Two Copywriters Who Blog Right Up In This Thing

Benjamin Palmer, CEO of The Barbarian Group, wants to hire people like Danny G and me.

We review people’s portfolios here quite often and one thing that stands out is how few advertising copywriters actually blog. It’s really amazing. An entire copywriting Web site might consist of 500 words. What’s needed now are copywriters who not just write entire Web sites, but actively blog.
For creatives, maybe look for someone who has made a popular YouTube hit on his or her own, or who shares his or her photos on Flickr. Hire based on someone’s genuine personal motivation to be part of the current social fabric.

Now, if Barbarian would just open Atlanta and Portland offices, things would surely fall into place.
[via Adweek]

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. no comment yet from the barbarian group? Tsk Tsk! Haven’t they heard of google news alerts? Must be slipping.

  2. @veeddub, it’s only been a few minutes
    p.s. thanks for the awesome plateware!

  3. Hey, I’m not married to Atlanta. And I’m not married, period. I’m game for a new adventure.
    It would sure beat the “friendly” folks I talked to recently who were obsessed with big brand print portfolios.

  4. @david,
    just kidding. couldn’t resist.
    glad you enjoy the plate.

  5. @veedub – hey, The Escape Pod can find some ideas and the people who generate them up in this thing too ;->

  6. I’m a copywriter and I blog.

  7. A copywriter who blogs? That would be stupid.

  8. @david. oh i know.
    i’m not giving you free plates for nothing 😉

  9. The problem with copywriters who blog is they all just want to direct 😉

  10. the barbarian guy didn’t mention that interactive copywriters get paid only slightly more than bloggers.

  11. When would I blog? I’m too busy writing for people who pay me. And what I do write for myself I then send out for publication. Why would I give that away?
    Everyone I know who is a successful blogger does so as a hobby/release/passion that is separate from their day-to-day lives, or because they are required to professionally. Blogging after a day of copywriting seems a little redundant to me, and would just add to the clutter already out there.
    Look at my work and judge my work because it’s my work. My hobbies are my hobbies, and they’re not going to take place behind a keyboard. Sure, my experience as a DJ occasionally does prove useful, but that’s icing on the cake, not a reason to hire me.

  12. Sorry guys but Benjamin is looking to hire copywriters that blog and have great work in their portfolios. You’ll have to stay in Atlanta for now.

  13. Here you go, Frank. It pays to refresh!

  14. “Sorry guys but Benjamin is looking to hire copywriters that blog and have great work in their portfolios.”
    Frank likely fails in both categories.

  15. Vox Rational says:

    Um. Why would I wan to work at the barbarian group?
    The only idea they’ve ever had (that I’m aware of) was to put CNN headlines on t-shirts. Everything else was concepted elsewhere.
    And as everyone here knows, “put the shit on a t-shirt” is just item number 34 on the Fifty Ways to Make Our Campaign Integrated every creative uses when we need to flesh out the presentation boards.
    Show me a creative who’d rather make a website than made a print ad or TV spot, and I’ll show you a liar.

  16. Vox Rational,
    You’re revealing your biases, and potentially your age.
    You insist, “Show me a creative who’d rather make a website than made a print ad or TV spot, and I’ll show you a liar.”
    You’re spending too much time in traditional ad agencies. A lot of people would prefer to work in interactive, for reasons including digital offers greater future potential than traditional advertising. It’s no different than designers who would prefer to work on logos and package designs versus print ads or TV spots. Digital continues to be so misunderstood because even the people dedicated to it are making things up as they go along—the area continues to evolve. Additionally, like traditional advertising, digital has a variety of “levels” of shops. That is, you’ll find great creative digital shops and lousy ones pumping out emails and interruptive banners. No different than what you’ll find on the traditional advertising side.
    I’d offer another declaration to match yours: Show me a traditional advertising creative who thinks he/she could thrive in a digital shop, and I’ll show you a delusional hack lying to themselves.

  17. Should have read: Show me a traditional advertising creative who thinks he/she could thrive in a digital shop, and I’ll show you a delusional hack lying to himself/herself.

  18. I appreciate you picking up this argument, Conan.
    For me, it’s all about where the best brand stories can be told. It’s easy to see that online is often a better format for content. Yes, the 30-second spot and print campaign have important places in the mix, but personally, I prefer to be part of a team dreaming up, and then executing, serial web shows that deliver against the brand promise, whatever that might be.

