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Archive for the ‘Brand Promise’ Category

John Cleese and Writing Funny

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The writing must bring the reader along.

John Cleese is nearly always funny. And he has a lot to say about writing funny. In the “John Cleese Interview” that follows, he says that Basil Fawlty (from Cleese’s Fawlty Towers) was never angry at the beginning of the show. The funny bit was showing how he got there and showing it in a way the viewer could relate to. He goes on to describe the difficulty he had finding a branch to give his auto a good thrashing.

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Via Adweek

Written by kirkistan

January 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

4 Ways to Bring Creativity to Work

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Hint: Creativity is not easily contained

I’ve been reworking priorities for the social media marketing and copywriting classes I start teach again in January. If these are like previous classes (I’ve not yet looked at the rosters), there will be quite a few English majors, juniors and seniors, many of which will be excellent writers. I teach the class in a sort of writing-forward way: we use writing as our primary tool for sorting client brand problems and opportunities. But over the last few years, the copywriting 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 understanding of our task.

My syllabus is mostly intact from last time I taught, but this time it I see four areas where additional emphases are needed. These four areas make it difficult for a student to jump from writing papers for an English professor to writing copy in the world of commerce:TellStudentsThis-3-20151216

  • See: this has to do with trying to get out of your own brain-pan and jumping into someone else’s life situation. Read more: How to Go Out of Your Mind
  • Try: social media, in particular, rewards those who jump in and try stuff—all sorts of stuff. Trying stuff is a way of learning what your audience will listen to, and will respond to, along with understanding the limits of their attention. Yes there are some best practices and some favored tools, but social media is in constant motion.
  • Measure: The goal really is to move the needle, that is, to get a response. Hits, page views—so many of these numbers are really only incidental to engagement. Real engagement looks like a comment or a share or some other solid action in the world. This is debatable, of course, and varies by audience and objective. But social media opens a window to see just what effect our words and ideas can have. Which can also be terribly discouraging for a writer with a message to deliver.
  • Passion: This is the surprise for students, that they can channel a passion about a topic or tool or process into a project for a client. Many think passion and inspiration are ingredients only safely stirred into their own poetry or short stories. It turns out the more you run on inspiration, the more you run with inspiration.
"Inspiration" by Richard Bledsoe

“Inspiration” by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe’s interpretation of “Inspiration” is completely right: there is often a point where the idea carries the writer forward, eyes bulging, wishing only to stop.

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Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

Image credit: “Inspiration” by Richard Bledsoe, used with permission

Can a Story Create Empathy?

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This Spec Ad for Johnnie Walker Does.

 

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Via Adfreak

Written by kirkistan

December 15, 2015 at 8:18 am

How to Go Out of Your Mind

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Hint: It’s a crazy idea that just might work

Can you ever see from someone else’s point of view?

“No,” some say. We are entirely bound by our own way of seeing. All the world lays before us—all the friends and enemies and acquaintances and mobs, the institutions, the physical world, all the influences, everything that is, was and ever will be (amen)—all of which we perceive from our own vantage point. We fill our brain pan using our eyes, our ears, our sense of touch, our taste buds, our sense of smell.

It’s always me looking out at you.

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There are manufactured instances, though. Huge numbers have already bought Star Wars: The Force Awakens tickets for the very experience of looking out at a favorite world through JJ Abram’s eyes, who happens to be channeling George Lucas’ story-brain. We reread Harry Potter or Tom Sawyer for the joy of seeing from someone else’s perspective.

Stories get us close to seeing from someone else’s eyes.

A primary challenge in teaching copywriting to English students is asking them to see from someone else’s perspective. It’s an invitation to awaken the force (as it were) of caring about someone else’s issues and feeling the weight they feel. And though we see and feel imperfectly, it is enough to begin to engage our imagination. And it is precisely the imagination-engaged that produces satisfying, potentially useful copy that has a chance of meeting some human need.

I want to think that as we age, we become better able to see from someone else’s perspective. But my experience says otherwise: it is all too easy to let my world close in to include only what impacts me directly.

Hard work, it is, to begin to see from someone else’s perspective.

And good work.

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Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

Olive Garden: Well. That’s a new tone for them.

