Strategy and Sausages:
A British Strategic Planner in Germany
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
The Joy of Words
If you look at the history of advertising, it's been a three-parter so far. Back in the very early days, many people couldn't read, or didn't have access to a daily paper, so advertising worked primarily through visuals and symbols. The first part of the 20th century was dominated by words - copy - and there was a golden age (I think) where art directors and copywriters were put together as teams and produced some of the best advertising ever. This co-incided with the rise of commercial TV.
Then there's this century so far, where screens are all around us, and the emoji has taken the place of the text-speak.
I still have a hankering after words, maybe because I write in my spare time. I recently got the book version of Shaun Usher's brilliant website, Letters of Note. Shaun Usher's favourite of his collected letters (and mine so far) has to be the 1934 covering letter from Robert Pirosh, who at that time was a Madison Avenue copywriter, but had designs on a career as a Hollywood scriptwriter.
How could anyone resist a letter that starts: 'I like words'? And, here it is in its full glory:
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
Robert Pirosh 385 Madison Avenue Room 610 New York Eldorado 5-6024
I have a belief that if we work in Marketing or Advertising, even if we aren't copywriters, we should be able to put together words in a way that shows we like them, love them even. We are in the business of communication, so surely our documents and presentations should be written with care and feeling and attention to the richness our vocabulary gives.
Instead we (self included) so often fall back on whatever the flavour of the year buzz words are. Engagement (which to me is nothing more than an amalgam of the first bits of that AIDA model - awareness/attention and interest/involvement.) Experience. Insight. Content. KPIs.
Next time, I'll see if I can replace those with fat, buttery words, suave 'V' words or even sullen, crabbed, scowling words.
When I was little, I wanted to be a spy. I got off to a good start, studying Psychology at Trinity College, Cambridge but somehow got side-tracked into the wonderful world of advertising and marketing.
My children's books: