Don’t miss this blurb about David Ogilvy writing copy.
Kinda funny, kind of just a glimpse behind the curtain.
The guy was a legend.
I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.
I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.
I am helpless without research material – and the more “motivational,” the better.
I write out a definition of the problem and statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until that statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.
Before actually writing the copy, I write down every conceivable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.
Then, I write the headline. As a matter of fact, I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinions of other people in the agency. In some cases, I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run of battery headlines.
At this point, I can no longer postpone doing the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room, I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)
I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.
If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.
Next morning I get up early and edit the gush.
Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)
I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I got to work editing my own draft. After four of five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry – because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote, I wrote on purpose.
Although it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.