Smoke and mirrors


I have no idea what to write about. Which, for someone making their living as a copywriter, probably isn’t a good thing. Back in the day when I was still an account director, I remember rolling my eyes at creatives who whined about how you can’t summon creativity at will. How creatives aren’t slot machines you can just feed a coin to and expect Cannes gold to come out the other end. Oh, how I rolled my eyes indeed. And look at me now. I’m faced with less than an hour to come up with something worth reading and I’ve got nothing.

But isn’t that part of the job, if not its very essence? To captivate an audience, even when you really don’t have a lot to say? And I’m not just talking about the end product of our industry here, but about the process as well. Take the kitchen review for example. Arguably a legitimate touch point with the client to assess whether you’re headed in the right direction, but more often than not a cunning diversion from the fact that after two weeks of concepting, all you’ve got is some doodles and an award-winning idea for a TV commercial when all the client has asked for, is a wobbler.

We are paid to make people believe they want things they didn’t even know existed five minutes before. It’s just a matter of getting their attention and then dazzling them with big words and flashy keynotes until they start buying what we’re selling. What’s that you say? A plastic watch that looks like it was designed by Woody from Toy Story, that does exactly what my iPhone can do and it’s only € 349? Please, tell me more.

The good thing is that people are suckers for marketing. I once bought a Nike Fuelband, simply because the store clerk told me they were the only shop in the world selling them. He couldn’t have made a more compelling argument had he told me it came with a complementary Batmobile. Nevermind the Fuelband is as useless as a DVD rewinder, because sometimes all it takes is a little distraction from the fact that what’s on offer, isn’t offering very much to begin with. And if you don’t agree, then consider the fact that at the beginning of this column I told you I was going to write about nothing at all, and yet you’ve read it through all the way to the end.

* Written for Amsterdam Ad Blog


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