Can you spot today’s blooper?

piubic.png

OUCH!  I wonder if anyone was fired over this one? It hurts me just to read it, especially knowing that Lyndon and Lady Bird would be livid over such a public error.

Can a bot write an award winning ad?

Screen Shot 2019-11-18 at 23.49.14.png

WARNING: This is a copywriter rant. If you’re a designer or visualist, you may prefer to check out my buddy Ian Anderson’s website.

If you think copywriting is the same as writing, you’re wrong. Copywriting is all about persuasion – it provides rational reasons for emotional decisions.

Writing per se is not about persuasion. The aim of non-copywriting writing can be about many other things, but it is not to pitch a sale. This is why copywriting actually takes a long time to master.

Want to see the difference between how a human crafts words and the feeble attempt of a clunky machine? Go Talk to Transformer to check out how a modern neural network will attempt to write a paragraph or two, based on a snippet of text you provide.

Simply type a phrase or short sentence, and a neural network will guess what comes next. I entered a gorgeous classic ad headline selling an even more gorgeous mid century chair, written by legendary copywriter Julian Koenig :

If your Harvey Probber chair wobbles, straighten your floor.

And this is how the the machine-based artificial intelligence completed the text.

Buy an expensive chair and have it custom fit for you. I think we’re all pretty comfortable with chairs, right? You’re comfortable in your chair. I’m comfortable sitting on my chair, right? So let’s go ahead and make one that’s just right for you. You’ve already got the $400, so let’s buy an extra $400. Then, when it starts to feel wrong, I’ll take it back and we can spend some more money on some more expensive chairs. The thing that bothers me about this whole process is that I want this chair to fit me perfectly. I want this chair to be as comfortable as my couch. It’s like I want it to be the best couch ever. But if it doesn’t fit the way I want, then it’s going to feel like a total waste. Spend more money on a chair, then

 

Clearly, this AI stuff has got some work ahead of it. All you copywriters can breathe. According to these AI results, you’re going to have a job for a while yet. So sharpen your thoughts and your pencils and keep pushing for great headlines and insightful copy. What you do for a living is very special.

 

Below is the Julian Koenig-George Lois ad for Harvey Probber furniture, in all its glory.

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 00.03.18.png

 

 

 

Blooper Bust: Do you see it?

Under the category of ‘I spy with my little eye’ – – –

progAM.png

Spotted at the CineSpace Film Festival at Rice University last night – a major typo on the cover of the printed program guide. Thousands of copies, distributed all over town – with a honking big spelling mistake. It’s enough to drive a copywriter cuckoo.

Lesson: Always proofread the words on your layout before the artwork goes to the printer. Always. #programnotprogam

A word from our sponsor

MAKE YOUR FAMILY CRY OVER THE HOLIDAYS

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 13.37.02.png

The holidays are almost here. If you’re looking for the very best Christmas present ever – we’ve got you covered. Because Space City Sprockets will help you deliver something very special to your nearest and dearest – happy memories. Your family will laugh, cry and love you. Relive the happy times of days gone by together, as you toast the future. If you have old family movies, slides or an album of photos, we’ll transfer them to usb drive so that you can enjoy them in hi resolution quality on your big screen TV or your computer. Contact us now at 281-312-0418 or if you prefer, simply go to https://www.spacecitysprockets.com for all the details. We’re experts and can answer all your questions. Call now to guarantee your tearjerker in time for the holidays.

(Photo is Copyright 1956-2019, Sutton family)

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 13.34.19.png

Is your mouth lonely for food?

kuchisabishiiScreen Shot 2019-11-15 at 10.43.50.png

Clever wordsmiths, the Japanese. I’ve just discovered they have encapsulated the notion  of  eating out of boredom into a single word – kuchisabishii. More literally translated as ‘mouth loneliness’ for a snack or just plain old more of anything, it seems like it would work well for the annual North American engorgement celebration called Thanksgiving. 

#toomuch #isneverenough #turkeducken #marshmallowsweetpotatoes #pumpkinpiepoptarts #whynot #どうもありがとうございます

 

 

 

Peek-a-boo. I see you

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 08.06.42.png

One of the things I work on as part of my self-branding efforts is this blog. There are all kinds of theories about why a blog is good for business. To that end, I set up blogs for many professional entities, and ghost write their entries, each entry custom-tailored to their brand.

