"I can't wate for my party at Chuk E. Chese where a kid can be a kid."
He is one to spout advertising taglines regularly. For a while when those Cymbalta commercials were running, he would ask me, "Mama, are you sad? Cymbalta can help." And then he'd make these big, concerned moon eyes at me.
It was disturbing. But also oddly satisfying. I'm a copywriter so I can't help but admire when words get caught in a consumer's brain and repeated to others. I know it's wrong, because we're talking about my innocent child, but really, all you consumers are my innocent children and I want you swallowing up my copy whole and without censure. And I wouldn't mind if you walked around repeating it as gospel.
Some people say advertisers are liars. They say the same thing about lawyers and I happen to be married to a lawyer. Neither one of us is a liar. I believe what I write. And my husband would be the first to tell you that if you've hired a lawyer who lies, you're going down. If you lie in court and the judge finds out, it's over. And chances are the judge is going to find out, because the lawyer on the other side is doing everything he can to prove you wrong.
I don't know how a copywriter can be a liar and be any good. Some people say fiction is a lie, but I say fiction is a lie you believe. You believe the story while you're writing it. You are so caught up in the dream of it that it is real, it is truth while you're in it. If it weren't, the story wouldn't be any good.
The same goes for copywriting. I have to believe in my product in order to write about it. I get caught up in whatever I'm working on and immerse myself in it. I become its biggest fan. I believe my own hype. I have to.
Now have I ever been asked to write about something I didn't believe in?
Did I write about it?
Because I knew it wouldn't be any good. Most copywriters don't have the luxury of choosing what they write about, true. But so long as it doesn't go against your religious beliefs or core values, chances are you can find something positive and truthful to say. I couldn't sign up for the Pro Death Penalty cause or the Buddhism Is Evil campaign. But I have sold cars and some people might think cars are evil. They consume fossil fuels and people do die in accidents. I'm from Detroit though, and loving cars is in my blood. My geography has made me look longingly at wheels and steel. What can I say? I think consuming some fossil fuel is necessary and people die sitting in chairs.
I've written about grocery stores and golf balls, and I've sold coffee. I've sold chocolate. I've sold sex toys. And I believed in each one as I wrote about it. I believed it was the best damn grocery store, the most athletic golf ball, the most delicious coffee, the smoothest chocolate. I'll leave the sex toys to your imagination.
The point is, I believed. If the person behind the tagline believes it, chances are it'll ring true to you. And if you happen to be seven, it'll be oft-repeated gospel.
Image from Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising.