Breakfast Clubbing

The first meeting of the After School Club for Copywriters was this morning. Well, I say “Club”; Quinns and I had a lovely time.

Quintin Smith is Paradox Interactive’s new Creative Marketing Commissar, and his role is as undefined as the Data Griot used to be. He works for a bunch of talented people who he really likes, and now spends every day smashing together his skills as a journalist and storyteller into new shapes to tell people about Paradox games.

For now the plan is to start small and just chat about what we’re up to, professionally and creatively. My hope is that we can start finding people more experienced than us to chat to together, partly for critique and partly for tips, but mostly for their stories.

The first book from the reading list that Russell sent my way is all about stories. From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbour is Jerry Della Femina’s account of the ad industry in the late 60’s.

It’s rattles along, superbly, and communicates well some of the ‘shock of the new breed’ that changed the ad industry. On the Volkswagen ‘Lemon’ campaign (p. 27);

“For the first time in history an advertiser said that he was capable, on rare occasions, of turning out an inferior product. An advertiser was saying that all wasn’t sweetness in life, that everything wasn’t fantastic in the world of business, and people took to it immediately. Volkswagen became a successful campaign, and an overwhelmingly successful product… It was the first time the advertiser talked to the consumer as though he was a grownup instead of a baby.”

Which, of course, should feel pretty natural now. But it isn’t. I’ve encountered restrictions in language use at work that map neatly to the instinct of others to ‘Never apologise, never explain’. The trick to learn really is how far to push against that instinct, rather than to bow to it.

Meanwhile I’m retraining another instinct of my own. My first run through of Pocket Scale for James highlighted a need to bring it a little closer to me, to tell a far more personal story. I’d been tempted to hold the content a little at arms length, and he rightfully pointed out that was a mistake. It’s going to be a much stronger piece for it.

Lesson One: Share what you’re doing
Lesson Two: Honest stories have a bigger impact

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