president of Papert Koenig Lois Inc.
The Advertising Writers Club
November 9, 1961
A product is what customers put their money down for.
If you can show it to advantage, do it. As we did in this Wolfschmidt ad.
But if the ad is best without the product, don't show it.
As we did in this Wolfschmidt ad.
I have the most emphatic respect for rich men.
We go on the premise that the client knows more about his products than we do.
We also go on the premise that we know more about, advertising than the client does.
Out of that relationship comes mutual regard and reward.
The most important job of a copywriter or anyone else connected with advertising is to listen to the client.
If you listen long enough, and intelligently enough, you'll learn something.
You'll hear your ads spoken to you.
One of the best ads I've ever read was done for Utica Club Beer.
The headline was: "Sometimes I wonder if itpays to make beer this way."
The headline was spoken by the client; the copywriterlistened long enoughand heard his ad.
People ask us if we insist that the client run the ads we submit.
Of course not.
There isn't an agency that does.
Oh, you might be brave with small accounts but virtue can be severely tested when the account grows large.
This is the position you work on. he client doesn't have to run the ad we propose.
But he can't make us run an ad we don't believe in.
It's not a matter of second best; there is more than one solution to an advertising problem.
There is nothing more foolish than ego in client relationships.
After all, an advertisement that doesn't run isn't worth much to anyone.
SEVEN. Bad Advertising.
Almost invariably the fault or responsibility for bad advertising is not the client's but the agency's.
It is the agency
that has to prepare the ad. Perhaps you can't make the client run the ad :t:0u do like, but how can he make you run the ad you don't like?
Or am I being naive ?
EIGHT. How to be a good copywriter.
Get yourself a great art director.
There are more amateurs in advertising per square foot of office space than probably any other profession in the world.
After all, what other profession can you get into without any professional training whatsoever?
In this business everyone's opinion is equally valid, including the client's wife.
It seems to me that before a copywriter is in a position to break the rules, he has to know the rules.
Some rules however, should not be broken.
Like the rules of grammar.
Years ago I saw a cartoon in THE NEW YORKER in which a copy chief looked at a piece of copy and said to the copywriter:
"Surely, Smithers, you can write worse than this."
We get a lot of job applications and I see a lot of copy books.
The amount of poor writing, fake posey and effulgent nonsense is appalling.
Why use exclamation points as a substitute for strong English?
In fact who gave us the right to misuse the language.
Why don't we write good English like a copywriter should?
TEN. Account men.
Or is it no account men?
I'll tell you a strange thing about them.
I've seen a lot of good ones come to our agency eager to work and to work for less money, merely to be in a shop where they can spread their wings--- or their horns.
And I've also seen copywriter after copywriter, supposedly devoted to the creative aspects of his art and bored to death in the place where he works, who won't come to us without exploring every monetary benefit and without making sure he'll make more money right from the start.
If you go to work eight hours a day at anything, you might as well enjoy what you're doing.
Why should the account man be more deeply concerned about this than the copywriter?
I don't know.
There are good men in every area of advertising and the attempt to categorize them is impossible.
Ofcourse, weak account men can make a copywriter's life miserable.
But weak account men are usually a reflection of agency policy.
I worked for years in agencies without ever getting a good adthrough.
In fact, the only reason I was able to get a job at Doyle Dane Bernbach was not on the basis of the proofs I'd done but because of arough that was never run. A copywriter has to learn to sell his own material, through the account man and all the way to the client, if possible.
By and large, if you do your best, and it is good, a good account man will support you.
But if you are good and are surrounded by nitwits, and you can't get your work through, why then come and see us.