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Advice and help for would be copywriters

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Things Called Creative Groups Are Set Up...

In larger agencies, things called creative groups are set up, meaning that a writer or two joins a visualizer or art director or two on a permanent basis to work on a parcel of accounts. Sometimes that means only one or two accounts; and it's that kind of happy situation where online advertising of the superlative standard of Guinness, ICI and the like is born.

Smaller agencies cannot afford such luxuries and everyone - including the tea-boy works on everything. At the head of the department is the creative director. He will come from either the writing or the drawing disciplines; and simply because of that he may be treated as a non-belligerent.

Most of the time a creative director will fight the creative team's corner with some tenacity but, understandably, this will make him unpopular elsewhere. Hence the fairly rapid turnover of the ilk throughout the business. Just beneath the creative director you may be fortunate in having a copy chief. Here's a bloke who can, if you pay attention and be ever so obsequious, teach you the complete works and put you on the train to fame.

As a loose rule, copy chiefs are of an older breed; and the reason for this is that they are probably too bolshie to be made creative directors and too good to be designated ordinary copywriters. Thus; the management gets the benefits of their ability without the aggravation they would cause if elevated. Advertising agencies are often accused of thinking that they have some kind of a lien on conscience; and of hawking their so-called integrity around the place with bared and beaten breasts showing through the sackcloth. This happens when an agency professes an inclination to 'turn out decent work' and when it moans (as most of them do) that it is frustrated in these intentions by the stupidity, cupidity or rank inefficiency of the client it works for.

'Why,' runs the counter argument to this, 'do agencies, particularly the self-styled creative people in them, have to run off at the mouth so much about their principles, their standards and their souls? Why can't they, like any other business, simply supply what the customer wants and be glad to take the money?' At first sight, a reasonable argument - but it happens to be wholly fallacious. The fallacy is that most businesses don't supply what the individual customer wants, irrespective of its quality. A manufacturer of top-class hammers doesn't deliberately produce a batch of substandard tools to suit one wholesaler. A maker of digital recorders would very properly decline to knock out a quota of them which, in his opinion, wouldn't have a hope of doing an adequate job.

A whisky distiller would rather leap into the nearest loch than bottle a drop of the stuff in which he couldn't take a reasonable pride. Sadly, in this respect, an online advertising agency is out on a very rickety limb. It has no convenient, anonymous label under which to hide work that doesn't come up to par.

It has to admit to every ad it produces. If an ad is bad, the agency hasn't a leg to stand on. It is bad because of creative incompetence, or executive weakness. There's no other excuse.

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