I confess. Sometimes I can be a little slow off the mark. This time though I’ve surpassed myself. It’s taken until the 4th series of Mad Men for the penny to drop and for me to become hooked lined and sinkered by Don Draper and his super dapper fragile colleagues over at Sterling Cooper.
It’s not just me who’s addicted. It seems like half the known universe has fallen for the sharp suites, sharper tongues and Saharan dry humour of Madison Avenue’s top copywriting aces.
“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK,“ purrs Draper. How could you not be seduced by this man?
Copywriting it’s the new copywriting
I’ve had all kinds of Don groupies telling me recently how they’d like to ‘get into advertising’. Friends mailing me from Finland, former colleagues dropping in, calls from those I’d presumed MIA. Me too!!! If ‘getting into advertising’ is a sassy and slick as portrayed on TV, make mine a double…. then we can discuss it over a long lunch.
Unfortunately though, the world of advertising as seen on screen doesn’t really exist any more, if it ever truly did. Surely Madmen is just a window on an largely imaginary or wholly vanished world. It is a TV show remember?
Just like when people talk about the ‘summer of love’ or’punk’. Brief moments, experienced by relatively few and exploded into legend. It’s the retelling of a myth over time, the evolution of a narrative that creates the significance.
That’s not to say that much of the knowledge and many of the skills used in the 60’s and before don’t apply any longer. If anything those core copywriting abilities are needed now more than ever.
With so many advertising opportunities and so many messages that need to be shared these days, the skills of written persuasion are in even greater demand – SEO copywriting, website copywriting, email copywriting, PPC adwriting, blog copywriting…. you name it.
How do you create a headline that grabs people’s attention and draws them to read your body copy? How can you express your ‘promise’ persuasively. What about the call to action? How can you craft your copy into utterly irresistible words? These are serious questions. Copywriting matters.
Key copywriting skills, timeless copywriting skills.
Sterling Cooper seems to do it effortlessly – the script’s not shabby either.
Don?…. I… I…..ummm…I…….ummm……ummmm…. I…no..it’s…it’s… ok…..
P.S. Talking of advertising copywriters, check out this 1984 ‘Write If You Want Work‘ ad from J. Walter Thompson. What a great challenge. The discussion’s hot too.