Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's all in the name

What would YOU call one of these?

'Caravan'. Cunty.

Nooooooooooo, the model. To differentiate it from bigger/smaller models. Like they do with cars.

'Cos I've been driving about on the motorways of the good ol' U of K recently and no matter what time of year it is, you invariably see plenty of caravans. Why someone would choose to sit in a confined space without adequate toilet facilities miles from civilisation on a cold, wet day is perhaps a question for another time.

But, sit in them they do.

And what they sit in has a name.

Yes, caravan.

Quiet, fool.

Anyway, here's a few I spotted on my travels the other weekend.








A couple of them stand out for being quite obviously inappropriate. Which, for my money are...



Let's take "Marauder' first. My Boy's Book of Big Words tells me a 'marauder' is someone who spends a good portion of his time plundering, pillaging and generally scaring normal people shitless. Like this bloke for instance...

Hard to imagine him using a chemical toilet or sitting in his caravan doing a jigsaw while it pisses with rain outside.

Next up, is 'Swift'. Now, is this an image of 'swiftness'?

Hmmm, no.

But someone must have thought it was a good name. Why?


Thursday, March 22, 2007

A really important call

I heard this 'conversation' on the train into work.


GIRL (EARLY 20s): Hello?... Oh, hiya... uh... uh... yeah... uh... uh-uh... uh... right... uh... yeah?... No, not really... uh... uh... right... right... right... yeah... see ya.

Girl puts mobile back in her bag and goes back to staring out of the window.

It got me pondering on the difference between dialogue written for a script, be it for a commercial/film/drama/comedy etc. where each word has to drive plot, sketch character or reveal motivation, and the banal reality of everyday conversations.

And dialogue that is praised for 'being realistic' is actually nothing of the sort, it's far more interesting because, obviously, it has to be. Otherwise, bye-bye viewer.

And yet there's something I really like about these everyday conversations that tail off into abstracted nothingness.

Here's another example, this time two old ladies in a supermarket looking for some 'tongue'. No, that's not a new sexual service that Tesco has recently introduced, it's a cooked meat similar to ham.

WOMAN 1: Where's the tongue?

WOMAN 2: It should be here somewhere. It usually is.

WOMAN 1: They always have tongue.

WOMAN 2: Yes... it's usually here.

WOMAN 1: They had it last time.

WOMAN 2: Yes... this is where it is.

WOMAN 1: Yes... it's always here isn't it.

WOMAN 2: Always.

WOMAN 1: Where is it?


Aw, bless.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And now... 'The client doesn't get it'

I'm trying.

Really, really trying hard. Not to rant.

Because, let's face it, a blog is the perfect vehicle for the disillusioned to sound off on all manner of bollocks and so it's mighty tempting.

But there are countless ranters out there in the 'blogosphere' who are much better at it than me.


However, I'm weakening. You see, apparently the client doesn't 'get it'.

Get what fella?

Oh, just the concept we presented to them a couple of weeks ago. That they loved and told m'colleague and I to get the party started on production, source a photgrapher, write the copy.

You get the picture.

Except they didn't. Or, no longer did. Or forgot they had.

Even though we'd written, in English words, a brief description of what they were seeing underneath the visual, they still managed to miss the point. And consequently have come up with various 'suggestions' as to how the concept can now be 'improved'.

All of which destroy it.

It makes me wonder if it might not be a bad idea to pay THIS LUNATIC a visit.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can the client see the copy?

I get this a lot.

The request often comes BEFORE the concept has even been approved by the client, ie. when it's still a black and white scamp.

Which naturally, I laugh off as a slip of the tongue and don't get cross about at all.


Yes, well.

"See the copy"?

Alright, how much? Being as I've no idea what needs covering off, I mean, you know, what do I put in?

I could make stuff up. Please, please, let me make stuff up.

Alas no.

So I'm given some hastily patched together 'brief' and I scribble down the first vaguely relevant words that enter my brain. Because that's how account handlers see the process - it's just 'blurb'.

This 'blurb' is then sent to the client. Who loves it and approves it with alacrity. And thus it becomes set in stone.

And when the finished work appears, which because it's crap is nationwide, I shed a small tear.

It's back to the poetry thing.

Time please. Time to refine. To lift something above the level of the commonplace. Just for a moment.

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's poetry mate, honest

I've been giving this one some thought and have come to the conclusion that the act of writing copy definitely bears at least some resemblance to writing poetry. Now, maybe that's crediting my occupation with a level of literary respectability it may not deserve but...

You WHAT sunshine? Did I hear you correctly?

You reckon those childlike utterances you occasionally make on behalf of some overpriced 'product' are the equal of some of the finest literary minds the world has ever seen?