WordPress is as good or bad a format as any other blog. They have a freebie version with ads, and a paying version with none. Ironic, considering my entire blog is also one extended ad. I use the free version, apologizing to you, dear reader, for the times WordPress deigns to place a charming varicose vein solution banner under one of my entries. Sorrrry!

My favorite feature is the daily statistics section.  I can see how many people read each entry and how long they stay on the page. It even geolocates each reader by country. For me, it’s strangely thrilling to know people are actually reading my words worldwide. It also give me something tangible to experiment with. Which stories resonate? Which headlines gain more traction?

Above is a screengrab of typical daily stats. Hello USA. Hello Australia. Hello lone wolf in New Zealand. Hello UK – I’m 90% sure this is Jane Evans, so hello Jane!

 

 

 

Why is #tbt a thing?

Screen Shot 2019-11-14 at 12.10.09.png

Someone who had been hiding in a cave for the last decade or so* recently asked me the meaning of #tbt. Of course, I said “Google it”. They did not know what Google was either and skulked back to their cave. So I thought I would google it myself, just for kicks. Google told me to go to Wiki. So of course, I did.

Here is what Wiki says – – Throwback Thursday is a popular internet trend used among social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Users will often post nostalgic pictures of their past accompanied by the hashtag #TBT or ThrowbackThursday. (Also #tbt) It is used by people all over the world to share and relive their past experiences with anyone they want. While a majority of posts reflect positive moments in someone’s past, the term throwback can be attributed to anything in the past.

But you already knew that.

I think nostalgia is massive for a reason. I think the world is operating so fast now, that sometimes our brains go “hey, just you wait a minute – you slow down for five minutes every Thursday or you are going to forget everything fun or interesting or noteworthy that brought you right here to this present minute. Why don’t you post a #tbt somewhere to remind yourself that there is a period of time in your life called ‘the past’ and it is worth remembering it? You know, to provide context – so you are reminded of the roads you took to get to the period of time called NOW.”

So I listened to my inner self. Here is a #tbt of some stuff I just found in a box. I like to think of #tbt as a little time capsule of special ephemera that was worth saving for that time in the future that #tbt would become a thing.

Contents: A hi res slide of one of my favorite ads which appeared in a newspaper (remember those?) and won heaps of awards, one of many business cards and a red plastic box from Spectra, a New York slide processing place that – I think – no longer exists.

 

*not true, just a useful intro

Wanna hear a punny joke?

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 18.58.23.png

Film director, Alfred Hitchcock, once observed that “puns are the highest forms of literature”, but I think he was just being cheeky. Nonetheless, the pun is always good for at least one giggle every now and then.

Example: Check out this play-on-words holiday sweater now available across the U.S. for the northern winter. What?? Too lowbrow for you? Hmmm, you may find the text groan-worthy, but I actually find it very punny.

(Okay, okay, I’ll quit while I’m behind – that’s it for lame rhetorical quips for today.)

If you want it you can find it @gearhuman – not a plug but you can send me this hoodie if you like 😉

 

What is a ‘zarf’?

Clever word find of the day: Writing copy for a client this week and needed to reference the cardboard sleeve thing you slip around your coffee cup to keep it from burning your hand. (It’s part of a campaign concept.) Turns out it’s called a ZARF. Now you can sound super-smarty-pants next time you go to Starbux. “Excuse me, I’ll be needing a zarf with that Extra Tall Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino® – – – ”

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 12.35.55.png

Comic Book vs. Bad Guys

Art is important. Comic books are important. Communication is important.

Google the word “Samizdat” (Russian: Самизда́т, lit. “self-publishing”) and you enter a secret subterranean world of creativity. A samizdat is a handmade book, often containing forbidden messages.

Like this handmade comic book constructed of cigarette papers, a flattened soup can and two nails. Lost for 70 years, a young American comic book artist/ soldier, Howard Weistling, originally cobbled together the contraband item in a prisoner of war camp during World War II, drawing an amusing panel every few days to entertain his fellow inmates and keep up morale. Liberated unexpectedly, the book was left behind, lost.

It was recently unearthed and returned to the artist’s family. Find out more about the unbelievable odyssey here.

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 08.07.59Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 08.08.15

(Story from NPR.)