The great majority of people do not know what I, or the thousands of people who do what I do for a living, do for a living.
I’m a copywriter.
I’m a copywriter who has grown used to following that line of introduction with this explanation: In advertising, a copywriter is the one who typically generates the ideas for the ad campaign.
The client may know what they want to convey, but it’s up to the copywriter to say it in a way that fits the brand and attracts customers. It’s up to the copywriter and the art director to take the strategy and make it come to life.
Forgive Me, Father, for the Client Has Sinned
Digiday is running an anonymous “Confessions of a Copywriter” interview, where the pain of being misunderstood and devalued that many copywriters feel comes shining through.
Sometimes I’ll get a brief from the client and project management that is like, ‘They want it to say this but they thought it sounded boring so they want you to zhuzh it.’ I’m not a zhuzher. I’m a writer. The client doesn’t take photoshop files and change them. We don’t give them access to that. So why am I getting revisions from clients that say, ‘Just change it to say this.’ You’re messing with my work, and it’s not treated with the same sort of value as the art director’s [work].
Tampering with the copy is as common as daybreak, no question, and it’s annoying. But it’s not correct to call the work yours. Copywriters are paid performers. Whatever we create is the client’s to do with what they will.
The challenge is to successfully negotiate the copy through from concept to production. The copywriter caretakes the ideas and the execution of the ideas, along with her or his art director partner. But it is the client’s garden.
The Twitterverse Weighs In
I believe copy craft is getting disrespected, so I have sympathy.
But all of this *is* your job. Want to be a poet? Do it. but sometimes I just need a wordsmith.
“We’re just swapping some words, or we’re trying to make it fit within a character count. That’s not my job.” https://t.co/HOvEVe3Jox
— Sean M. Dineen (@TooMuchContent) August 23, 2019
Whoever this anonymous copywriter is, they took the words out of my mouth. https://t.co/jJj77J1vbR
— tinasaurus rex (@thegreekninja) August 21, 2019
This is happening because content roles in agencies need to evolve. Art directors can’t direct content pros. Agencies need more senior content pros. ‘I have to fight to do my job’: Confessions of a copywriter.https://t.co/o3Ijz5Uwlg
— Brian Carlson (@bcarlsonDM) August 21, 2019
I’d like to leave you with a suggestion. Let’s bury the term copywriter and just call ourselves writers.
Copy is a newsroom term from 100 years ago that was adopted by the ad industry. We can fix this.
I’m a writer.