During a forum that took place in the Guardian online on the evolution of the copywriting profession, