Sunday, September 20, 2020

Thank you, RBG

If you don't know her, who she was, what she did, look it up.  

If you do, if you know her story, you know the debt all of us - female and male - owe her.

This is not about politics.  Not about belief systems.  This is about respect and love of humanity.  

We have lost one of the best of us.  

Thank you, RBG

Monday, April 6, 2020

In which Doreen swears This is NOT about COVID-19.

It's about what comes next.

I've already heard from several uber talented, enviously awarded, resumed and mostly still employed friends and former students about what comes next.  

Employed or not, they recognize the current world situation is not going to go away soon.  
That when it does, it will not longer be "business as usual."

What does comes next?

Up to you. 

For whatever reasons, economic change - and agency flux - cycle again and again.

When I first started working, recessions and changes in creative and business models were regional.  Revealed themselves and grew into new geography at inchworm pace.

A slow down in New York moved top talent to LA, Chicago, Minneapolis, Texas.  Places unaffected by social and business changes beginning to take hold in other major - and soon to be - markets.  

The last regional ad crisis I remember was the oil bust of the early 1980s, when Western ad folk - and the business - moved back North, East and Southwest like contrite homing pigeons.

When the crazies headed Northwest, to San Francisco, Silicon Valley, the Pacific hinderlands.  Unheard of places where new industries and new thinking spurred new music singing new style advertising.

It wasn't until the 90s the entire economy stood still.  Adlandia shed talent like hairs off a dog, from the bottom up.  Leaving only old think high earners running in circles, chasing tails for new old business without looking outside its traditional model to see what the market really wanted,

All hail the rise of the web shop.  Building sites, growing leaps and bounds - without a clue what its new power - and appeal - really meant.  Opening shops willy nilly, no clients, no plans - only the certainty they were It.  What's Next.  Flying high until until until

Everyone realized no one knew What's Next.

Chastized, they devoured - were devoured by - all the lost ad talent, marrying tech to strategy, marketing and communications who figured how to use it.  Developing the hybrid monster we are all - advertising, tech, corporate and mongrel hydra - now worrying we may lose not to competition,

But to what must be a true New Ad World Order.  One that hopefully doesn't forget all in commerce today is human.  

And humans are a very frail thing.

My question to you?

Not What is this New World Order.

My question to you.

Why wait.

Why take your severance (if you were so lucky) and semi-security (if you are so high up), offering the same old thing to the same old people?

Why aren't you What's Next?

Why aren't you writing thinking concepting those Open Objective Kamikaze Creative Work Plans and instead of offering the same old services, with the same old systems of renumeration, offering clients - corporations, agencies, holding companies, sole proprietorships and individuals soon to be all five - partnerships of opportunity they really need. 

Like What? you ask. 

Not my job, I answer.

My job has always been to get you off your believe in what's been done before.
My job has always been to get you thinking like you've never thought before.  

My job is to remind you I've given you the mad method and insights to solve creative problems unlike any you've solved before.  In ways you've not conceived before.

You can wait it out, holding on to your paychecks until until until.  You can call for contacts, references, post your new freelance availability and comb anemic job boards.

Or you can take a look - using the x-ray vision you developed after you left my flock - at all the things you know about companies and business and communication and motivation.

Then even more importantly, train those x-ray eyes on those who really run the world - The Prospect. 

See it all through your eyes.  Not the eyes whatever agency, whatever CEO, whatever CCO, ECD you last labored under.  Maybe even worshiped.

Take what they gave you. 
Add it to what has always been yours.
Look at the client companies.  
Look at their untapped overshilled desensitized prospects. 

Find that hitherto unseen longing, need, taste only you can see.  Smell.  Feel in your bones.

Gore Vidal once said "The unfed mind devours itself."

Feed your mind all the creativity knowledge intelligence insight and humanity The Universe gave you.

Be the Revolution.  Build What's Next.

Friday, February 28, 2020

In which Doreen asks, "Is Copy Strategy the same as Creative Strategy?"

The short answer, "Yes."
The long answer, "No."

While I've written a great deal on Kamikaze Creative Strategy(TM), some on Design Strategy, I'm not sure I've given Copy Strategy much text.  Like many good thoughts, this omission came to me in the Jacuzzi - and while I can't remember the post that wrote itself in the bubbles, I dried off thinking this was something I needed to address.

What is Copy Strategy?  How does it differ from Kamikaze Creative Strategy(TM)? If great copy is an intimate conversation between two people who know, like and respect each other, do you need a Copy Strategy at all?