Eh? Do you?

You reckon semi-literate tosh like this...

"The muffled thunder of its engine is impressively addictive, as is the 237 bhp it delivers which leaves you gasping in admiration..."

... equates with this...

"...But if he stood and watched the frigid wind
Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed
Telling himself that this was home, and grinned,
And shivered, without shaking off the dread

That how we live measures our own nature,
And at his age having no more to show
Than one hired box should make him pretty sure
He warranted no better, I don't know."

You think yours is better do you? Outside in the car park now!

Can I just make a couple of points before things become physically violent?

Be quick.

Well, firstly, the author of that stuff about the car wasn't me, I read it in a magazine.

You sure?

Quite sure.

Go on, point two.

Yes, er, and point two is that I was in no way suggesting that the end result of a copywriter's labours is the equal of great poetry. It's just that the PRINCIPLES ARE THE SAME. Namely, that it's all about distillation. Paring sentences, cutting words, forever reducing so that what remains has a power that comes from a concentration of the language. Copy, good copy that is, has to put over its message in as succinct yet memorable a way as possible without falling prey to cliches or lazy verbiage. And unless you're a genius, it's impossible to do in a first draft.

Likewise poetry.

And if poetry works, readers see something with new eyes. If copy works, consumers get their wallets out.

Anyway, I'm rambling now.

Here's part of The Guardian newspaper's site where they run a weekly Haiku competition. The rules are... well they're explained on the site. But basically a Haiku is a syllabic poem of three lines in 5,7,5 syllable order. Preferably topical.


The 'point' being that it's a really neat way of polishing words.

Yes, it's a UK newspaper but global subjects are welcomed.

Oh, and there's a prize for the weekly winner. Not from me, from the newspaper.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Don't think this really needs a headline, so it's not getting one

This delightful message is on a park bench near my house.

The bench had several prominent pieces of graffiti scrawled over it to which the author of this missive clearly objected.

Presumably they thought that words written on white stickers don't count as graffiti. Hence, "GRAFFITI WANKER".

At least it's spelled correctly.

Full marks sir.

Or madam.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sum up a country in three words

M'colleague and I work in a department that has a sizeable feminine presence. This is unusual since despite female emancipation, universal suffrage, the abolition of the so-called 'glass ceiling', blah, blah...most creative departments are still bastions of MANLINESS.

One side-effect of our oestrogen-rich environment is the proliferation of chocolate.

At any time of the day.

And God help anyone who goes on holiday and DOESN'T bring back some sort of chocolate-based comestible.

So when one of the girls went to Thailand recently, she brought back a box of Thai chocs. On which was this neat summary of Thailand itself. It can't have been referring to the chocolates since they were all the same. And of a very low quality.

So, if Thailand equals "Diversity and Refinement", which, since I've never been there, I'll have to take on trust, what about other countries?

Ok, in the style of the great Roy Walker of 'Catchphrase' fame... three words, here we go.

Oh, and the middle word must be 'and'.

And try to be nice.

Stoicism and rain. (Marks knocked off for mentioning the weather.)

Panache and cheese. (Or, wine)

Overweight and loud. (Hm, that's not nice. Better try again, they may invade.)
Industrious and competitive. (More flattering, I think. Hopefully enough to stave off an all-out assault.)

Rocky and cold. (Or is it hot?)

It isn't very easy this.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Nooooooo, it's 'queue'.



Easy really.

Just add an extra U-E.

No more, no less.

Or... did they mean 'Cue'?

Like it was some sort of outdoor, urban pool tournament?

Oi, fuckface! Lighten up a touch, hey? It's a simple spelling mistake. A couple of letters for chrissakes! Maybe English isn't that person's first language. And anyway, it isn't as if we're all la-di-dah university-educated types like you is it? Hmm? You go and work in the Rainforest Cafe for a few weeks on two quid an hour and no tips and then see how your spelling looks. Smartarse.

Please, just don't hit my face. Not the face.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What would YOU do?

You own a long stretch of railings that habitually get covered in posters, signs and what not, much to the detriment of the local area.

And it's making you cross. Your neighbours aren't best pleased either.

They tell you to act. NOW!

But there's this problem: how to inform people that their signs aren't welcome.

Without... er,... sticking up a... sign. On the railings.

So you grit your teeth and hope your sign deters all the other posters from putting up theirs.

Fingers crossed it'll win something at the UK Irony Awards too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm confused

In an office, somewhere in Britain (I'm guessing), someone put pen to paper and authorised the production of this ad.

But I've no idea why.

It was then paid for and placed in a national newspaper magazine.

What were all these people on?

And, can I have some please?