Monday, 21 December 2009

It pays to advertise... but what?

I've always been fascinated by advertising. So much so that, in 1983, I even put together my own 3 hour video collection of adverts.

Sadly, it didn't survive the dampness of the front room in our old house (mould 'r' us) but I still have fond memories of watching the video avidly, in chunks, while the rest of the family gave me a wide berth.

It's a bit of a dark art - what to show and what not to show. Much like writing. The golden rule, it seems to me, is that you only tell people what you want them to know. Or, to translate that into corporate speak: "Perception is everything and strategy is everything else."

Recently, a 'top ads of the decade' TV programme crowned a Hovis advert as the winner. Even a coeliac would have to admit that the ad was superbly crafted, depicting a scrap of a lad fetching the family loaf and running through 120 years of British history. Cutting through different streets, he encountered the First World War soldier boys, the Suffragettes, the burned out buildings of the Blitz, a VE party and the jubilation of a 1966 England word cup victory. So far so inspirational.

It doesn't detract from the ad any but I did proffer a wry smile when I learned that only between 25% and 50% of British wheat is used by the brand, with the remainder being imported from Canada. In the interest of balance, I should point out that Hovis is moving to 100% British grown wheat from 2010.

Returning to the writing theme, most of us are familiar with the joys of CV writing. What to include, what to omit and which keywords to employ, all conveying a combination of superhero, Swiss Army Knife and human dynamo. For writers, the focus has to be on the writing and what you want them to know.

My current CV covers articles, comedy and fiction. More recently, with some copy writing under my belt and some additional training, I realise that I need to be more client specific. A business may not find my achievements in comedy encouraging if they are looking for new training material or in-house literature. In short, a writer, just like any other business, has to respond to the needs of the marketplace and to meet those needs.

Artists have patrons - or malnutrition; writers, with few exceptions, have a business to run.


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