Copy On The Ropes

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interest them, and sometimes it’s an ad.” -Howard Gossage
Axmith McIntyre Wicht copywriter and creative director, Brian Howlett, penned a piece for the July issue of Communication Arts that argues copy is dead.

The war, you see, is long past lost. The alphabet is stone cold—copywriting is dead. People don’t read. Not your art director. Not your account director. Not your brother. Not even your client.
Sure, today’s print ads may still have body copy. But unless you’re working in Singapore or maybe Mumbai, it’s simply something that fills up that unsightly gap between the headline and the logo, often not even presented until after the campaign is approved and shot.

I see Howlett’s point but I’m not ready to shovel dirt on copy’s grave. Far from it. Do I recognize that advertising is a visual medium? Of course. I’m just not willing to concede the importance of copy. Brands still have to tell a story and picturebooks don’t always do the trick.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.