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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).

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.

AI and the written word

There’s a lot being written about AI at the moment. You know it’s serious when your sister-in-law has an smart home device installed in her 17th century farmhouse. Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, you name it – everyone’s at it. By this time next year, we’ll all have a robot in the room – maybe even in several rooms.

After that, who knows?

Artificial Intelligence could be taking over our cooking, our diaries and our thought processes at a push – advertising messages could soon be beamed into our homes without the need of the internet, radio or TV to support them.

 

The question is, will robots be able to copywrite them too? For brands seeking to engage with customers, creating human connections is even more important in today’s fragmented media world. And strong, well thought out messaging is a crucial part of that.

If there’s one thing copywriters know, it’s that everyone – man or machine – thinks they’re a writer. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Copywriters needn’t worry too much just yet.

Meanwhile, if you’re off to put Alexa on the top of your shopping list, you won’t be the only one.

As Executive Creative Director, Paul Kitcatt, recently wrote in The Drum, “Just when you get wind of a new trend in technology, you find it’s already happened, and it’s changed your life forever.”

September

I’m on the hunt for a new role and your ad excited me.

Concepts. Long copy. Short form. Digital. Social. Direct. Film. Strategy. Proofing.
Bring me in. You won’t be put out. They say it’s hard to find a good writer these days.
Well you just have. Let’s talk…
Hello

Dream film script

I’m pretty happy with this piece of work, see below.

A dream piece, no less, featuring a few of my favourite things: Beer, Rugby and Cornwall. Lovely.

The brief was to deliver a brand film tapping into the brand promise, ‘Quality Speaks for Itself’, bringing this delicious local ale to new audiences further afield. Great photography with exquisite shots have really brought the original script to life. Just add one brilliant Art Director…

 

 

 

Say it loud

Copywriting tip no. 92

When you’re writing, say your words out loud before settling on a final draft.

Everyone knows this, right? Whether we want to be known as the office loon, is another matter. In a busy work environment, you might feel a bit foolish suddenly speaking what you’re writing, but it is hugely helpful when sense checking and proofreading what you’ve written.

Mumble it, mutter it or splutter it.

Far better to seem like madness is setting in than make a mistake. Remember, grammar is there to be respected but sometimes the vernacular is necessary when writing good copy. If your copy is too stilted, it won’t sound natural or conversational and will actually turn customers off.

Good English or good copy? 

Grammar pedants aren’t always right when it comes to critiquing the written word. This is where a good copywriter can bridge the gap between writing compelling sales copy and correct use of English. For example, in spite of what your teacher may have said, starting sentences with ‘and’ or ‘so’ is permissible. But we all know this, right?

So if we know so much, why is writing great copy, so difficult? Unfortunately, some things can’t be taught. You’ve either got a knack for it, or you haven’t. When it comes to your business, it’s this knack that brings results. And that’s where I come in.

Get in touch if you need a copywriter to bring some copy magic to your communications. I’d love to hear from you.