Kamikaze Creative Strategy's (TM) goal is, via the Kamikaze Key Fact(TM), to insinuate the client's product/service/importance/point of view/whatever into the Prospect's mind conceptually.  (In an Open Objective KCS, it also serves to reach the Prospect in a way that cannot be ignored.[1]) 

Copy Strategy, from style/voice to message/content, reinforces that conceptual connection while disseminating information in a way that makes the case for whatever argument fulfills the Kamikaze Creative Objective.(2)

There are four (4) basic components to Copy Strategy, all stemming from the original Kamikaze Creative Work Plan(TM).

1.  Concept.  Driven by the Kamikaze Key Fact(TM), the concept ties into something within the Prospect's emotional and factual reality.(3)  This relies - as does everything we do - on Prospect Centricity(TM) (4).  On a Prospect Definition (5) that gives you the insights to totally grok the Prospect on an intimate, personal level, regardless how big or small, diverse or homogeneous your Prospect Group. 

2. Language of Concept.(6)  LOC is a two-pronged stylistic decision.  Your Language of Concept is a writing style that falls out of the concept. At the same time - driven by the Prospect Definition and KKF - LOC speaks directly to the Prospect in language the Prospect will relate to.  Digesting your content with both emotional and intellectual appreciation/understanding.

My Style(7) classes and posts, while more technically driven, are always careful to start with that final point in mind.  If your LOC doesn't connect with the Prospect both emotionally and intellectually, it won't get read.  Personally, I've used ad poetry, romantic, archaic, slang, musical/lyrical, in your face, spiritually uplifting and Danger! Will Robinson! - among other - styles to do this.  Whatever the Prospect and Concept called for.

LOC is not a personal choice.  As in all good commercial writing/strategic thinking, it is Prospect driven. 

3.  Content.  Not something I've addressed directly, Content takes form in the Kamikaze Creative Work Plan(TM)/Kamikaze Creative Strategy(TM) as the Promise and Reasons Why.  Competitive Comparison also weighs in, especially perceived differences.

These three strategic considerations tell you what to say.  Properly executed, they also give you the weight and order each informational component carries.  Translating them into your LOC separates the bull from the truly motivational.  

Not easy, it takes real wordsmithing to translate financial, technical and meaningful Features and Benefits(7) into cartoon (Popeye, Super Heroes, etc.), poetic, wry (google Famous Quotes of Gore Vidal), demanding, whatever, verbiage.  

I am often asked for good examples of how to organize the informational aspects of Copy Strategy.  Advertising examples, alas, of truly great content expression/manipulation are few and far between.  Instead, I always point to the great essayists and editorial writers.

While I may disagree (sometimes near violently) with their points of view, few can match Bill (William F.) Buckley (deceased), George Wills, Leonard Pitt, Harry Golden (also deceased), Mark Twain (eternal) and even Dave Barry for making whatever their case may be in a few hundred words.  

Of course, few Prospects can be tricked (yes, great ad writing does involve strategic trickery) into reading the same amount of words essayists and editorialists are allowed.  Even in web writing and blogging, where you have more "physical" space to play with, your lines must read short and paragraphs not appear as big blockish things that visually discourage reading.

4.  Editing. (9)  In all great writing, The Joy is in the Edit.  Judicious and brutal editing saves the over-written and superfluous. Let it all out in the first flush of creative expression.  Then attack with KCWP in hand, slicing (and saving for later, perhaps) those perfect bon mots that are perfectly unnecessary.

This doesn't mean leaving a first and last paragraph of creatively executed Language of Concept surrounding a laundry list of features/benefits written in plain language.  Features and Benefits, especially, must be woven into the copy with style and often, wit. Never abandoning your LOC.

I once tortured a very talented student with an editing challenge I now offer you.  He had written a perfect stylistic piece on a hot car - Mustang, I think.  After he perfected the 150+ word piece, I challenged him to edit out 20%.  The easiest cut.

I then challenged him with an additional 50% cut.  Then another 25%.  When it seemed he had cut the piece to the bone, I demanded another 10-20% cut.

The result?  His copy was not only a highly readable length, by sticking to his Language of Concept, the copy was a hundred times better - and 100 times more motivational - than it was when he started.

Great ad writers can rewrite War and Peace in a single page. Leaving nothing essential missing.  Leaving the reader thinking, boy that was SO much better than the original!

Language of Concept.

All you need for a smart, creative and as importantly, digestible/motivational execution of a smart, conceptually sound and emotionally/intellectually compelling Copy Strategy and execution.

