Writers Shape The Brand Story; Ergo, Writers Are Fundamental

Thanks to rapid advances in communications technology and the cultural changes it continues to daily usher in, the media and marketing businesses are more complex than ever.

It’s the Age of Transparency, the Age of Measurement/ROI, the Age of Engagement and Relationships that Scale One-to-One, and so on. An ad man could lose himself in all the incessant chatter. Or an ad man could stay true to himself and his business.

Thankfully, Duff Stewart, CEO of GSD&M, is on the latter path.

He recently told The Statesman:

There are more channels to use and more media traffic to contend with, but the fundamentals of advertising remain the same. We have to discern what’s important or useful about the product or service and then package that idea in ways that motivate people. We’re storytellers. With all of the channels available to us, we can be a lot more targeted about what we do. We can engage more deeply and invite consumers into the brand as participants. But it’s still about explaining why this product is great and how it adds value to life.

Yes! Thank you to Duff Stewart for saying what needs to be said. All the tools in the world, are merely unfulfilled promises, until they are applied effectively. Take geo-location — it’s an amazing tool, but what can marketers do with it? How can brands “add value” via geo-location? I highly doubt that anything that looks, smells or feels like an “ad” will work on the phone. Which is fine, it simply means each medium comes with its own rules.

I am also grateful to Stewart for placing story and storytelling at the center of the discussion. I’m increasingly frustrated when I encounter a team that lacks a copywriter. Or there is a copywriter, but she’s brought in last minute to “supply some copy.” Stop the insanity!

delicious pizza

Writers think the material up before they write it. Thus, writers must have a seat at the free-pizza table from day one.



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.