  19. Vox Unpopuli says:

    “I’d offer another declaration to match yours: Show me a traditional advertising creative who thinks he/she could thrive in a digital shop, and I’ll show you a delusional hack lying to themselves.”
    Why is it that all the hacks who can’t make it in traditional advertising agencies always wind up at a “digital” agency?
    And what is a “digital” agency, then? It’s a bunch of hack ex-trad creatives who work at an overhyped production house. Make something. Prove me wrong.
    I’ll agree with this: what makes an agency suck is when the creative is made after the media is bought. Places that don’t let the idea dictate placement. By design, that’s what a “digital agency” is.
    That’s why we’ve never, or will we ever, see a good spot/print ad/big idea come out of RGA/AKQA/Barbarian Group, etc, but the big boys on the traditional side crap out a great website with just about every campaign that comes down the pike.
    T-Shirts? * fart *
    Any time we’re mandated to work on internet shit, the first thought ALWAYS is…how do we shoot something for this.
    For the record: I’m 32. I don’t have a screenplay. Or a novel.

  20. Vox,
    Currently working at a digital shop (not Barbarian), and few of the creatives have traditional ad agency backgrounds.
    For the art directors especially, you need familiarity with things like Flash, Fireworks, etc., which few traditional advertising creatives ever have to worry about. The writers need different skills too.
    I always try not to make value judgments about digital versus traditional, believe it or not. They are different disciplines—like comparing the NFL versus the NBA. Yes, there are the occasional stars who’ve played in both arenas, but they are far and few between.
    I think a lot of traditional hacks wind up at digital shops because digital shops are desperate for talent, and will take a risk on nearly anyone. People with direct marketing experience also have transferable skills at certain digital shops. But just because a traditional hack moves to a digital shop does not mean they become digital whizzes—they probably become digital hacks.
    The major issues facing digital shops involve the way the discipline is being positioned with clients. In many ways, it’s closer to direct marketing versus traditional advertising, in the sense that everything is project-based and people are literally producing stuff in-house. At traditional advertising agencies, there is a much greater respect for the creative execution, in my opinion. That is, you come up with an idea, but outsource the execution to (hopefully) A-level vendors (directors, illustrators, photographers, music houses, etc.) who evolve the idea. In most digital situations, the art director and copywriter literally execute the piece themselves (or with in-house studio-type help). This is driven by budgets and schedules—and clients have come to expect it to be fast and cheap (at least cheaper than traditional advertising). For every Subservient Chicken or BMW online films project, you’ll do 10,000 banners hawking 20% off band saws at Home Depot. In short, it’s a different world.
    You probably never will see a great print ad, TV spot, big idea come from a digital shop. Because they don’t get those assignments, for starters. Plus, I’d argue they are playing a different game with different types of players. Technically, you’ll get big ideas from a digital perspective—but I wonder if you’d recognize them, as you are judging everything through a traditional advertising lens.
    Didn’t mean to sound dismissive or judgmental towards you. But we really are talking apples and oranges.

  21. Conad you’ll never be a Barbarian,
    “Digital offers greater future potential than traditional advertising.”
    Then you say:
    “You probably never will see a great print ad, TV spot, big idea come from a digital shop.”
    Without the big idea, which from your rhetoric is obviously beyond you, digital will never have greater potential then traditional. It will also never have the same pay scale.
    It’s really simple. They play off one another.
    It’s sad to see that no one here has a sense of humor. What a bunch of wankers.

  22. @Toby – Society for Internet Hygiene has a sense. As for the wankerishness of it all, it’s like painting in oil or watercolor. If you can paint, you can paint.

  23. Toby,
    I tried to clarify my statements, but probably failed. Meant to say you won’t see a great print ad, TV spot or big idea from digital shops because they don’t get those assignments. And in reference to big ideas, I was referring to what I think Vox defines as a big idea: i.e., something that leads to TV, print, promotions and oh yeah, digital too. Sorry, but the notion of integrated marketing is evolving. The best idea for TV has rarely worked for print too—and it definitely doesn’t necessarily work for digital. Every project and assignment, regardless of the discipline, should have a big idea. Things don’t have to play off each other. That’s an outdated marketing myth, usually pushed by traditional advertising people who seek to control the brand image. The public is no longer expecting all communications to be integrated in lock-step fashion. They use different media for different purposes, and expect different results and experiences.
    When I wrote digital offers greater future potential than traditional advertising, I meant a couple of things. First, traditional advertising agencies—and the jobs they offer—are vanishing. There are more employment opportunities in digital (although they admittedly don’t pay as well as advertising). Second, traditional advertising is not evolving. It’s still print, TV and radio. Digital has a lot more options, in a space (Internet) that continues to evolve and present revolutionary opportunities. Sure, there are ad agencies seeking to integrate digital into the offered services. But the problem here is that these people view digital as purely a media option. It’s more than that.
    And what’s with the condemnation of everyone here lacking a sense of humor? You’re about the most sour prick on the thread.

