Advertising: Art? Or Science?

installation by steven hawks

installation by steven hawks

“The trouble with us in America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.” (Louis Kronenberger)

It was a quote like this that, early in my career, reinforced my decision to become an advertising copywriter.  I was enamored with the idea of using words to not just sell a product. I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to take the reader on a journey. I wanted laughter. And tears. Or whatever emotion was ideal for the product/service and the target demographic. But most importantly, I wanted to compel them to want the product/service.

And all because my lil ole story would do just that. It intrigued ‘em. Created a desire. Moved them to get in their car, or pick up the phone, and purchase.

I think this storytelling is why I have enjoyed writing brochures for various brands. I love having multiple pages to weave creative imagery with hard facts. And all in a way that is enticing. (Well, at least I think it’s enticing. I’m sure there are plenty who would view it as landfill.)

But then, after writing one too many car brochures, I created an opportunity to migrate over to the Internet. Again, it was another way to lead a consumer through a story, only now it was a mouse click instead of a page turn that revealed the next morsel of content.

Sure, there are subtle differences between writing for a brochure and writing for the Web.  Longer copy isn’t as happy on a single Web page like it can be in a brochure. I think that’s because people don’t want to linger lest someone think they’re loitering.

But the biggest difference between writing on paper vs. in pixels, is Web writing is so much more….immediate. And I’m not just talking about throwing the content up.

I’m talking about the ability to not only upload instantly, but also get instant results.  It seems that, for a lot of the advertising biz that is taking place on the WWW, the pendulum is swinging away from “creative storytelling” and hurtling toward “metrix.” Now the emphasis seems to be more on numbers, ratings, click-throughs, etc.

Sure, I know there are a lot of really creative web pages and banners out there that are also pulling in big numbers, but they seem to be overshadowed by the “click here’s” or “explore now’s” or whatever CTA is currently tracking at the highest rate.

I guess after spending the better part of the last 12 months working on direct advertising in both print and the web, it’s been a nice change to go back to writing a brochure. Albeit, not an automotive one. It’s a much slower pace. And the focus is back on the words. Not just the numbers. Although, I’m hoping the creative storytelling I put into this particular brochure, pulls enough numbers to warrant hiring me again for the next one.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see which CTA works best to get the results I want most.

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Filed under my life in advertising

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