The Games Advertising Copywriters Play: Conflict, Quasi-Control, A New Proposal

Arthur J Kover and Stephen M Goldberg

I think the cleaner the sheet of paper, the greater the opportunity for passion. The greater the constraint, obviously the less passion that's going to go into it.

Source: Associate Creative Director, New York agency

For most large companies, the translation of marketing strategies into persuasive selling language is customarily reserved to their advertising agencies' creative departments. That translation is neither trivial nor simple. It is beset by the uncertainties of control and output. In plain language, all sorts of people want to get their hands on the advertising in order to control and change it. This paper describes the need for control in advertising agencies. It does so mainly from the viewpoint of advertising copywriters, their need to control the advertising they write, and their struggle to keep others from changing it either directly or indirectly - the latter we call the copywriters' dance. We then review some efforts to reduce this struggle for control and conclude with a suggestion that could be a new direction for advertising agencies.