Sunday, September 02, 2007

No Happiness in my Ads!

Okay, okay, almost two weeks since my last posting. Sorry. Busy with writing, teaching, and getting ready to collect more data on several studies. More on this later, I'm sure. For now I'm taking some time relaxing by watching the first season of Eureka , which my wife turned me on to earlier this summer. Reluctant at first, not a big "sci-fi" fan...it is a terrific show which we borrowed the DVDs of season 1. So, I guess I'll recommend it.

But, I've figured that I'd try to tell a story I heard from a friend of mine who works in the advertising industry. He's a writer, actually. And, one who is only in "the biz" because it is a way that he can get paid to do what he loves--which is write. He's the one who told me about the podcast Martini Shot which is a short "inside Hollywood" cast that takes a business view rather than gossipy.

Anyway...this story this friend told me is this:

He had a writing meeting at the agency he works for. Now, this guy is a writer in a way that I am not...while I am mostly interested in getting the gist of my ideas across...this guy crafts messages where every word is chosen. And the order in which he places them is consciously planned. He has given me examples of rhthym in advertising copy that I had never thought of. It's quite impressive. So, here he is in a meeting with a client. And when we say client, we mean the SEVERAL representatives from the client. Can't ever have just one decision-maker in the room. There have to be many different folks in there to earn their keep.

So, my friend presents the ad copy...which, remember, he has crafted to conveny the exact message the client wants conveyed. And, in this piece of copy is the word "Happiness." Now, I trust my friend's professionalism and talent enough to know that when he put in the word 'happiness' that was the best word...either because it fit the sentence/tone/rhythm of the sentence or it conveyed the correct meaning better than anything else....Not bliss, mirth, gaiety, deletation...He'd chosen happiness for a reason.

But, one of the clients said "You can't use the word 'happiness' in any of my ads. Change it." Well, now my friend has two questions. First, how much power does this guy have out of all the client reps in the room? In other words, will his devotion to his craft make him go toe-to-toe with this dude? And secondly, What is it that this guy has against the word happiness?

Well, after dancing around the second question for awhile, it the reason is finally revealed. "The word 'happiness' sounds like 'penis,' and I won't have the word penis associated with my business."

You can almost hear the jaws in the room drop. But then, everyone present probably did what I did the first time I heard this story...and probably what you're doing right now....they repeated the word "happiness" to themselves several times under their breath...My gosh, the guy's got a point! Kinda...close enough...

And, it turns out, the guy had enough power to have my friend change the word. After all, there's craft and then there's making a living.

1 comment:

Samuel D. Bradley said...

And here we thought that idiot reviewers were the worst problem in the world!