Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Internet Killed the Copywriting Star

Those of you who are old enough to have breathlessly turned on the television for the first ever broadcast of MTV will no doubt remember the first video they played - the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." But not until after repeating that MTV was IN STEREO about 40,000 times while being generally hairy and disheveled. It was more glamorous in my memory than this:

But the first video could not have been more perfect.

And they were right - it did kill the radio star. Or, alternatively, it gave birth to both the video star and the talk radio star. And the Ipod, Iphone and everything else after it. Then, MTV killed itself like a Dalek by not being MTV anymore and we all wandered off and did something else.

But we are again in an era between two things that work right now. A broken, crack of a space with terrible.... copywriting.

The internet, apparently, leaves us no time for pesky details like grammar and spelling. And I'm not throwing stones, because I compose my posts live too - we all do - and it's easy to hit send/save/publish with an error. It's a modern plague, really.

But it represents an opportunity for a HERD of really excellent copywriters to fan out to news organizations and advertising agencies and make the world better while getting rich.

I'll give you two examples that just kill me every time I hear them - these are radio ads I hear about twenty times a day.

"If you don't replace your XYZ, then you're really going to be kicking yourself in the head."

Now I'm sure Jean Claude VanDamme can kick himself in the head, but I don't believe most people can. It's like they didn't read that one out loud to themselves at all before they sent it to the voice actor.

And then this from a Mercedes Dealership: "We do things one way, or we don't do them at all."

Okay... well that was a lot of words to say absolutely nothing.

I am a big fan of reading computer-composed text out loud. I do it for my blog posts and it really helps me avoid super egregious errors, but it also ensures that my words really reflect the way I actually speak, which is always how I want to come across.

Well, not always. I would never put in print what I say in my car to other drivers, for example. But I can promise you it's heartfelt :).

For today's card, I borrowed a technique from +Jennifer McGuire to whip up a clean and simple holiday scene.

I just masked off the triangle with low-tack tape and then sponged pink and orange ink through our Dots & Stripes Decorative mask and stamped the greeting from Cheerful Christmas on top. I love how clean and modern it looks. I deliberately made it darker on the left to add some dimension. I also did the sponging on watercolor paper - I like the way the ink works with that surface - I seem to always make a mess when I do this on white - the watercolor paper's tooth keeps me in check.

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Of course every time I see this greeting I hear Buddy the Elf saying "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

Of course, Buddy the Elf has never heard me sing, so there's that.

The internet killed the copywriting star. So what comes next?

I can guaran-darn-tee you it AIN'T autocorrect.



  1. Thanks for the fun technique, one I may use, probably will.. oh definitely will use it, maybe for Valentines Day ... without the Christmas Cheer though. :)

  2. Bad website copy is why I have work - once the companies realize how poor their sites are, they call to have someone "fix it" and make it so they sound like adults and not like a bunch of 20-something Valley girls who can't write their way out of a paper bag.

  3. love this post.... and the card! Nummy! I might have to make a few of those. I bet my upline has the stamps you used for the greeting. We shall see. And I am glad your posts sound like you do when speaking - I wouldn't have it any other way.

  4. Love the masked tree! The sponging works for me on Neenah White, just not some coated white papers like SU's Whisper White. But I do like the look of it on water color paper, too.

    Reading on the Interwebz makes me mostly #stabby. People just don't care enough to ... care. The last one I read on FB (well, it's FB, after all) was this: "I need someone who can tudor my daughter". But news agencies and publications have NO excuse, and I'm not beyond calling them out on Twitter for their errors. Imagine that.

  5. Fabulous card! Love the colors.

  6. Lydia - yours is one of the few blogs I read all the way to the end. Love your message (and the trip back in time). I find myself screaming at the TV newscasters whose grammar is often horrible. I let our local community college know that their ad "where are you at with your education?" needs a second look. Your cards, however, are spot on beautiful and so clever. Thanks for sharing your many talents. Thank you for sharing.

  7. What a beautiful card! And I loved your rant about modern day writing. It's all very true. Now, I'm not an English major and writer (that's my hubbies gig) but I do try to at least include punctuation in my written responses and correspondences.


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