  24. Vox Unpopuli says:

    Conan TB,
    Your thoughtfulness calls for a level of discourse preempting farts and punchlines.
    Even if some of the buzz surrounding Digital Shops has surpassed fartworthy years ago.
    Calling digital-only branding and traditional branding apples and oranges is nonsense. Good branding, as defined by the shows (which, let’s face it, is our Good-Work yardstick for better and worse) is sponsored communication people LIKE, is Original, and is executed with a high level of craft.
    This is as possible online as it is onTV as it is onRadio as it is onAPieceOfPaper.
    And human enjoyment, originality and craft remains the domain of the traditional agency.
    Where you’ve hit the nail on the head is when you say Direct Response Agencies are doomed. A Digital Shop is Direct Response with instant results. A DS’s creative can be tweaked on the fly, tested and refined in real-time, and because of that, is creating a revolution in compensation.
    But that has nothing to do with BRANDING. Nothing at all. The argument Digital Shops are trying to make is the EXACT SAME argument Direct Response Agencies tried to make some 60 years ago. Back then, they dangled the (semi-)illusion of statistical certainty to entice budgets away from traditional branding agencies. Now, they got the Internet and statistical semi-certainty.
    But smart CMO’s see through it.
    Branding isn’t about to die. And neither is the traditional agency. But my problem with the whole “digital revolution” is the DS’s can churn out crap faster than you can say “Dancing Couple Next To An Interest Rate,” and are making it harder for traditional shops to convince clients Good Branding Takes TIME.
    Time to THINK. Time to RETOUCH. Time to SHOOT. Time to WRITE. Time to do NOTHING. It’s all required.
    That TIME, not incidentally, is a big part of what makes our jobs a little bit magic. A little bit mysterious. A little bit fun.
    My guess is, eventually, clients will recognize the DS’s inability to create good branding. And the DS’s will split, eventually becoming either a Digital Direct Reponse Agency or a Production House.
    (Sidenote: Guys at production houses get way more pussy. Guys at DRA’s make way more cash. Choose wisely.)
    Then, clients will split cash between Digital Direct Response and traditional branding agencies, instead of those two AND traditional DM.
    In the meantime, I get three days to concept and write a f#cking TV spot.

  25. Toby,
    I continue to do a bad job of clarifying my points. My bad. I never said there’s a difference between digital branding and traditional advertising branding. I meant there’s a difference between how traditional advertising agencies and digital agencies operate. If you’ve ever worked in a digital shop, you would understand. Your comments indicate you’ve never worked in a digital shop.
    I also never said digital shops have done a good job of positioning themselves and their offerings. In fact, I think the major mistake they’ve made is to adopt a direct marketing-like stance. If they had established themselves like traditional ad agencies, they’d be receiving significantly more money, time and respect from clients and industry peers.
    You also need to understand that much of what digital shops produce is not about branding—or branding is not the primary goal at least. Much of it is promotional. Other stuff is even instructional or informational. It’s not about selling the brand like traditional advertising. In most websites—particularly websites where visitors are purchasing stuff—user experience and functionality are as critical as the branding. Even more so, at times. Digital is relying on traditional advertising (or digital advertising) to do the heavy lifting in the branding area.
    Stop trying to categorize digital as only being advertising or branding. It includes advertising and branding, plus much more.
    I completely agree that digital is fucking everyone by delivering so quickly. But the process has been established, and it will not be easy to turn things back. You’re right that good branding takes time. So does good digital. The reason you’re not seeing more good digital is because they’re not taking the time. Again, digital has adopted a direct marketing business model.
    I also never said traditional branding is going to die. However, it is going to get squeezed as direct marketing and digital continue to deliver cheap results quickly. Clients are impatient assholes. They want to see sales spikes every quarter. You and I both know traditional advertising cannot deliver that alone.
    You get three days to concept and write a TV spot? What a luxury. I get three days to fully produce digital ads. I’ve actually produced shit in three hours over the past few months. Sorry, but I’m totally familiar with traditional advertising agencies. You guys aren’t equipped to move like we do. And you shouldn’t have to. But the closer our disciplines continue to “collaborate,” the more obvious your slowness becomes.
    Which is why I think for both our sakes, we must stop comparing ourselves to each other. It’s apples and oranges, and should remain as such.

  26. oops. the last comment was directed toward Vox, not toby.