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Copywriter? Like the kind with the little c in the circle?

I used to tell people I was a copywriter and then they’d look at me funny. I knew they were not hearing the “er” part. Copyright? © Like do you protect them? The explanation was way too long so I started telling people I was a writer and then they’d look at me all googly-eyed. Ooh, like an author? You write for magazines? The newspaper? It was sad to disappoint them with the truth (even though I do occasionally write books and for magazines). So then I started to say I’m a direct marketing writer. Brows crinkled as I explained that there’s a type of advertising writing that is meant to elicit a response from the reader. I write the message for a specific reader. The reader reads the message. The message makes the reader do something. Direct marketing. This was a conversation that often took way longer than an elevator ride. So I eventually morphed to freelance writer. Ok, now we’re onto something. The freelance part people got. Even freelance copywriter made more sense for some reason. I was beginning to think that I could attach freelance to any word and there would be this instant understanding that I was running my own my business.

Ever wonder why a register mark is control R on the keyboard, but a copyright symbol is control G? These are the things that a freelance lover of words wants to know.  


Holiday Doodle

Things get sketchy in my office this time of year. There's something about doodling and coloring and coming up with silly ideas that makes me feel extra festive. Wishing you and yours all kinds of merry and happy this season. 


Protecting Your Brand

The word "protecting"—did it make you think legal? Trademarks and copyrights? Those are definite components for safeguarding your brand. Right off the bat, let's put it out there that the word brand and all the little catch phrases that go with it—brand essence, brand identity, brand strategy—are used ad nauseum. We use the word as a springboard for building ideas, launching campaigns and impressing others. Whichever approach you align with, it is essential that you protect your brand from brand erosion. Yes, with vulnerability, sales can dip and customers can dwindle. But I'm talking about a fundamental question to ask before any of that may happen. How often do you hit the pause button to ask yourself "who am I?"

One of my favorite fractured idioms—one that I try hard to not slip into—is the "ready, fire, aim" approach to marketing. Businesses are moving faster than ever to get their messaging out to market. Deadlines are tighter, budgets are leaner, staffs are smaller and business directives can come from so many places—from the CEO to the board of directors to the market itself. This frenzy can easily create a vortex of reactivity. If A happens, we do B. If B happens, let's quickly shift to C. This knee-jerk pattern can go on and on until suddenly you look at an ad that you've created, or you visit your website, or you read your tagline du jour, and you have this feeling of "how did I get here?" Somewhere along the way to getting everything out the door, did you lose the ability to step back and have your "wait a minute" moment?

"Wait a minute" moments are critical for protecting your brand. While the day-to-day pandemonium is probably unavoidable, the pause button is always on the offering. Press it when you hear yourself trying to shoehorn your brand into something simply because it fits a trend. Press it when you're making changes just to mirror your competition. Press it when you need to reconnect with your brand's foundation and how it all began. Press pause because suspending time for even a few seconds can give you the power to make active—not reactive—decisions. And that's the ultimate in brand protection.


I Now Understand Why: A Message to My Mama

Why you told me my favorite bedtime stories, night after night, even when you were nodding off between sentences.

Why you came to school one day holding a bag of melting ice because the nurse called to say that I sliced my finger in shop class.

Why you searched every department store to finally find me a winter hat that covered my ears without messing up the wings of my hair.

Why you let me eat candy even though Dad, a dentist, did not like it.

Why you told me how sweet I was even on those days when I was beastly hormonal to you.

Why you left the sink piled high with dishes so you could take us to the park across the street for those last minutes of summer sunlight.

Why you let me take the maximum number of books (10) out from the library every week and helped me carry them home.

Why you let me try on your jewelry, even the good stuff, and parade around the house in your pointy black high heels.

Why you didn’t get (too) mad when I almost sold your most expensive perfume for 25 cents at a yard sale.

Why you insisted on being true to you—in your flamboyant blouses with the lace and ruffles, and sticking to your unusual hair-do—even when I thought the entire world was staring at you.

Why you had a standing Wednesday lunch date with Dad.

Why you took naps.

Why you rarely complained.

Why you hugged me all the time.

Why getting things on sale was such a rush.

Why eating out was such a treat.

Why you put lipstick on every day.

Why you spoke to your mom every day.

Why you always made me feel like the most loved little girl in the world.

I now understand why in ways I never did before.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there. And to those up there, including mine. 






The 5-Second TV Ad Spot

I know it's happening. When I read novels, I get cranky if the chapters are longer than about a page and a half each. I watch TV, and if the show doesn't capture my attention in about ten seconds, I flip on. When the weekend edition of The New York Times arrives at my doorstep I get this feeling of, ugh, look at that pile of reading. Where's The Skim? Toe tap, toe tap, come on, hurry up. I'm impatient. But it's not my fault. It's things like the 5-second TV ad spot campaign that Pepsi is about to launch

A blink of an eye takes around one third of a second. So I will blink 15 times as I watch each Pepsi spot. They are very cute, these spots, with their emojis, giggles, music and theme-related hooks like the Pepsi bottles laying on a towel at the beach. First the emoji is wearing sunglasses. Then a timer goes BING! and the emoji becomes a lobster.

Snapchat has trained me to see things quick. When I can SKIP AD, trust me, I do. Pepsi is definitely onto something with this emoji campaign. Emojis say so much with so little. It's especially fun to string them together to creatively express yourself. (I do this with my friend, Linda, via text.) Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out which emoji captures my thoughts best, especially with all those variations on the smiley face. And then, because I have no time for this silliness, I wind up using my go-to reportoire of emojis: birthday icons, classic smiley face, an occasional smiley with sunglasses or hearts, weather-related images.

I really want to find an excuse to use those more abstract ones such as this. I need to find an outlet to plug something in that doesn't have three prongs? I really love the number 11?

And here's one I never used. Look at me, I know karate? I can't get this sweater off? 

With our attention spans dwindling, what we really need to do is not make shorter TV spots, but figure out a way to eliminate all that blinking. Because basically my eyes are shut for a good 30 minutes a day, and that's when I'm not even sleeping.