Creativity doesn’t follow a textbook approach. There’s no curriculum which can help one write a campaign, a jingle or a copy.
The art of copywriting is as real as it can get. Even if the art cannot be taught, there are some processes that can help copywriters realise their full potential and create impactful copies and campaigns.
Speaking about what goes into becoming a copywriter, Prasoon Joshi, CEO of McCann World Group India and APAC Chairman, said, “It's a misnomer that you can instantly write anything. There is nothing called instant. The most important thing is the brewing of thought. What we don't see is how much time it takes to understand the craft. It's a continuation of a process.”
Bobby Pawar, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at Havas Group, said, “Copywriting is one of the hardest jobs in advertising. When people talk about copywriting, writing is the last thing that you do. It's thinking about what you do. You have a thought and you have an insight and then you try to express it in a manner that is going to grab attention.”
“You can spend a lifetime learning copywriting but still not know many things that are there,” he added.
According to Ajay Gahlaut, Group CCO, Dentsu Creative India, “Copywriters need to see things slightly different from other people. Their vision should startle audiences. It should grab audience attention and persuade them. To do so, one needs a little different worldview than most people. And that is rarer than people think it is. Not everyone can be a copywriter. It needs a certain God-given talent, to begin with. A good copywriter looks at things the consumers’ way. The consumer doesn’t care about any huge company. They care about what's in it for them. And that is the copy. The writer will be able to appeal to that and sell the product.”
Writing a copy that touches hearts is a tedious as well as an exciting job. Haque recalled a piece of work by ad veteran Piyush Pandey, ‘Har Ghar Kuch Kehta hai’ an iconic ad for Asian Paints. The simplicity and the insight in the human life made the ad have an impact on viewers, Haque said.
Although there is no stated formula to make an impactful copy, but a deeper understanding of human behaviour and what message the brand wants to communicate definitely helps. According to advertising maestro Agnello Dias, a well-written copy is like a legal argument.
“You’re trying to persuade and convince the reader to agree with your point of view. It may be a sentimental argument, an angry debate, a quiet dignified point, a satirical takedown and so many other permutations. But it almost always is an exercise in persuasion through the use of words,” he added.
Azazul Haque, Chief Creative Officer at Monks.Media, said that one has to be a great observer of things, human behaviour, places and the way people talk. One also has to be an avid reader and consume a lot of content and observe culture. One needs to have command over the language.”
Rayomand J Patell, CCO - Idealake, said, “Understanding human beings, being empathetic to every single human emotion, figuring where your brand fits and then using your words to build that bridge as a stimulus is what creates a compelling copy. Emotions are stronger than reason. If you tap into emotion, you can get people to do what you want them to do, think or feel.”
Similarly, Ramanuj Shastry, Co-Founder and Director at Infectious advertising, said, “You must be deeply interested in people to write impactful copy. Then you can write about what people care about. Otherwise, you are mostly spouting rubbish. One can become a successful copywriter the same way you become successful ‘anything’ - by being hard on yourself. Never bullshit yourself.”
A lot of copywriters or writers are generally not from a writing background. Pawar told BestMediaInfo.com that he was a computer engineering student before he pursued his passion for writing. Similarly, Patell was a B.com graduate from a college in Mumbai while he was already working in the industry.
Does studying copywriting really add to the talent? Haque, Gahlaut, Pawar and Shastry are of the opinion that it helps to understand people and be a student of life. Whereas, Joshi and Patell agree that studying copywriting really helps a writer to channel their craft well.
Shivil Gupta, Creative and Strategy Consultant, said, “By attending the so-called advertising courses, one can enhance their knowledge and get an idea of this business. But, that’s it. Your faculty can’t provide you with the notes which will give you the formula to think of an idea.”
But how can agencies help young professionals build capacity and expertise?
Manish Bhatt, Founder and CEO of M&C Saatchi, said, “There are a lot occasions where you can motivate the writers. Training and exposing the talents while giving them projects which enhance their skill set as well as challenges them to think from various perspectives. The talent should be encouraged and I suggest writers to read The Copy book by Mastercraft series by D&AD.”
While on the other hand, Patell said, “Agencies have to create a creative culture. As BBH said, creativity is not the responsibility of the creative department alone. A creative culture means everyone is focused on getting the best work out. If the account managers aren’t pushing the client to buy the better piece of work, if the CFO isn’t keeping money aside for entering award season, so on and so forth. That’s what separates winner agencies from the rest.”
“They can create a nurturing environment where a kid can present the best idea to the biggest client. I got a writer from the tech world a couple of years ago. 12 months later, she’d won three golds for a campaign I made her write. You have to put faith in the ones who are actually talented,” he added.