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

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. High Jive,
    I like your approach to the problem.