Opinion: Barriers blur as ’writing’ and ’copy’ are redefined

Larry Barker’s pledge to kill off the copywriter and scrap the copy category in this year’s D&AD awards will provoke mixed feelings (Campaign, last week).

Larry Barker’s pledge to kill off the copywriter and scrap the copy

category in this year’s D&AD awards will provoke mixed feelings

(Campaign, last week).



Is the incoming D&AD president merely pandering to luvvie

pretentiousness by pretending copywriting is high art with the

introduction of a new category called advertising writing? Or is it an

acknowledgement that copywriters have become an endangered species at a

time when advertising has become obsessed by how it looks rather than

what it says?



Coming from an agency such as BMP DDB, which has a fine heritage of

well-written ads, Barker has to be taken seriously when he argues the

distinction between ’copy’, which conjures up images of vast amounts of

meaningless words, and ’writing’, which suggests thoughtfulness and

creativity.



In many ways, Barker’s initiative merely reflects what has long been

happening in agency creative departments, where the distinction between

writer and art director has become so blurred as to be

indistinguishable.



Indeed, the creative director of one of the UK’s leading shops believes

it would be possible for his department to function effectively if it

was comprised almost entirely of art directors working with a couple of

writers.



Yet there is still a need to proceed cautiously. That same creative

director admits he has to ensure that the work of his young teams are

not only on brief, but free of basic grammatical and punctuation

errors.



It’s arguable whether this matters at a time when much of the newspaper

and magazine advertising has become ’posters in press’.



The danger is that, by neglecting the basics, the industry opens the

door to laziness and technology is allowed to take over from words and

ideas.



Barker’s move will be welcome, though, if it sustains the value of

writers who may yet have the last laugh, as an exploding internet gives

words a whole new lease of life.



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