Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The London long copy challenge, from CBS Outdoor

(or 'You don't know me. But you will.')

What do you do?

Are you a copywriter? An art director? A designer? A planner? A client? Are you an advertising account manager or director? Are you a journalist? Do you work in PR?

I have no idea. I can't see you sitting there reading this.

But I do know one thing about you that is absolutely certain.

You've stood waiting for a train. On a platform. On your own. Fairly bored.

And, like anyone who's ever inspected the writing on a bottle of shampoo while they poo, you've looked for some words to read to occupy your mind and pass the time.

Thank goodness, then, for long copy, which can be described as any attempt by an advertising writer to capture your attention for more than a split second and tell you a story and entertain you by making you laugh, smile, cry, change your mind, or perhaps even all of the above.

This art and craft is not dead. It's very much alive, several metres under ground, beneath the streets of London.

So who better to champion the art of long copy than CBS Outdoor, the London Underground media specialist?

It launched the London long copy challenge a few months ago.

I 'wrote' a 'blog post' on it here.

Well someone was impressed by my insightful copy, because CBS Outdoor's PR company, Edelman, invited me to the awards that took place last night at the Getty Gallery (thanks, Katie, and hello Will).

Just as well, really, because I hadn't entered the competition.

But a lot of creatives did. Around 500 teams, I think.

Including Xara, Glenn and Cat.

You don't know them. But you will (smiley face).

Xara Higgs, Specsavers Creative

I nearly bumped into Xara on platform 3 at Oxford Circus. Like me, she was photographing the long copy ads that CBS had been showcasing.

Only she wasn't a punter. She'd written this beauty:

Client: Specsavers
Creatives: Naomi Bishop, Catherine Thomas & Xara Higgs
Agency: Specsavers Creative

Very funny, hey? I saw people laughing at it later in the gallery.

So I was glad when it made it to the final ten.

Well done Xara and Specsavers. And In case you didn't know, they're based in Guernsey and it's an in-house team.

Glenn, freelance,

Glenn introduced himself in front of this cracking ad in the not for profit entries. Have a read. It's beautifully written, right up to the very last word:

Client: MicroLoan Foundation
Creatives: Richard J Warren & Paul Hancock
Agency: DLKW Lowe

I think Glenn is probably someone else you don't know but you will soon. He didn't make it to the final show last night but his entry to the long copy challenge was shortlisted and based on the work he'd done for a Chevrolet brief from Idea Bounty.

He and his partner Aimee also came second in Idea's Bounty FT brief with the idea for an app that persuades you to pay for FT content by monkeying around with your business calendar and sending you relevant company info from the FT. Clever, heh? I can see why it came 2nd. Wonder what came first.

Here's their entry into the long copy challenge, which made it to the long list of 90, not the final 60. But as Glenn said, he'll take that for him and his partner, Aimee's first combined entry. Damn straight:

Glenn & Aimee, freelancers, - check back at the end of this week when their new site will go live

Cat Arundel, the Uber agency, Sheffield

The third interesting person I met last night was Cat. She was in front of me in the cloakroom queue. She wrote this funny ad for Allied carpets, which I had remembered reading. You will too:

Client: Allied Carpets & Flooring
Creative: Cat Arundel
Agency: Uber Agency

And, happily, Cat hadn't put an apostrophe in T&Cs. While this was a long copy challenge, not a grammar challenge, if you're a professional writer, you should really know where an apostrophe goes and where it doesn't.

That means you, the person who put an apostrophe in 80s. Tut tut. You were talking about something that belonged to the number 80, were you?

From losers (smelly faece) to winners

I can't spot any dodgy apostrophes in the winners, can you?

Both the following teams win £125,000 worth of media space for their client and £2K worth of shopping vouchers, meaning whoever you are, it definitely pays to write long copy.

Commercially driven

Client: adidas
Creatives: Phil Kitching, Tim Clegg & John Murphy
Agency: iris

Their copy: The poster celebrates the fact that adidas are sponsoring Team GB in the London 2012 Olympic Games. And where better to announce the imminent arrival of a new generation of British athletes than on the transport system that will take Londoners to the Games.

