By, Jorden Eyermann
July 31, 2017 at 5:01 pm
This year marks the ten year anniversary since the premiere of Mad Men. The story starts at the “Golden Age” of advertising, and follows the life of copywriter turned creative director, Don Draper. The show was different for AMC. At the end of listening to Matt Weiner pitch the entire Don Draper/Dick Whitman storyline, the AMC staff sat in silence and then let Matt know it was brilliant. (Wayne)
Christina Wayne was in charge of launching the original scripted department at AMC. She says in a Variety article “Up to that point, the channel had only aired old films and had made a few attempts at unscripted programming.” (Wayne) The Mad Men story would go on to win numerous Emmy awards, and is still watched on syndicated television and online streaming services.
Mad Men shows the classic hard work and value of copywriting. Don Draper’s main focus for many episodes is to hone client’s advertisements through the writing. He pitches client’s main benefit with a talented author’s charm, and often wins the business.
Like Don Draper, a real life copywriter can promote your company’s competitive advantage. Copywriters benefit marketing plans around the world daily, but some businesses do not understand the trade. Your company can see the importance of an experienced writer by looking at the historic value of a copywriter, the way a copywriter develops a unique tone, and the way a copywriter highlights a company’s competitive advantage.
1. The Historic Value of a Copywriter
David Ogilvy is a founding father of what we know as copywriting today. The word copywriter dates back to 1911 and is defined as “a writer of advertising or publicity copy.” (Merrian-Webster) David Ogilvy is one of the most famous copywriters and an icon in the advertising industry. He founded one of the world’s largest advertising agencies, and led the way for future copywriters. Lauren Stampler wrote a Business Insider article about David, and said, “Not quite a household name (but worthy of a few shout-outs in Mad Men), the British born ad man founded the agency that is now known as Ogilvy & Mather in 1948. Even today, industry insiders continue to use Ogilvy’s best-selling Confessions of an Advertising Man as their bible.”
David Ogilvy wrote twelve controversial tips for copywriting. (Stampler) Two of them are very valuable to understand what a copywriter has added to businesses for decades. The two tips below are some of the work copywriters still do in order to build a brands market value.
David’s fourth tip is “I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.” (Stampler)
David’s sixth suggestion is “Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.”
2. A Copywriter Develops Your Brand’s Tone
You want a copywriter to develop your brand’s tone. A brand’s tone is the voice and personality your audience hears when they see your marketing content. Imagine an advertisement for McDonald’s, Pepsi, and the film The Revenant. Each advertisement has a different personality, especially McDonald’s, compared to The Revenant. A copywriter creates the tone that matches the brand. Sometimes he or she has to find the brand’s voice and sometimes it’s matching an existing brand image.
Coke Zero recently had a lot of rebranding. A copywriter helped change the soda’s name, and designed marketing materials to shape Coke’s zero-sugar option in a completely new way. A July, 2017 Advertising Age article says “Coca-Cola Co. is killing Coke Zero in favor of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. It’s hard to tell what’s different, however, beyond a significant design and branding overhaul.” A lot of the changes came from a copywriter’s hard work and now Coke will put Coca Cola Zero Sugar to market and see if it pays off.
There are ways copywriters can gauge if their work is going to work. It is not fool proof, but checking if five themes are in the final work can test the value of a copywriter. Forbes wrote on five questions to ask yourself about your marketing content, which can be asked of copywriters, too. Answering if a copywriters content is informative/useful, more valuable/useful than other sites’ content, credible, high quality, and engaging are five ways to find the worth of a copywriter. (Shorr) A diligent copywriter can separate themselves from a lazy one. These questions help sort them out.
3. A Copywriter Highlights Your Company’s Competitive Advantage
REI’s 2016 Clio Grand winning #OptOutside guerrilla campaign is a strong example of an advertisement with a strong spotlight on the brand’s competitive advantage. (Clios) 170 stores closed on Black Friday following REI’s lead. The campaign for #OptOutside gained 6.7 billion media impressions. That is a lot of people seeing REI’s main benefit of getting people outside.
Sometimes, a company’s leader doesn’t know their competitive advantage and can nurture a skilled copywriter into finding it. Harvard Business Review has an article on three techniques a business leader can use to inspire a copywriter into finding a competitive advantage. A leader can be an explorer, gardener, or take on a player-coach role. (Brown)
The explorer tactic has the leader asking the copywriter strategically practical questions. The questions can lead to bring value to the company by finding new information important to the company. The company can find a competitive advantage it did not know it had.
The gardener approach grows an environment where the copywriter and creativity can thrive. The copywriter has everything he needs to make smart choices. The good environment nurtures more innovative ideas, and can lead finding the best competitive advantage.
The player-coach role is the most challenging, because it requires a great level of involvement. It’s similar to the gardener tactic, but the leader helps the team innovate. The leader works side by side with the team. The leader must not be too dominating or the team will suffer, but the leader can help spur on the process toward learning the competitive advantage.
A diligent copywriter can help build your business. He or she can add value by doing a lot of research, planning, and execution of marketing campaigns. A meticulous copywriter knows the historic value of copywriting, how to develop a brand’s unique voice, and highlights your company’s competitive advantage. A good copywriter can boost your company’s value. The story of copywriter Don Draper is celebrating it’s ten year anniversary, and a valuable writer can help you celebrate future successes. What is the writing like for your business?
Brown, Tim. “Leaders Can Turn Creativity into a Competitive Advantage.” Harvard Business Review., 2 Nov. 2016. Web.
“Copywriter.” Merriam-Webster. Web. 31 July 2017.
“REI – #OptOutside.” Clios., 2016. Web.
Schultz, E.J. “Coca-Cola Axes Coke Zero for ‘Coca-Cola Zero Sugar’.” Advertising Age. N.p., 26 July 2017. Web.
Shorr, Brad. “The Secrets To Hiring And Developing The Best Copywriters For Your Website.” Forbes., 3 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 July 2017.
Stampler, Laura. “12 ‘Appalling’ Copywriting Tips From David Ogilvy, The Original Mad Man.” Business Insider., 25 Jan. 2012. Web. 31 July 2017.
Wayne, Christina. “‘Mad Men’ 10th Anniversary: AMC Alum Christina Wayne Remembers the Show’s Birth.” Variety., 19 July 2017. Web.