If someone ever tried to give me an award for copywriting, do you know what I’d do? I’d grab the cheeky rascals by the lapels of their Aubin & Wills tweed blazer, shake them like a Polaroid picture and bellow ‘KEEP YOUR SHINY BAUBLE YOU FIEND! I DO THIS FOR THE LOVE OF WORDS. I JUST LOVE THOSE WORDS SO DAMN MUCH!’
Clearly I wouldn’t do that. I’d gushingly accept it. And I’d probably do a tiny dance. I just want to win an award. Please give me an award. At least let me hold one for a bit.
What has prompted this outburst is a comment a Drum reader left on my last blog, in which he suggested that most copywriters are only bothered about winning awards.
As a copywriter whose only award is the ‘Stuart Pearce Penalty Shoot Out Cup’ in 1988 (four sublime penalties and one incredibly wild one that struck a small boy full in the face) I can say for certain that I most certainly do not write in order to win prizes.
Pathetic dweeb that I am, I actually get genuine pleasure from a beautifully constructed piece of copy. I also feel truly devastated when said piece of superb copy is bashed into something ugly and miserable by ‘others’. Alas, the tragic existence of the copywriter.
But despite the bare and dusty state of my own trophy cabinet, I do suspect that the chap who commented on my article may have a point.
There are so many awards on offer in all fields of creative marketing that perhaps, somewhere along the line, the end goal has become to write something that will bag a prize, rather than write something that will influence the reader to do what you want them to.
Admittedly, the two outcomes aren’t mutually exclusive, but we have all come across examples of copywriting where the message has been obscured by wording that is distinctly too pleased with itself.
However, I don’t think we should overlook the positive impact awards for excellent copywriting can have on the overall standard of our work.
While it is concerning if the offer of an award is the only motivation for a piece of copy, if it is rather an acknowledgement of an expertly crafted and successful piece of writing, then that can only be a good thing.
As long as the bodies handing out the awards ensure they are recognising ads that ‘do the job’ as well as ones that just ‘read pretty’ then the craft of copywriting will be the winner, even if downtrodden urchins like myself are not.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 24 year old plastic trophy to polish.
Andrew Boulton is a non-award winning copywriter at the Together Agency.
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