playground to the kids with less focus and return to the pages of actual printed books and other intellectual stimulus? Practice free thinking and absorb the mind in other matters? Observe, give where you can, but don’t get dragged into the undertow?

See it for what it is, like the big ad agencies with their swipe cards and free canteens – something fleeting and precious to behold, but also full of smoke and mirrors; real life happening beyond its doors.

Creative work without Creative Direction

We’re told that to be shocking and provocative is good – but ideas need creative direction. And these ones are often limited by a lack of life experience and agency (business) wisdom.

Recently, a bunch of creatives took this approach and their work was viewed as sexist and misogynistic. Clearly, that was where a Creative Director would have said, “Er, guys, what’s that about?”

But.

One person’s outrage, another’s chip shop statue?

I do wonder if work like this ever gets through to the Chip Awards? There is a category ‘In Bad Taste’ and I once saw a Creative Director submit an ad about bombs on the underground. Having lived through that fateful day, I was personally a little taken aback about this, but he said it was alright. He submitted it and it made it through to the finals.

Back to outrage.  Like a client do that ends up in the Bada Bing strip club, advertising hasn’t exactly got a great rep.

Twitter doesn’t have a Creative Director. Yet it goes to show that experience counts for a lot in this fast-moving world of outrage.

Get it wrong and you serve up all sorts of pain in nano seconds. It’s why sales of business insurance amongst copywriters and creatives are in demand by recruiters.

Everyone is liable, yet no one wants to be liable. They want to play and eat their cake at the same time. Real life rarely works this way unfortunately.

Mix this with advertising and what have you got? A dog-eat-dog world where the dogs have been replaced by zooped up ninja sharks on steroids.

Play along at your peril – but whatever you do, play nicely.

The future of business is talent

I’ve been writing a lot of employment related copy recently.

It is particularly perfect for me because I am at a crossroads that many of us come to in our lives – a big birthday where people tell you life begins. Funny people also tell you that your life is half over – but where would we be creatively if the world wasn’t a little glass half empty at times?

So here it is, I find myself well placed to understand issues of career breaks, parental leave, ageism, career changes and employee engagement, for starters. And as a freelancer, I’ve met a lot of employers.

Plus, as a brand marketer, I understand businesses and the demands on their time as well as the conundrums they face in the marketplace.

How can you stay agile? Where are the next opportunities? What does the future hold?

One thing’s for sure, like any industry, marketing is changing at a rate of knots. Take content marketing, for example. Content agencies have been popping up across the board. The term ‘copywriter’ is being stretched to say the least. Something professional copywriters will have mixed feelings about.

Everyone can write copy, even robots!

You can write by the word or by the blog post. You can write to deliver. A constant stream of words, trickling towards one end goal: SEO.

But what then of quality? Of consistency? Of engaging tone? How long has it been since anyone mentioned the word ‘craft’? Oh precious ageing writer! What frets thou so!

The less interesting fact is, there’s a knack to blogs, regardless of creative talent. A strong eye for detail and good research skills help. It’s editorial, ultimately. So, bank those similes, remember those analogies and make sure you’re up to date on latest lingo your audience might like. Social media sets the tone but it doesn’t always have the intellect to follow through with anything worth remembering – yet ignore it at your peril.

Unless, of course, you’re a business operator.

The death of social media?

When JD Wetherspoon announced they were no longer investing in social media marketing, a long sigh drifted out of ad land.

Perhaps, thought the Creative Directors of the UK’s finest marketing agencies, perhaps now is the time the content explosion will settle down. Like the outspoken teenager in the marketing family, perhaps content will become more accepted for what it is. Maybe we can get back to the big idea!

Or perhaps we are simply entering a new phase in the marketing landscape. You know, the landscape where nothing stays the same for very long – or at least, that’s what you’re led to believe.

Because of course, there are business aspects that do stay the same, regardless of changes to the marketplace or innovations or trends. Like, if you want quality work, you have to find quality people.

