Benton & Bowles, Inc.
Executive Vice-President, Director of Creative Services (in 1969)
<<An interview with Mr.Alvin Hampel(1)
chuukyuu Is there any knack to making a quick judgement on a copywriter's
Mr.Hampel I was asked that recently and I don't think there is any knack.
I think that most of all, more than the samples that a writer brings up to me, I think most of all, I judge the person on how he reacts and how he answers the questions and how he talks because I think I can get more from that than from the work that he has done. Of course, the work has to be good too.
You want to see good work on the sample reel and his print ads. And you hope the applicant is telling the truth.
I listen to references that I get about certain copywriters. What is their reputation, what is their background, what do people think of them?
I have some friends around the town that know enough to say, "I thinkthat's one of the best people," or "I think you shouldn't touch him; something's wrong."
chuukyuu What is your teaching methed of copywriting?
Mr.Hampel Well, I don't think you can teach copywriting like you do mathematics. I think you have to make people do the work over and over again until it is sharp. And you have to have somebody looking at it that is good enough to tell them what to do or to suggest ways for them to go and to discipline them enough and not to accept it until it is really very fine. You get a lot of writers who have become spoiled in the early stages of their career because too many of their supervisors, took the first thing that they handed them. I think that's a big mistake.
They then get false confidence that they're good. I think that you must wait, you must have patience and you must make them do it over... as well as you would like to have done it yourself which is a difficult thing to do but I think it's a discipline. The word that sums it up most is discipline, just being very demanding.
There are too many people who are afraid to be strong. They say things" well OK, this is OK and they don't mean it. In their heads they know that something's wrong, but they don't want to offend the person, you know.
They want to be nice and they don't want the other person to think badly of tnem. I think the pupil ultimately respects you more after he's done it well---even though you gave him a hard time in the beginning.
chuukyuu Do you believe people learn by experience?
Mr.Hampel Absolutely. In this business, I know no other way. I know there are classes and courses. Bill Casey, he is a friend of mine, has a, school called the Copy, Course, and Bill has a system of teaching copy and maybe he's giving them an introduction to the business and maybe, making them write and rewrite he's giving them a certain amount of experience even though it's not under realistic conditions. But he's. making them do it, and he's making them do it over and over, hopefully.
So, maybe that's a good way. That is the only way that I know.