Advertising 101: Copywriters

No, it’s not a person who deals with copyrights or trademarks.

It’s a person who does two things:

a) develops advertising concepts, usually working with an art director or interactive designer; and

b) writes all the text for each tactic (whether it’s a print ad, radio/TV spot, direct mail piece, brochure, billboard, Web banner, e-mail, Web site, etc.)

It can be glamorous. It can be frustrating.

It can be fun. It can be boring.

How does one become a copywriter? There isn’t a “standard” path to take. Some come through advertising-specific schools like The Creative Circus or The Portfolio Center or the VCU AdCenter. Some attend “regular” colleges/universities and major in advertising or communications.

Or if you’re like me, you majored in communications and English (double major, thank you very much) and even went to grad school (for a degree that doesn’t really exist anymore: Master of Journalism, Public Relations & Advertising)

Based on my 13+ years in the biz, I can assert that most copywriters are clever, witty and tuned into pop culture. (Sometimes to a scary degree – just test me on Seinfeld or Cheers trivia.)

Some of us prefer the solitary, “alone in a dimly-lit room” working process, while others (like me) do best working in a cooperative, partner-or-team kind of atmosphere.

Although it depends on each creative person’s skill set, it’s not uncommon for a copywriter to come up with a good visual idea (or an art director to think up a great headline).

Personally, my favorite type of project is a radio spot. I relish the challenge of working in a non-visual medium, utilizing sound effects, music and voices to create a scene and attempt to persuade listeners to act. (Oh, and I love doing voices, too. I may post a list of voices I do in an upcoming blog.)

For samples of copywriting that represent some of my best work, check out my portfolio link at the top of the page.

And if you have any questions about copywriting, feel free to throw them in the Comments section.

Advertising 101: Class is in session

Seeing as how my greatest (and most viewed) blog entry of all time is The Pros and Cons of an Advertising Career, it seems that Web searchers might like to read my take on various roles within an advertising agency – as well as issues affecting advertising (and therefore, pop culture).

To be continued in my next blog…”Advertising 101: Copywriters”

An open letter to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.

OK, Rube. First off, congrats on the gig. You deserve it – you’ve paid your dues and you’re eminently qualified. (And heck, you worked at the Orleans 8 movie theater in northeast Philly, you REALLY deserve it.)

Let’s get down to business. I’m sure you’re going to make a lot of solid moves, re-signing key guys and such. But I have one major suggestion/request/plea (in two parts):

1–Let Pat Burrell go. It’s not that I don’t like him, or that his on-base percentage and relatively consistent homer totals aren’t good – they are. But he’s 32, he doesn’t run well or play the field well, and he’s probably going to demand $14 million or so for several years – and he probably won’t be “worth” that after the first two.

2–Trade for Matt Holliday. Whatever you need to give up from the minors, do it. He’ll step right into that really good outfield with Jayson Werth and Gold Glove-winner Shane Victorino – he’s 28, his on-base was actually much better than Burrell’s this year, and he even stole 28 bases. Sign him to a multi-year deal, and watch the homers fly between Utley/Holliday/Howard.

Thanks for your time, and good luck.

Your pal


A post-election post

I don’t normally talk politics on my blog, but it’s darn-near impossible to not address the major paradigm shift we’ve just begun as a country. So I’m going to try to be as objective as I can – drawing on my liberal arts undergrad studies (thanks, Ursinus College) and my journalistic training (thanks, Temple University). (Apologies, Dear Reader, sometimes I’m such an academic snob/dork.)

Barack Obama won in a landslide because he ran a campaign about hope that inspired millions. John McCain lost for a variety of reasons, but the major one being that his campaign wasn’t very McCain-like.

I really wanted to see a civil campaign in which the candidates discussed their positions intelligently. I wanted to see political advertising that was more about “what I’m going to do for you” and less about “the other guy’s flaws.”

While Obama seemed to live up to my expectations, John McCain didn’t. The man who built his reputation as an aisle-crossing, let’s-work-together Congressman ended up approving attack ad after attack ad. His campaign trotted out the anti-American, anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright, even though Sarah Palin’s wacky clergyman was praying for protection against witchcraft and hosting anti-Semitic guest speakers.

McCain approved messages talking about Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers, a “domestic terrorist.” Obama, to his credit, never discussed McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five corruption scandal of the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Americans had a simple choice: positivity vs. negativity. And after the past eight years, it was time for some good old-fashioned American hope.

P.S.: Although I am personally very happy to see Barack Obama win this election, I am also glad he made sure to note in his victory speech that our nation’s problems won’t just go away because he won. But I think he’s the right man to lead our country out of these troubled times. And I wish him all the luck in the world.