(1)  Open Objective - hit the Index, you won't be sorry.
(2)  Creative Objective - there's plenty in past posts.
(3)  Kamikaze Key Fact(TM) - the wings of your conceptual thinking. Hit the Index, it's discussed in down to earth fashion.
(4)  Prospect Centricity(TM) is the basis for everything we do.  Two recent posts, inspired by fellow advocate David Baldwin, will get you started.
(5)  Prospect Definition - do you have all you need to fully grok your Prospect?  Previous posts tell you how.
(6)  Language of Concept - been there, talked about that too.
(7)  Style - go for the Index, it's something I love.
(8)  Features & Benefits - if you don't know or only have a cursory idea, I've dissected these plenty.
(9)  Editing - older posts will help, but only age and experience deaden the pain.

Friday, February 7, 2020

In which David Baldwin reminds us to be responsible in how we do our jobs

Ironically, David posted the following Atlantic article on facebook today: 

Once again, reminding us of the incredible power - and burden - doing what we do gives us.

Once again, reminding us expertise and ethics must go hand in hand

Or we are all lost.

I urge everyone to read the entire Atlantic article.

I urge everyone to stay the honest course, resist the shimmering urge of The Dark Side.

Ther is a reason Advertising Professionals rank below Used Car Salespeople (but above Politicians) in public trust surveys.

Do not be one of them.

Lest you be unable to look your grandchildren in the eyes when they breathe through their gas masks.

Lest you molder in a world of stagnant ignorant sameness.

Lest you kill the Gods of Creativity.

Lest you leave your great-grandchildren no Freedom of Speech.

Because you abused yours.

Thank you, David, for scaring the shit out of me. The article resonates, even from my garden in Cuenca, Ecuador, surrounded by the Andes, in my City of Dreams.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

In which Doreen makes sense of How to Sell Your Stuff

If you've sat in on my classes, worked with or for one of my former students, you know my mantra is Prospect Centricity.

What's Prospect Centricity?  Simply stated (more info in my archives), in all things Creative, the Prospect Rules.  We work for the Prospect, build creative strategies based upon the Prospect's experience, self-image and point of view.  Concept from the Prospect's mind's eye.  Design to attract. Write to touch their gut, heart and soul. 

We are nothing if not the vehicle who connects our Prospect's life experiences, motivation triggers and desires to our client's products (have you read Sway, by Branfman and Branfman yet?).

Why should it be any different when it comes to selling our work?

Nick Cade (google him - you'll be impressed) tells me too often, the best written strategy beats out the best strategy.  What does that tell you?  Some writers know how to organize, present and write their thoughts in a way that motivates the decision makers above them.  Even if they don't have squat.

If all life is a negotiation (and it is - do we see the movie I want to see?  Or the one you want to see?  Where do we eat?  How much do I pay for the car? Can I spend the night?) - the way to get what you want is to present your desires clothed as someone else's.  In thoughts, words and deeds meant to hit someone else in a way they cannot decline.

If it works, it's because you totally grok whoever you're negotiating with.  Their wants, needs, comfort zones, boundaries, life experiences and personal motivators.

I learned long ago getting work approved, sold up the ladder and produced often had little to do with my strategic and creative abilities on the client's behalf.  It often had more to do with my ability to present in ways that spoke to the needs, hearts and desires of those who held the power of produce or go back to the drawing board.  

If you know your ACD, your CD, your GCD, your AE, your AS, your ECD, CEO and Client like you know your Prospect, you're much better equipped to get your work approved - in tact - than if you try to sell your ideas based upon merit and belief in them alone.

Sad but true.

Divorce your self worth and pride of creation from the equation.  Present to your Prospect.

I've had higher ups who only wanted work that looked and sounded like it was their idea.  To get my award-winning pieces produced, I learned to present it like it was.

I've had CDs and clients who had to change a word - or line - before they'd bless it, thus laying claim and signifying their participation in the creation of my bon motts and risk-taking ideas.  Rather than fight their will with mine, I learned to write red herrings (look it up) in just the right places so they could red pen then out, fix the typo, change the misplaced word. Thus saving my work from death by idiots, cowards and committees.

Oh but Doreen, aren't you the big ethicist?  The Above All to Thine Own Self Be True Girl?

Yup.  And that's what I did.  Fought for my work honestly and hard - just with their words, needs, egos and desires - not mine.

If I was presenting on Friday afternoon, I learned to make my pitch short, sweet and funny.  Even if the work was for funeral directors.

If I was presenting to an a$$hole, I learned to play to his/her most vulnerable spot, usually by couching things in their vernacular so it played to their hard heads, insecurities and/or blind spots.

If the room was tired, I'd liven things up.  If the client was an English Major, I'd write my presentation (rarely my copy) in complete sentences.  If my CD was a Designer or AD, I'd let that lead.