The pared-back and simple visual is of a photographic studio, as yet empty, suggesting the imminent arrival of someone famous.
On the clean white space, naked ambition of an as yet unknown Team GB athlete appear, whose tone embodies the true spirit of the new generation of Team GB Olympic athletes.

Not for profit

Client: Kids Company
Creatives: Graham Fink & Simon Dicketts
Agency: M&C Saatchi

Their copy: Kids Company is a charity that provides emotional and practical support to over 14,000 deprived and vulnerable children across London. As with any charitable organisation, they rely on the generosity of others to fund the essential work they do.

Our brief was to create a campaign that would help to generate a large amount of smaller donations from people across London, as well as engaging them in the seemingly ‘invisible’ problem of vulnerable children in our city – children who are probably no more than a stone’s throw away from the stations and Tube lines we pass through everyday and who form part of our London community.

See the rest of the London long copy challenge winners here.

What do you reckon? Where you there last night? Did you enter? Did you win?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

D&AD Sharp'ner, Truman Brewery, Thursday 11 November

Should I really be writing this at 9.25 with a 12.00 deadline?

Probably not. The thing is, part of the reason I want to write about this so much is BECAUSE of that 12.00 deadline.

John Simmons made an interesting point last Thursday. Actually he made a lot of interesting points but one in particular stuck in my mind.

He made the point that all too often copywriters are brought in at the last minute to 'fix' some work.

And then what happens?

At 6pm on Sunday evening I get a call from a client asking if I can come in the next day (and I'm assured it'll only take one day) to rescue a self-promotional brochure that's been rubbished by its own people.

And I just can't help but get slightly annoyed. Because this brochure's been cobbled together from a white paper and some thoughts from a couple of directors. And now they want to try to fix this Frankenstein's monster in a day.

Now I'm not saying it's not possible (and when I finish writing this I'm off to finish off writing that), but on Sunday night I couldn't help thinking of a car mechanic analogy.

Customer: "Hi there, my car's broken. But can you do me a favour? Can you just spend a day on it? Thanks."

Mechanic: "No problem. I'll do what I can in a day."

Does that sound right to you? Sounds a bit shaky to me. Then I started to think of a scenario where you might possibly 'just try to patch the car up' and I thought of an F1 car race, where a mechanic might now that the engine is going to blow up eventually but that for the next 27 laps, it might just be okay.

And then I thought how apt this new analogy was for business. And how everything always seems to be a race (usually against time).

But my question is this: is it really a race?

This brochure's clearly been 'not happening' for months. Why rush it now when you've got the copywriter in?


Monday, November 8, 2010

Remember, Call of Duty: Black Ops is just a game

That's right, keep telling yourself that, as you peruse the real-life 'stuff' on which its ten new weapons and items are based.

According to community manager Josh Olin, Treyarch called upon the services of three different military advisors:

Lieutenant Colonel Hank Keirsey (who's consulted for previous COD titles) contributed to making sure the Vietnam War sequences feel accurate;

former Spetsnaz member Sonny Puzikas gave the team a primer on Spetsnaz combat tactics,

and Major John Plaster provided insight to how Black Ops were undertaken in general based on his experience within the SOG.

Heckler & Koch G11 assault rifle

China Lake pump action grenade launcher

CZ75 with full-auto upgrade

(closest gun range to an international airport award)

HS-10 shotgun

PSG1 sniper rifle (most inappropriate theme music award)

Stoner 63 rifle (more about its designer, than the gun itself)

Camera spike (alright, you've got me, this one isn't real life)

Jammer (okay so not quite the same thing - a mobile phone jammer - but even more fun, especially since these things work IMMEDIATELY meaning the wife in this clip is yapping so much, she doesn't even realise the person she's talking to has gone)

Motion sensor

I can't find a single good clip for a motion sensor, so here's some footage of special forces at Mazar Sharif in Afghanistan:

Decoy grenade (gameplay)

Guardian review

The article I used as a source for this post