Marketing trends may come and go. But the bankable fact of business is that talent is what drives brand success. As with the thinking behind the Wetherspoon decision, if you don’t make the right connections, you’re not going to make inroads anywhere.

It’s a sobering fact. Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

International Women’s Day 2018

This year, I’ve resolved to up my networking and do more good stuff. As a creative copywriter, I think it’s important to find inspiration where you can. And while we might spend most of our lives in the digital space these days, real life is quite good too.

So, after booking onto a special networking event in celebration of International Women’s Day, I took a train to Shoreditch to catch up with She’s Back at Mother London. To be honest, I’d have gone to listen to people talk about paint drying, just to get my foot in the door of this brilliant building.

I’ve walked down Redchurch Street so many times and wondered what gems lay behind the Mother London doors of the illustrious Biscuit Building. The secret buttons that buzz to let you in through those darkened windows of an East End creative power house.

To finally be walking through those double doors was an inspiration in itself for me. I feel like I could be breaking a code of uncoolness here in saying it, but I’m going for it anyway. Mother was just as trend-setting as I’d imagined.

The walls had original artworks by the likes of Peter Blake and props adorned the entrance hall, all used in actual ads for the likes of brands such as IKEA. Staff are treated to free lunches every, single day. Not just on the Friday before pay day. They also get the day after Mother’s Day off as paid holiday. It ties in with their brand values and is frankly, an unexpected, quirky add-on. This is employee engagement with effortless ease.

If only all employers could be so forward thinking. Of the three members of staff whom we met, all three were working flexibly. Two had kids and were women, one did not and was a man, proving again that it’s not just mothers who want flexible working. Tom happens to be an ex-colleague of mine, so this was an added bonus; he uses his days off consulting with other start-up projects. Yes, I was suitably jealous and impressed by this fact, all at the same time.

Does your brand walk the talk? 

Mother London doesn’t just look good, it acts good. And as we all know, brands can often say they’re something without actually walking the talk. It’s just not good marketing. So it’s encouraging to see that the ‘world’s leading independent creative network’ as they call themselves, really are showing us all how it’s done. They’ve nailed the art of self-promotion, that’s for sure. And their work is utterly brilliant.

Right, I’ve got back up now, just had a little swoon there for a minute.

Back to the event. As a creative copywriter and brand strategist who has been working with lots of recruitment and business-to-business brands recently, I was here to get to know She’s Back, an organisation promoting women in business, and, specifically, one that’s aimed at helping women returners get back in the professional saddle. I also wanted to network and meet likeminded individuals and find inspiration to bring to my work.

Networking is work with value – unlike email 

It’s true that networking events aren’t every copywriter’s slice of shortbread, but I’m a firm believer that if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’ll get something out of it.

Here are my main take outs:

  1. It’s karma not kickbacks

Networking might feel painful at the outset, particularly for anti-social copywriters, but once you start, it can actually be very rewarding in unexpected ways.

  1. Reframe your thinking

Don’t ask, what can these people do for me, but rather, how can I help these people? If a barrier is that people will just pick your brains, try to turn that around. For example, ask what younger, more junior people can do for you?

  1. Say less, say it slowly

Good presentation is just like good copywriting. If you use fewer words and take lots of breaths – full points are your friend – you’ll have more impact than if you say loads and don’t filter your message.

It was a great day but a little deflating to see that there are lots of women out there simply oozing with unfulfilled talent. WHY?

We’ve got International Women’s Day, so why haven’t we got jobs for the (senior) girls?

I’m lucky to be a freelance copywriter with lots of lovely clients, but until brands realise there’s massive potential in hiring senior professional women – women who have had their children and who want their next career break, possibly flexibly, possibly not – they’ll never quite be on the same level as the Mother Londons of this world.

Let’s face it, we might all be in the gutter together, but there are still only a few of us who are looking up at the stars.

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