How to write stress free copy!

NOTE: The copy that follows is not meant to cause any offence to the people mentioned in it. It is a pure attempt to write ‘good copy’, and nothing but just that. In case you are a servicing person or a client with no pity for an innocent little trying-to-be-humourous copywriter, please avoid reading.

To write stress free copy, type: S – T – R – E – S – S – F – R – E - E – C – O – P - Y

Ok sorry for the bad PJ. On a serious note, to write a bad copy (oops!), I mean to have complete peace of mind, follow 2 simple steps:

STEP 1: Agree. Agree. Just agree.

Whoever said, “Clients can’t write copy!” Of course they can. You never realise but they are your copy helpers in disguise. And the biggest thing is that they APPROVE what they write (or should I say what they make you type)! Imagine them doing their own work and you earning big bucks for that!

STEP 2: Listen. Follow.

Listen to what the servicing person thinks will be approved. Pay complete attention to this genius’ remarks, follow the instructions, blindly. His comments are an effigy of the client’s needs. You are a loser if you disagree.

Bas, these 2 steps, followed regularly and you will survive as the most stress free person on Planet Ad! And more than anything, the title of ‘the bad copy guru’ comes as an incentive!

So friends, keep writing… as they like it.

A lovely gesture

We know each other for some ten years now. We were classmates in college. A whole gang that used to maintain a good balance between serious studies and good times together. As years passed, we dispersed. Feel happy about the fact that most of us are still in touch, some frequent and some occasional interactions.

All of us studied science, chemistry major, except Kalpana. And almost all of us are in non-science professions! Some are in India, some flew abroad… life has taken us, or should I say we have taken our life in various directions.

Today, Chaitanya came home, for the first time in all these years. And guess what, he’s getting married! Am so happy for him. It was so nice of him to come over and personally give me his wedding card. In this busy life, small things like make such a difference. His is an arranged marriage and the fact that he has converted into a love one is so beautiful!

I remember how much fun he used to be in college. How we used to play ‘kaafiya’ on our way to classes. How much we enjoyed at Kanheri Caves, when Jigs walked backwards on our way back! Then Chaitu took up this computer course, and trust me that was one of the best decisions of his life considering that he got his dream job. And of course, he is now on his way to make his other dreams come true with Reshma, his dream girl.

Life has taken its turns, and we all are reaching places, realising our dreams. Sweet gestures make the journey so beautiful!

A day in the life of a Copywriter

You get up in the morning. In fact, late in the morning. Oops! You had to reach early today. A new headline has to be cracked (thankfully, at least the idea had been discussed and internally approved yesterday). The ad has to reach your ‘favourite’ client by noon. You hurry up.

It’s raining heavily. You don’t get the bus. The trains - they have to be late today! You think about the headline all the way. You eavesdrop (You never know from where you may get inspired!). “Know what, she told her that and the whole office now knows about it!” “My God! It’s so difficult to get in at Goregaon. And this Bandra ka public will always block the door!” Those funny mobile ring tones – your biggest enemies when you are trying to think. “Hello. I can’t the train…ya…at Dadar now (give me a break, it’s not yet Jogeshwari!) …call me after 10 mins”. No clues for your headline. These people in the train are useless. Don’t they have anything interesting (read: inspiring) to talk about! The time too seems to be running fast today!
Finally, the train approaches your destination. You manage to get out of that useless clutter. Optimism is the key. You will definitely crack it during your 5 minute walk to the agency. You observe everything keenly – hawkers, traffic, hoardings, shops, school kids, your umbrella (another useless thing to ‘protect’ you from the rains!) and roads. Splash! A heavy Toyota and a pothole filled with that rain water ‘tie-up’ to add colours to your white dress. The perfect way to start your day!

You finally reach office – all drenched and coloured! Time: 10 a.m. The visualiser welcomes you “Hey, give me the headline yaar. My layout is almost ready. And keep the copy short. I don’t have space for your bhaashan.” You ask for half and hour’s time. You start scribbling. Noise. Everyone has to be in this room at this moment. You try to concentrate. A cup of tea does the magic. You are ready with a headline and you are already in love with it. And the copy, as per the ‘instructions’ you have kept it really short. And then the ‘drama’ starts.

Scene 1:
You show the copy to the visualiser. Time: 11 a.m. “Headline makes sense. It gels with my visual.” You smell something fishy, and you smell right. The visualiser continues “Is this subhead necessary?” You stare at him / her. The message is taken. “Ok, ok, now don’t make that face. Look at the copy! It’s so short. I’ll just need two full pages. Now can you please reduce it! I need some white space. You are murdering my layout. Let the client do it.” And who’s murdering the copy? It’s just 5 lines. Your regular convincing business begins now. On your mark, get set, go.

