Copywriting is old, very old. And, its usual cohort – the advertising world is just as anciently amazing. Behold an advertisement from ye olde year of the 1st century AD in the glorious streets of Pompeii, Rome: A fresco depicting delicious feasts with words engraved, now lost in the throes of time.
Words etched into stone depicting an image and a ‘hook’ have existed far longer than this though. Tracing back to the Egyptians, advertisements were found in papyrus scripts, while Shakespeare’s play bill graced the streets of London with tantalizing lines such as “All’s lost by Lust!” (allegedly).
Words following each other in a manner most pleasing, the advertising world flourished long before young, wet-behind-the-ears interns thrashed in front of the omnipresent Apple logo, trying to come up with THAT line.
How does one do it? More importantly, how do we do it?
How do two words as simple as ‘Think Different’, give birth to an era of innovation and change in society, with a zeitgeist unimaginable?
It’s all in those details, honestly.
The process behind copywriting is one of great intrigue and motivation, with endless hours of self-questioning and countless drafts deleted. And how does one even begin becoming a copywriter? We won’t ask why today ;).
For me, it was a switch, much like when Lindsay Lohan switched bodies with the bodacious Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday: I had to become a whole new person inside while behaving like my old self on the outside.
See, I started out as a long-form technical writer. The one who’s responsible for making pamphlets and marketing collaterals for pharmaceutical or finance companies. When I was tasked with a digital marketing gig in 2016, the world of short-form writing blew me away – we have ‘x’ amount of words to make a product sell.
From fine-dining to iconic fashion – all these topics which I can write long monologues for, had to be packaged and delivered in a sentence of a mere 10 words or less. The shorter, the snippier, the better.
And here in the world of short-form, I found a world of whimsy and challenge that drives me to this day. As a rather loquacious personality, am I able to help the reader yearn or aspire for the product? We’re not selling just a pizza, we’re selling the experience of eating it, enjoying it, and urging the reader to salivate for it beyond a blue-lit screen.
If you peel your eyes, you’ll see just how much of the world runs on beautifully written copy.
Where’s the inspo for a kitchen utensil?
Not every brief we get is going to be a sexy selling agenda for an uber-cool, off-the-charts, oh-my-lord what is this product?! But that doesn’t mean you approach it any differently.
A snazzy car? Oh, yes. A cheese grater? Oh to the yes still. It’s not up to the product to be desirable. It’s up to us, the henceforth bastions of advertising to make it -whatever the ‘it’ may be, aspirational.
As copywriters, it’s not just our job, but our aim to make everyone, everything, everywhere, all at once feel a jolt of something. Joy, sad, smirk, happy, cry, fear. All emotions, one line, ever fewer words.
To take a few seconds out of their day. And move them.
We look forward to what Amul’s butter lady has to say about pop culture. The world, even the Earth-ians who don’t really care for baseball, tune into the Super Bowl halftime ads. We look to the UK’s Christmas advertisement rollout to feel all the emotions at once.
And that’s the beauty of copywriting. No product or thing or person or place is beyond achievable- they’re all something you need in your life. In order to make your life sing.