It wasn't lying, sucking up or betraying my work.  It was presenting to MY prospect - whether my Prospect was CEO, client or teammate - in a way that allowed them to appreciate, understand and for cripe's sake - MAKE IT BETTER OR LEAVE IT ALONE.

I was presenting in a way that let someone else see my idea for it was - great work that would meet the Kamikaze Creative Objective by motivating the real Prospect.  Not for what it wasn't - something that showed how smart, talented, professional, intelligent, creative I was.

We are never The Prospect, any more than our client or CD is.  Until you realize - and use all your skills to make that connection - you're going to come out of meetings hurt, angry and abused.  Or worse - over-looked, ignored and dead in the water.

Prospect Centricity.  Make it your Mantra - whether your job is motivating your client's Prospect - or your own.

NOTE:  This post is dedicated to my friend and fellow Prospect Centricity Warrior, David Baldwin.  David now preaches the gospel of Prospect Centricity with amazing work and mentorship while I meditate over breakfast in my garden here in Cuenca, Ecuador, surrounded by the Andes in my City of Dreams.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thank you, Blogger's blogged, Mercury is Retrograde

According to Astrologer Extraordinaire, Kathryn Silverton, Mercury won't stop messing with electronics, timing, connections, etc. (see until the beginning of August.

Must be why I've been trying to publish comments on several posts, but nothing seems to be working.  I'll keep trying, one day they may show up. 

Thank you for your comments and support.  I'll let the world see your comments as soon as Blogger cooperates or Mercury goes Direct, whichever comes first.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Truth. A$$holes. The line we both loved? The END?


It is true I retired from teaching classes two terms ago. 

It is true my husband, pets and I are moving to South America.

It is true there are other things to do on Thursdays than spend eight-ten hours on Skype.

Relative Real A$$holes: See Kamikaze Copywriting Occupational Safety Rules 18-22

To the student too slimy to face me with his opinion: It is true anyone - even I - can be an a$$hole. It is also true calling me one on a form without signing your name proves my assessment and you weren't paying attention.

The construction of your other sentence fragments revealed your secret identity as clearly as your signature would have.

Had you listened more closely, you might have learned something about alternate writing styles.

Great Line.  Take it Out.  Put it Back In.  No, Take It Out.  No

There was something in the same critique I'd like to clarify.

Yes, I sometimes make students change a line, then change it back.  A sign of advancing senility?  No, something I do in my own work all the time.

When you change one line - one word, one punctuation, one line break - in copy, it often dictates previously beloved lines must change with them.  Adding or subtracting lines can also make the line we love obsolete.

A new approach may be so much better than your previous version.  What was once your best line may now be the weakest.

At times, corrections in information, solidifying or changing the copy's style/voice/tense/whatever makes good lines go bad,

Other times, changing anything - or changing the whole thing - still doesn't solve the problem.

As frustrating as it may be for any writer, going through the above exercises only proves what a great - or lousy - line it really was.

It's part of the process.  It also prepares you for clients, CDs and other higher ups who aren't happy with anything you write - until they change something. 

The End?

I've never been a dependable blogger. I still owe readers several posts I promised and never delivered.

I am considering publishing this entire blog into several smaller booklets for distribution. 

I am discussing publishing ebooks on various important subjects - everything from job interviewing to quitting to all you do in between - in tandem with at least two other "experts" with differing views.

I keep promising myself a new site, linked to this blog, to do those things plus a few goodies to help you concept, find work and show off your A shirt form (I had two my last term, so I must not have been that big an a$$hole), connect with mentors and a host of other thoughts.

Right now, however, I have to sell everything we own (looking for stacking Russian dolls depicting President Bill Clinton and his most notorious paramours?  How about three framed prints of various Dogs Playing Poker scenes?), find a place to live, probably in Cuenca, Ecuador (where even butterflies have humane constitutional rights), figure out the right CBD doses to keep the pets quiet on an International Flight and hug a few people good-bye.

Watch This Space

I'll let you know what's next as soon as the dust clears.  Meanwhile, watch your Kamikaze Copy Sins. Keep those concepts Kamikaze.

If I pick up some freelance or get a question from a former or someone else's present student, I may even add posts here as they arise.

Keep Kamikaze Copywriting Occupational Safety Rules #21 and #22 in mind:

21.  Just because he/she is an a$$hole does not mean you should be one. (Agencies know who the a$$holes are - if they're there, it's because someone much higher up than you feels they are somehow necessary.)

22.  Keep your honest opinions of a$$holes to yourself.  Remember.  Advertising makes strange bedfellows (except for Safety Rules #9-#13.)

What are Safety Rules #9-#13?  Something else I may publish.