Do You Copy?

Why Advertising Sucks is running a piece on the various words we use to define ourselves in this business.

It seems that being a writer is just not good enough, let alone being just a copywriter. Heaven forbid. Nope. We are now Copy Strategists and Verbal Identity Specialists.
Just as a web programmer who does nothing needs to call himself a “Total Experience Director,” this latest industry evolution just goes to show that we constantly feel the need to justify our professional existence by coming up with these meaningless euphemisms – titles that do nothing but practically acknowledge how base and shallow our industry has become. The attempt to specialize a profession which is neither science nor art just makes us look foolish.

Personally, I think the term “copywriter” blows. It fails to communicate effectively to people outside the industry. “Oh, you place those little legal marks on things?” more than one confused person has asked.
I usually say, “I’m a writer who works in advertising,” when people ask me what I do. While this is not as punchy as “I’m a writer,” or “I’m a copywriter” it provides the definition people seek, although I’ve found that some have never before considered that there’s a person who writes every single commercial message they encounter.

About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Chief Storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • Sean

    Best response I’ve ever gotten:
    “People write advertising? I thought it was done by machines.”

  • Todd

    Sure fire conversation killer: “What do I do? I’m a copywriter.”
    Not sure verbal communications specialist, or copy strategist would be any better though. You could say you’re a speech writer for brands. I wonder how that would do.

  • HighJive

    i’ve always identified myself as a seller of whatever brand i’m currently working on. for example:
    i sell cheeseburgers.
    i sell laundry detergent.
    i sell shoes.
    then they’ll inevitably ask if i can get them a deal on cheeseburgers, laundry detergent or shoes.

  • David Burn

    High Jive,
    I like your approach to the problem.