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Bringing the ‘Longhand’ back in ad copy – and how!

This unique initiative by a young Ogilvy Copywriter, Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, is aimed at reviving the dying craft of writing long copy ads. And it has been endorsed by the likes of Sir Martin Sorrell, Neil French and Indra Sinha

Ananya Saha | Delhi | March 26, 2012

Even advertising creativity has been affected by the fast and short pace of life today. So, when ‘short and crisp’ becomes the buzzword, and ‘a picture speaks a 1,000 words’ becomes the mantra, there are few takers of the ‘written word’. Small wonder then that ads with long copy have become rare these days.

But Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Creative Controller – Copy, Ogilvy & Mather, Gurgaon, is on a mission to challenge this. This 28-year-old has been running a community on Facebook called ‘Put Headline Here’ for the last four months. The page acts as an archive to celebrate long copy ads. Given the fact that the page has been liked by over 1,300 fans so far, the love of and for long copy is definitely not dead.

Generating much buzz in the industry and outside of it too, Dasgupta has now initiated a contest – Longhand. As the name suggests, the contest is all about writing, and being judged on, long copy ads. There are five briefs that have been listed. It is open to anyone who wishes to write. Dasgupta said, “Longhand is a celebration of the craft of writing long copy ad. It is imperative for writers to know the tool and use it when required,”

Here is the clincher. Dasgupta’s brainchild is being endorsed by the who’s who of the ad industry. Sir Martin Sorrell, who got wind of Dasgupta’s initiative, has endorsed it.

It will be judged by the legends of copywriting. Indra Sinha, who has the distinction of having been voted one of the top 10 British copywriters of all time; Neil French, former WPP Worldwide Creative Director and founder of World Press Awards; Swapan Seth of Equus Red Cell; Emmanuel Upputuru of Publicis India; Satbir Singh of Euro RSCG; Ashish Chakravarty of McCann; and Nima DT Namchu of Contract Advertising.

Interestingly, Neil French has written one of the briefs about Gambler Whiskey Satchet. The other four briefs are: Child Labour; Don’t Drink and Drive; 69 Condoms; and The Art Direction Book.

Even the judges are excited. Neil French and Swapan Seth have written long copy ads to promote the contest ( and

What happens once the long copy ad are shortlisted? “If shortlisted, the work will go up on the blog site ( and also on Ads of the World,” Dasgupta informed.

Indra Sinha has written a letter for the winner too (

Commented Swapan Seth, CEO, Equus Red Cell, “Longhand is a spirited initiative and I am glad that one could lend one’s shoulder to it. We need such creative uprisings to better certain skill sets.”

How bigger can it get now? Well, Dasgupta has the answer. He said, “This year it is just a national contest even though we are getting international entries from Singapore and the USA. But next year, it will be an international event with a lot more people involved in organising it.”

The contest began on March 10 and the deadline has been extended to April 15 from the earlier March 25, given the huge interest it is generating in the ad industry.

As the promotional launch ad of Longhand concludes: “And if you want your long copy ad to be read at last, there's only thing left to do really. Start writing.”

Longhand contest poster by Swapan Seth:

Longhand contest oster by Neil French:

Longhand contest poster by Indra Sinha:

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