Do You Love Making Print Ads? This Contest Is For You

“Print is dead” is one more bullshit line that people with digits dancing in their heads like to spout.

To advance the cause of print advertising, USA TODAY is conducting a new print ad competition. The winner gets one million dollars in free advertising pages (for their client) in the national newspaper.

Apparently, the contest was suggested by author and former Adweek editor, Michael Wolff. Wolff believes the job of Copywriter “hardly exists” today.

If you are the person who actually has to write an ad—rather than conceptualize, or produce, or program, or pitch, or research — your career in advertising is not going very well.

Tick off the reasons: Advertising is all visual now; the real money is in making boffo videos; consumers don’t read; in the post-consolidation agency business, the bureaucrats have taken over from the creatives; in a big data world, you need to target, not convince.

Wolff is a provocative figure who prefers to produce provocative copy. It has helped his career go pretty well. And while I agree with his premise here — that the ad world needs more and better writers — I don’t buy that copywriters are not doing well, or that we’re being phased out.

First, copywriters do more than write copy. They think shit up, day in and day out. Shit that’s on strategy, emotional, memorable and perfectly stated. That’s why writers in advertising get paid relatively well. With no ideas to take to the client, it’s all bells and whistles, and million dollar contracts don’t last long without big ideas, seamlessly executed.

In my estimate, the need to convince and convert has never been more important. With a world of options at prospects’ iPhone-enabled fingertips, companies have to work overtime to clearly convey a point of view, and to provide meaning in and around their brands.

Establishing brand preference and brand loyalty has never been harder to do; hence, the need for people gifted at turning creative briefs into gold has never been more evident, or pressing.



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.