A day in the life of a Copywriter

(This was one of my posts published way back in 2005. I scribbled these lines when I had some 2 years of experience as a copywriter I suppose in 2002 / 2003.)

You wake up in the morning. In fact, late in the morning. Oops! You had to reach early today. A new headline has to be cracked (thankfully, at least the idea had been discussed and internally approved yesterday). The ad has to reach your ‘favourite’ client by noon. You hurry up.

It’s raining heavily. You don’t get the bus. The trains - they have to be late today! You think about the headline all the way. You eavesdrop (You never know from where you may get inspired!). “Know what, she told her that and the whole office now knows about it!” “My God! It’s so difficult to get in at Goregaon. And this Bandra ka public will always block the door!” Those funny mobile ring tones – your biggest enemies when you are trying to think. “Hello. I can’t listen...in the train…ya…at Dadar now (give me a break, it’s not yet Jogeshwari!) …call me after 10 mins”. No clues for your headline. These people in the train are useless. Don’t they have anything interesting (read: inspiring) to talk about! The time too seems to be running fast today!

Finally, the train approaches your destination. You manage to get out of that useless clutter. Optimism is the key. You will definitely crack it during your 5 minute walk to the agency. You observe everything keenly – hawkers, traffic, hoardings, shops, school kids, your umbrella (another useless thing to ‘protect’ you from the rains!) and roads. Splash! A heavy Toyota and a pothole filled with that rain water ‘tie-up’ to add colours to your white dress. The perfect way to start your day!

You finally reach office – all drenched and coloured! Time: 10 a.m. The visualiser welcomes you “Hey, give me the headline yaar. My layout is almost ready. And keep the copy short. I don’t have space for your bhaashan.” You ask for half and hour’s time. You start scribbling. Noise. Everyone has to be in this room at this moment. You try to concentrate. A cup of tea does the magic. You are ready with a headline and you are already in love with it. And the copy, as per the ‘instructions’ you have kept it really short. And then the ‘drama’ starts.

Scene 1:
You show the copy to the visualiser. Time: 11 a.m. “Headline makes sense. It gels with my visual.” You smell something fishy, and you smell right. The visualiser continues “Is this subhead necessary?” You stare at him / her. The message is taken. “Ok, ok, now don’t make that face. Look at the copy! It’s so short. I’ll just need two full pages. Now can you please reduce it! I need some white space. You are murdering my layout. Let the client do it.” And who’s murdering the copy? It’s just 5 lines. Your regular convincing business begins now. On your mark, get set, go.

“See, I need to say all this to support your visual. I have already edited it. Earlier there were 3 paragraphs. If I reduce it any further, this beautiful (???) visual will fall flat. If you still want me to…” The visualiser asks for the file path. Mission successful.

Scene 2:
Entry of the client servicing executive. You need special skills to convince this person. And you better be good at it. This ‘intelligent’ person in the agency may commit time to the client and then ask you how much time you would require (or would simply declare an impossible deadline!). Time: 12 p.m. “Is it done? The client was asking about it. I told him half an hour. What’s the status?” This time the copy-visual becomes a great team. “Can’t you understand it takes time? You gave that useless brief last night. How can you commit without consulting us? Minimum 1 hour. Inform your dear client.”

If the servicing guy is actually helpless (don’t forget, he is the only person who has to hear from all – creatives, seniors, media, accountant, office assistants and clients), he would make this typical bechaara face. “Please yaar. Try to understand. The media needs the material by 4.”

Time: 2 p.m. Finally the ad is mailed to the client. After incorporating all the inputs by the servicing and seniors. Not many changes. Just some ‘necessary’ alterations in the headline, copy, fonts and layout. Those necessary ingredients to help the client buy (read: help them sell) the ad. And those necessary ingredients to help the copy-visual team lose interest in it. But don’t lose hope. There are still some chunks in the ad contributed by the creative. You should be optimistic. Read more on my blog As I look at life.

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