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When Writing is More than Writing: The Idea Writers by Teressa lezzi (Review)

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Your invitation to a new way to persuade

As editor for Advertising Age’s Creativity, Ms. Iezzi has a daily, close-up view of the trends in the creative world and the people behind those trends. The surprise in the book comes with the affection Ms. Iezzi has for the discipline of copywriting and the practical nature for those seeking to grow in the discipline. It is readable, informative and filled with stories about advertising heroes and insights into current campaigns. I plan on using it as text in my next class on freelance writing.

Ms. Iezzi begins by framing the story of copywriting with a look at the ground-breaking work of legends like Bernbach, Ogilvy, Reeves and others back in the 1960s. Their work was fresh in relation to what was going on around them. Indeed that decades-old work formed the basis of many of our current communication trends. Ms. Iezzi uses the legends to reinforce the importance of storytelling, which these guys got right. Storytelling is the concept that best binds together The Idea Writers, as Ms. Iezzi issues a kind of challenge to today’s batch of copywriters to push into the new ways of communicating.

Two powerful notions emerge from The Idea Writers:

  1. Copywriting today is much more than only writing. Maybe writing was always more pure than writing. Today’s copywriters will sketch designs, draft scripts, work out the voices of a cartoon and a blog persona. They will pitch ideas because they are closest to the energy behind the idea and because organizations run much flatter. This book helps break through the silos that are already on their way down.
  2. Today’s copywriters help guide brand development following new methods of persuasion. In this new age, people buying stuff have unprecedented control of brand. Today’s copywriter recognizes the stories that honor the people doing the purchasing while smartly positioning the brand as a kind of conversation partner.

Ms. Iezzi’s book is the first copywriting book I’ve read that does justice to the emerging notion of the switch from corporate monologue to personal dialogue. The only lame part of the book came when she trotted out her personal list of tiresome cliché ad ideas. Her list of six included things we all instantly know, but to say those ideas will never work again seems like a challenge. The list also invalidates the notion that we beg, borrow and steal good ideas constantly—it’s just that those ideas are more or less recognizable in a different arena.

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  1. […] class has morphed from a focus on “copywriter” to “idea writer,” which is a book by Teressa Iezzi that I’ve become very attached to. We use The Idea Writers as a text to help grow our […]


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