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Via Adfreak

Written by kirkistan

July 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

WWSD: What Would Steve Do?

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Are we all reading too much into that turtleneck & wireframe costume?

It’s the glance into the camera that does it for me.

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Via Adfreak

Written by kirkistan

June 12, 2015 at 8:00 am

NOLA: Same words. Entirely different experiences.

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Your Interpretation May Vary

Maybe you’ve seen a version of these New Orleans tourism spots. What is remarkable is how the same voiceover is used in all, but each depicts an entirely different experience. Tim Nudd has some smart comments on the three at Adfreak.

I watch these and cannot help but think about how we interpret any text, And how each understanding of a text is different because of the intentions we bring to a text and the experience/baggage we also bring to our reading. That’s why we talk through how we read things—your interpretation gives a fuller perspective to mine. And, I hope, vice versa.

These three ads tell that interpretation story well.

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Via Adfreak

Written by kirkistan

May 14, 2015 at 8:48 am

Fie on You, Toilet-Writer

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Don’t Be This Writer

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At least try your recommendation before declaring so boldly.

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Written by kirkistan

April 2, 2015 at 9:19 am

Transhumanist Cautiously Optimistic over Apple Watch

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A Fiction

Fridley, Minnesota—Lenny “Zoltan” Krzmarphlek slowly removed his new Apple Watch from the packaging, making tiny, deliberate snips with his scissors. He placed the watch carefully on his wrist and locked in the strap.

“He’s been grinning like this for a day,” said Lenny’s wife, Sarah.

“Ah,” he said. “Yes. I can feel it. It has begun.”AppleWatch-03122015

“It” is the change Lenny “Zoltan” has been anticipating for some time—the push of technology toward better. That is, better… everything.

Lenny “Zoltan” holds lofty goals: living far more than the staid four score years, knowing more than the other clerks at Home Depot (among other things)—even knowing what customers want before they speak.

Lenny “Zoltan” has been collecting bits of technology to help him do just that. He was an early adopter of Google Glass (despite being an Apple devotee: “One must make occasional compromises for higher goals,” he said). Mr. Krzmarphlek is never without his smart phone and constant Bluetooth connections to a variety of communication and diagnostic appliances littered over (and, ahem, in) his clothing and body.

“Zoltan is one of the most connected people you will meet this week,” said Sarah. Indeed, his blood pressure is displayed on the watch (“slightly elevated,” Lenny says) as he takes a call from his physician.

“No—just got the watch,” he says into his Bluetooth headset (which he wears even as he sleeps at night). He looks through his Google Glass at his wife and nods.

“Apple stock went down 1.8 percent and my core temp is up to 98.8 degrees,” he whispers, eyes wide.

“Apple stock will go up again,” said Sarah. “Have no doubt.”

She grins.

Lenny grins.

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Written by kirkistan

March 12, 2015 at 9:35 am

Where Can I Buy a Fine-Art Mode?

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The Beauty of Knowing Nothing

I don’t have a fine-tuning mode that tinkers with physical detail. I draw and it is mostly crude. I cut plywood and pine shelves and they are rough enough to make my craftsman-father scoff into his hand. I make dinner and it is mostly broad-stroke stuff that requires very little finessing. I will confess my popcorn is a work of art, combining yellow and white kernels, salted and buttered and mixed to a sensuous, savory smack of flavor. And I am learning how words interact on a page—though it is slow going.

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How does someone get to the point of crafting from rough cuts to fine finished detail? It is possible that in this age of ordering clothes, pizza and romance from a button on our mobile devices, that some things still take time. Some things require beginning at the beginning. The question for each of us: do I have the courage to begin at the beginning? To know nothing for a time and do things badly?

The beauty about not having been taught drawing is that you are in a position of the acquirer: the process of figuring it out might take a while, and you will most likely continue to figure stuff out as you go, but that process is yours. There are no shortcuts and no tricks. Just the plain practice of drawing, screwing up, and drawing some more.

–France Belleville-Van Stone in Sketch! (NY: Watson-Guptill, 2014)

You cannot buy personal processes. Not really. You have to make them from scratch—those processes that help you make meaning in the world. And you have to begin at the beginning.

Mistake will be made.

You will make those mistakes.

And that’s OK.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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