Friday past I attended a copywriting course in the Guiness storehouse (see attached pics). The course, "Righter Writing" was hosted by the lovely Patrick Collister of Creative Matters and previously every agency in the UK it would seem. Impressive CV.
It was a mortifying experience for an Art Director clueless in copywriting, particularly because I stupidly and naively sat at the front. I guess the same set of rules of stand up comedy shows apply in lectures. Don't sit at the front if you don't want to be picked on and most importantly- if you're an idiot. I got both wrong.
Our first task was to write ones own obituary. What a hideous task. We had five minutes. I drew a coffin with a grim reaper sobbing over it. A speech bubble from him said "She was so so young. It was an accident". The drawing was shocking. Underneath it I wrote 1982-2010. I then sat for two of three minutes and wondered what the 25 strangers in the room were writing. Everyone seemed to be diligently scribbling away. Shit, better put something down so I wrote 'Annie will be missed very much by her friends and family because if she's not she will come back and haunt them till the end of time.'
Time was up. Momentary relief for me as we put our pens down. I never expected my idiocy to be exposed. Can you imagine my utter humilation when Patrick said "so....what have you written?". Sheee-it. Was he talking to me when he stood in front of me, looking at me asking that question? Surely not! Incrediously I looked left, then right and said "who me?". My inner monologue did a series of panicked f*ck, sh%t and cr@p's. I spluttered that I didn't have anything. Phew. Anyone else might have sensed I was a cretin and moved on, but Patrick perservered and encouraged, saying things like "come on, I seen you writing" and "don't be afraid, it's good to share. We're all learning here." Undeterred I persisted that I had nothing and I clung to my notepad as though I would reveal the 3rd secret of fatima were anyone to see it. I was prepared to eat that piece of paper before I'd share with the group. Eventually Patrick realised and moved on. Halleluia. This is what my obituary should have said:
Annie, female, aged 28. Died mortified. Suffered from horrendous congenital stupidity.
I can't help but feel my erratic behaviour set a precedent for the rest of the talk. I spent ages wondering if he thought I was an idiot, asking myself why the hell didn't I just say it and get it over with and a substainitial amount of time mentally slapping myself in the face.
In between all the self torture I was doing I managed to pick up quite a few tips. None of which I've implimented here, which is great. He's actually really smart so please don't let my writing be a reflection of the day.
Although not strictly just about copywriting and more about concepting I found his suggestion of approaching advertising from seven key points to be quite helpful for when you've hit a creative block. He broke down those seven types into key points.
1. The Presenter
3. Problem/ Solution
6. Slice of life (observation)
7. Borrowed interest.
You can approach any brief by looking at one or all seven of these themes. It's a clever way to think in terms generating thought starters for when you seem to run out of steam.
This isn't all the information I took from the day, it's just some simple pointers that help you over the hump. I'd have to write a dissertation or include the actual presentation if I was to go through everything. If you ever get the chance to see Patrick speak I'd highly recommend it.