A Copywriter’s Ode to Words

16 Nov

I remember a few years back when I was looking for full-time work as a copywriter. I had a few friends who worked in the creative/marketing arena, whether agency work or a company geared towards digital media and web development. Nobody likes that person who nags about “Is your company hiring?” or “I would be great there. Can you put in a good word?” but get a couple drinks in me to forget my manners, and a little desperation for bettering my life, and I would be that person.

My friends are kind and they never got bothered. They always heard my blubbering with sincerity and responded in kind. The response I always got: “We don’t use copywriters.” There would be variations, including, “Our copywriters all do other things too” (translation: We get our web designer to write the words) or “We hire freelancers if we ever really need a copywriter” (translation: We get our web designer to write the words).

Some of us are so used to fragmented text messages, tweets where words are shortened or homonymized or acronymized so a fleeting sentiment can fit into 140 characters, receiving our news from the comments on our Facebook feeds rather than perusing a newspaper with ink-blackened fingertips, that this lack of copywriters goes unnoticed. Many don’t notice when a billboard uses “your” when it should be “you’re” or catch inconsistencies in capitalization or see the rampant hyphenation errors.

But some people do notice, and some of us are quite bothered. I will take a longer route if it means missing that billboard, and all the way, I’ll hear in my head, “We don’t use copywriters.”

With the advancement of technology, there are some amazing things that can now be done with code and design, and mere words have definitely taken the back burner to the flashier images and features.

The same goes for movies. We’ve come so far with DFX and CGI that anything is possible on screen. And with the stiff competition of Netflix and SmartTVs and the home theatre—heck, I’m happy to just be on my sofa with my 32-inch and a glass of wine and my pause button—the film industry goes way beyond above and way past beyond to create such visual spectacles that they “must be seen on the BIG SCREEN.”

But when you’re sitting at the local pub chatting with your pals and one of you says something that makes someone else think of a scene in a movie, he doesn’t dismount his barstool and physically act out a scene and he has no means to mimic a special effect. He quotes a line from a movie. Just in the last few days, I’ve heard my friends quote Zoolander, The Godfather, and Jaws of course.

People walk around singing and rapping lyrics, I myself impress by spouting a scene from The Three Stooges’ “Disorder in the Court,” and it is still evocative of admiration any time someone recites Shakespeare.

The images and the action grab our attention and sometimes even remain when we close our eyes, but quite often it’s the words that really cling to us. Beautiful permanent and portable words.

– Christina Irene


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