You have been in school for twenty years when you think of it. 3 years in kindergarten, eight in primary school, four in high school, one and a half in a professional course (read CPA, ICDL, CPS) and another four in campus. That is the ideal number of years a kawaida undergraduate should spend in school. That is if you did not rewind any class. Twenty whole years. Listening to someone stand in front of you, day in day out for two whole decades. But even then, you still have not been given the power to read. What you have is mere basic education.
When I was through with my two decades of basic education, I decided to take a break from all that I was taught for 20 years. To try something new. No law firms for me, or masters or shit like that. I mean, where are we rushing to anyway? So I took up a job in an advertising firm in the city as a copywriter. Those of my friends who went to law firm amuse me every time I tell them I am a copywriter. Why can’t I get a real job anyway? They ask.
In fact there is this one lassie (let’s call her Nyadorera) who went through my LinkedIn profile. When she saw ‘Copywriter’ she inboxed me on Facebook to ask if I spent four years in campus just to go copy someone else’s stuff. In her mind, a copywriter is someone who copies what other people have written. Apparently that is what happens in advertising agencies.
This, coming from someone who brags the tag of ‘learned friend.’
That is when it hit home that all those twenty years we spend in school does not mean squat. I wondered why God keeps allowing stupid people to breed. I figure that is the hell that we read in the Good Book. Hell is not fire, spruced up by burning sulphur and brimstone. No. It is the possibility that one day we will be outnumbered by idiots.
Forgive me for being too forward. I apologize for calling Nyadorera stupid. Honestly I thought she already knew. But surely, if I may borrow her exact words. “How do you spend four years in campus, and not know what copywriting is all about?”
We live in this thing we nowadays call a global village. Google is our friend, donge? Most of us managed to sit through exams, and hand in assignments on time because of the generosity of the internet with information.
So for the sake of all those Nyadoreras out there, here is what Urban Dictionary has to say about who a copy writer is:
Someone whose work is to create texts for advertising. Normally in his/her twenties or did you ever meet a 50 year old copywriter?”
That joke about 50 year old copywriters is a low blow, forget it. Pay more attention on ‘creates texts for advertising” bit.
However, here is what I do.
I sit in the office from 10am to 6pm thinking of about ten different adjectives I can use to describe milk. A client came in and said that he is starting a new Milk product. From his accent you can tell a lot. That he uses Hugo Boss, wears Italian suits, Ethiopian shoes, lives in Lower Karen and that his favorite meal must be anything served in G pot or Kosewe.
What he will tell you in so many words is that he is bringing competition to kamwana on another front. Now that Baba has been unable to slay him on the political frontier.
So basically, he does not want people to drink Brookside anymore.
You do not care if what he is bringing into the market is goat milk, cow milk, camel milk or a woman’s breast milk. All you know…all you should know…all you need to know is that he is paying your bills for the next one year or so, and now you have to come up with something smart to draw the audience. You need to come up with a phrase, or tagline. Something short and punchy. Something that sells. Something that will take the product to the front page of Google, otherwise that would be false advertising. Something (as Bikozulu would say) sexy. Like that Got Milk? brilliance I placed up there. Goodness James, it was not meant for you to get your hands gummy with. Google it (the phrase, not Jenifer Hudson) and see how many responses you get.
So you start thinking.
And here is the thing about creativity in general. The first thing that comes to your head, throw it away. Everyone else has thought about it. And in copywriting, you have to stand out.
Since I ventured into the advertising industry, I am keen on adverts running. There are a few ads that I like. Faulu Kenya was a hit. Old Mutual using that Ugandan comedian was a miss. It is actually boring. Airtel’s 254 concept was awesome. But it does not beat folks at Scanad- Safaricom’s slaves. I hate Safaricom. I think they charge too expensively for mobile data, plus they also sponsored Kasarani Concentration Camp by providing that police station. But I swear their ads are too good to ignore. “Lock your chumz with M-shwari, and rock your dreams.”Catchy, eh?
Oh, and by the way M-shwari is a Safcom and CBA thing, right? And kamwana is a CBA bigwig? And they denied Coca-Cola rights to Nyayo Stadium, because we will be selling our national heritage to multinational corporations…but they gave similar rights to Safaricom for Moi International Sports Center Kasarani, right? And then they gave Safaricom that tender for CCTV cameras- in whose ads kamwana has extraordinarily Brookside milky eyes, saying “Usalama ni mimi na wewe”?
Ah…what was I even saying? Forget that mindless drivel. That is hate speech. Kamwana and Safcom are not bedfellows. Opposition should wait for 20 years after kamwana and the hustler are through with their tenure.
Where was I? Copywriting for milk? Yes.
Copywriting is fun, only when your client does not make you rewrite your four-worded copy six times in one day. See those words you read on billboards, posters and newspaper ads? That is called a copy. Plural is copies. We write copies. We are copywriters, Nyadorera. Got it?It pays more that carrying files to court.
And I am still looking for adjectives to describe milk. Any ideas people? Anyone? Nyadorera?