Review of “The Idea Writers: Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Era”

The Idea Writers – Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Era by Teresa Iezzi with an afterword by Lee Clow and Jeff Goodby is an in-depth look at the state of today’s copywriting and brand creativity in today’s advertising. With insight on creative process and campaign development from the industry’s leading creatives, Iezzi provides solid advice for copywriters at all stages of their career – from those trying to break into it to those trying to become more involved with branding. A useful guide for industry professional understand brand creativity today, the book actually starts with a detailed examination of the changes in the digital realm that have completely remade the advertising industry before jumping into a number of case studies.

The rise of smart phones, social media and other internet phenomenon’s have fundamentally changed that manner in which advertising and copy-writing relates to consumers of media. Iezzi quotes New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program professor Clay Shirky in the book Here Comes Everybody, to make her point on the depth of this change: “We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race.” Because of this the general rulebook that governed advertising affairs for over a hundred years is no longer applicable and for that reason, it’s a more exciting and potentially creatively rewarding time for those in the “since Bill Bernbach put art directors and copywriters together and proved that effective advertising could be witty, quotable and uplifting rather than a dreary recitation of “unique selling points.”

Though this is the case, Iezzi doesn’t dismiss the importance of the ad work created and books written by the Fathers of Modern Advertising such as Rosser Reeves – a pioneer in writing for the emerging media of television, the man responsible for the idea of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and the person who was the inspiration for Don Draper in Mad Men. What does Iezzi see as the thread that connecting those such as Reeves, Bill Burnbach, and David Ogilvy? Simple. Effective story-telling.

Quoting the book A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink, Iezzi points out how it is the ability to detect patterns and create narratives, to understand human interaction, to seek and convey meaning that are the new marketable skill sets rather than the ability to write a perfectly crafted headline according to a pseudo-scientific formula. These skill are important not only as many marketing agencies in the present are just likely to be producing an app or a web experiment as a form of commercial communication but also in the age of greater corporate scrutiny it’s important for corporations to at least appear that they are doing the right thing.

Another challenge of today’s copywriter is being able to telling a story across multiple platforms while involving the consumer in that story – something also gone into detail in Storyscaping. Here the views of Gaston Legoburu and Darren McColl matches that of Iezzi on the future of advertising. They both state that design and story are key for informing the interaction that plays out between brands and consumers. With this in mind, creatives can achieve the goal of having their customers message proactively talked about and shared by people that will at best transition into brand ambassadors and at least increase sales during the increase in brand awareness.

Building on this Iezzi adds the following:

“The copywriter (is) responsible for putting things into the world, and those things should be useful, entertaining or beautiful, or all of those things. They should make people feel better, not worse, about them- selves, the brand involved and living in the world in general.”

Advertising has to offer an entertaining reason for people to even acknowledge its existence. I’ve heard a variety of numbers but I’ve yet to see a source for the number, but I’ve heard that it’s something like 85 percent of ads go unnoticed by people. Not surprise given the large amount of messages that are being sent past them every day. As Gossage himself words it: “The fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”

In addition to the analysis of the history of marketing and how the qualities of the new digital age impacts modern marketing, Teresa Iezzi provides a lot of valuable case studies for effective campaign processes and final products as well as giving instructions for those that are establishing themselves as a brand.

The book closes with a number of considerations for career development one someone is already in the field that could be distilled into the words “influencer marketing”. If there are events where what you do will be discussed, put yourself forward as a speaker or panel member. If there’s a story written about the kind of work you do, contact the writer and send her some of your work to keep in mind for next time. Apply the same self-promotion guidelines to your personal projects and you’ll always be wanted by people in the marketing industry.

 

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