“See, I need to say all this to support your visual. I have already edited it. Earlier there were 3 paragraphs. If I reduce it any further, this beautiful (???) visual will fall flat. If you still want me to…” The visualiser asks for the file path. Mission successful.

Scene 2:
Entry of the client servicing executive. You need special skills to convince this person. And you better be good at it. This ‘intelligent’ person in the agency may commit time to the client and then ask you how much time you would require (or would simply declare an impossible deadline!). Time: 12 p.m. “Is it done? The client was asking about it. I told him half an hour. What’s the status?” This time the copy-visual becomes a great team. “Can’t you understand it takes time? You gave that useless brief last night. How can you commit without consulting us? Minimum 1 hour. Inform your dear client.”

If the servicing guy is actually helpless (don’t forget, he is the only person who has to hear from all – creatives, seniors, media, accountant, office assistants and clients), he would make this typical bechaara face. “Please yaar. Try to understand. The media needs the material by 4.”

Time: 2 p.m. Finally the ad is mailed to the client. After incorporating all the inputs by the servicing and seniors. Not many changes. Just some ‘necessary’ alterations in the headline, copy, fonts and layout. Those necessary ingredients to help the client buy (read: help them sell) the ad. And those necessary ingredients to help the copy-visual team lose interest in it. But don’t lose hope. There are still some chunks in the ad contributed by the creative. You should be optimistic. The client would definitely love the ad. And might even go for multiple releases!

Scene 3:
Did you forget something? You take over all other regular / repeat ads, you had been postponing to proofread because of this new one. You must finish all these before the servicing comes with the changes given by the client.

Time: 3 p.m. You get a call from your boss. He is waiting for the new script. Yesterday, you had committed a deadline of 3 (that was the second time you postponed it). How could you forget it? You try your convincing skills. These don’t work much here! You manage to buy just an hour. “Sharp 4:00”. You recite the optimism mantra again. “Yes I can do it. This time the script will be great. He wouldn’t need to suggest a single change.” You refuse to accept any other ad and concentrate on the script. In one hour’s time the script is almost ready. You learn that the boss has gone out and won’t come before an hour. It’s one of your lucky days!

Scene 4:
Copying and writing! Meanwhile, the servicing comes with ‘some’ changes by his dear client. “Not many. Just the headline needs to be crisper. And these 5 points to be added. You just have to copy the matter as it is (that’s copy-writing!). And search for a different visual. He is not clear exactly which visual, but not this one.” You were right. It’s really one of your ‘lucky’ days! This time, even the media is standing on your head. Of course, he is having one of those ‘sweet’ exchange of words with the servicing guy “Tera hameshaa ka naatak hai. I don’t know. I spoke to the publication. The material should reach maximum by 5. Otherwise tell your client this ad won’t come. And they will be charged for cancellation.”

You pity the servicing guy. You try to help him by not quarrelling much with him today. Time: 5 p.m. Finally the ‘final final’ approval has come and everyone is seen rushing to send the material. Some more ‘sweet’ words between – you and servicing; servicing and media and seniors.

Scene 5:
Temporary change of your job profile. Time: 7 p.m. You have completed the script. And for the last 2 hours you have also been incorporating changes suggested in the other regular / repeat ads. You try out hand at being a client servicing exec. You try to convince one of those clients over the phone “See you can’t use an ‘is’ here. It’s plural. It has to be an ‘are’. It’s wrong and people will notice it.” The client buys it. It’s not that difficult to sell to these guys!

Scene 6:
What about the script? For a change, all your work is over by 7 today – 1 new ad, 4 adaptations, 3 regular ads and a new script. Boss didn’t come yet. You are all set to escape as your intercom rings. “Can we see the script now?” You agree. You are used to such flop shows of leaving office ‘early’. Optimism is your best friend for life and he is there with you. “At least, if he loves the script, the day will be great. I will get a goodnight sleep (a good late night sleep!).”

You go. Read out your script and wait for his reaction. “Good.” He suggests few reasonable changes. Well, you are happy. Something good at the end of the day. You take a break to fill your stomach with some junk. Time: 8:30 p.m. You are back to your seat and start making the changes. You can concentrate well this time. There are just 4 ‘hardworking’ people in the agency now and pin drop silence. You complete the script by 9:30 and are ready to escape. And this time you really do escape.

The end of the day? Perhaps not. Sometime during the drama, you had been given a new brief. The deadline is tomorrow (as usual). And this time you have not even brainstormed any idea. But there is certainly a storm in your brain. Tomorrow will be another day. Hope it will be better. Optimism is the key!

Past Ahead

Many connections of the past
Many disappear, few shall last

Memories too have durations
Forgotten that were treasured once

From, “Aren’t you the one who…”
To, “I think I have seen you…”

As they say life moves on
Much today tomorrow shall be gone

Hoping to find familiar faces

On the way ahead as life races