Copywriting: a choose your own adventure story

Andrew Boulton is a copywriter with a decade of scribbling experience at places like Egg the online bank, some top agencies in the Midlands and once for a man who carved dolphins out of cheese.

He was nominated for the Professional Publishers Association Award for Business Media Columnist of the Year despite having little or no grasp of the semi colon. He has decent hair but a disappointing beard. You can follow him on Twitter @Boultini.

You are sat at your desk eating wafer thin ham straight from the packet. An account manager asks if you’re busy. Do you say…

A) Absolutely stacked. You’d better give it to Sean.

B) I’ve always got time for more work, how can I help?

You try to fob the work off on Sean, but Sean’s got in there first and sent them your way. So now, you’re stuck with it. The account manager gives you the client’s brief. It looks a little like several unrelated sheets of paper stapled together. There are nine different pie charts. One of them is actually about pies. Do you...

A) Throw it out of the window and say a hawk took it.

B) Begin diligently reviewing the material, recording any questions and observations.

The windows are all locked to stop copywriters from throwing away unclear briefs. You reluctantly begin to work. You stop working to go for a wee, a hazelnut latte (and then another wee because it was a pretty big latte). You get back to work. Do you…

A) Meticulously map out your target customer, the competitive space and any opportunities for a bold new message.

B) Steal an idea from the internet.

Your access to the internet has been restricted since ‘the incident’. You begin to write down your ideas. You begin to rub out your ideas. You write down an idea and, surprisingly, you realise its quite good. Do you…

A) Seek the expert opinions of your creative colleagues to pressure test your idea.

B) Begin to clear a space on your shelf for a really big award.

You take your amazing idea to a designer. All the good ones are ‘busy’. They give you Kim. Kim is usually only allowed to work on birthday cards. You explain your idea to Kim. You explain it again. Kim designs it. Kim tells you the line doesn’t fit. Do you…

A) Work closely with Kim to find an acceptable compromise.

B) Hide Kim’s strangled corpse in the stationery cupboard.

Kim survives and your idea finally makes it to the client. The first client says he thinks the word ‘innovators’ should be in the headline. The second client says we need to think about how this works on a ‘SoMoLo’ level. The third client produces a new brief that says the main objective is to go viral. You make the changes. The client’s boss shows it to his nephew who’s doing a BTEC in business studies. The nephew says he does not like the word ‘innovators’. Do you…

A) Use your authority and expertise to redirect your clients’ focus back to their customer need.

B) Apply for a job at an Arctic research base as polar bear lookout.

Something that used to look like your copy goes to press. The agency social media intern (aged 6) asks if you can write a case study on how you came up with the idea. Do you feel…

A) Professionally satisfied that you have helped your client achieve something that meets their needs.

B) Dirty. So dirty.

You see Sean in the corridor. In a tuxedo. Carrying a really big award. He asks you how the project went. He also gets your name slightly, but deliberately, wrong. You return to your desk. The packet of ham is still open. Warm, but probably not lethal. Do you…

A) Eat ham and cry.

B) Just eat ham.

The End.

Follow Andrew on Twitter

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