In the era where the generation is madly in love with the T20 format, there are very few of them who love Test Cricket like a forgotten art. The same applies to Copywriting in advertising. This is the generation that’s born in the wake of Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. Their expressions are quite limited to characters in the message box and that’s not a good sign if you are a writer of this generation. There’s a stark difference between being a slogan writer, a one-liner stand-up comedian and a “Copywriter”. Let’s dwell on the long-lost art of “Long Copy”.
“Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”
– Howard Luck Gossage
Here’s what one of the greatest men in advertising had to say about long copy ads. As a reader, people tend to read what piques their interest. As copywriters, the basic mistake that we tend to commit is, we write to please the “Copywriter” within us, to show the world, how flawless is the grammar, how creative is the content, but we forget the basic requirement – does it interest the customer though? If the answer is no, there’s no point writing even a one-liner.
To master the forgotten art of long copy, what copywriters need to focus on is – the art of storytelling, and how you can get under the skin of the audience you’re addressing to. Understanding what they feel and what they are interested in is more important than how to write a hard-hitting punchline (pun intended). Eventually, what the copywriters are selling at the end of the day is not the product or a service – you are selling the experience and it cannot be put into ‘fancy’ words that the audience cannot relate to. In the words of the Father of Advertising himself, here’s what David Ogilvy had to say –
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
Long copy is a format that has its own grammar and syntax. It doesn’t apply to the syntax or grammar we apply for a short copy. The attention span of the audience is extremely scanty and to overcome this challenge in the long copy ad is an art only a few master and practice to date. The art of writing ‘long copy’ ads is not really “lost” per se. It has been experimented along with other traditional formats so often that its significance has been vehemently diluted.
It’s not just about the experiment. The brands have also been unfair to some extent by not giving justice to their time-sensitive narrative. Every story that’s churned out of the advertising agency has hardly had time to take proper shape. The advertisements that we see these days are a flawed symbiote of scarce time and huge creative potential.
It is common these days that youngsters who find it difficult to craft “Long Copy” ads, predominantly belong to the digital natives. They have great ideas that can win awards in ambient advertising, innovative activations, or brand publicity, but long copy seems like an uphill battle. To many aspiring Copywriters, David Ogilvy, Neil French, Doyle Dane Bernbach, who revolutionized the advertising industry, are role models in “Long Copy”.
Another faithful attempt to keep this art of ‘Long Copy’ alive was made by the erstwhile Creative Director of JWT, Bodhisatwa Dasgupta in the name of ‘Longhand’. The idea was born out of a sheer passion to resurrect copy. Junior writers these days are not taught the craft of copy and most of them don’t really care. In the opinion of Mr. Bodhisatwa, most of the print communication that goes out today lacks love in body copy and headlines are crap. Longhand was created to bring the power of copy back, but the waning interest of copywriters in the art led to the winding up of the phenomenon as we know it. Since there’s no glitz or glamour for writers winning this award, the entries began to fade out and that’s the reason ‘Long Copy’ remains to be a forgotten art.
At 3 Dots Design Pvt. Ltd., we believe that art, of any kind, needs to be nurtured, valued and prized. The art of copywriting is more like a legacy that needs to be passed on from one generation to another and every generation should be equally passionate about it. Being one of the best advertising agencies in Pune, we take charge of upholding this art and providing Copywriters a fair chance to grow with glory. If you are a copywriter who feels that your art needs to be noticed, we are all eyes for you. Drop-in your CV at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will ensure that your art is given the spotlight it deserves.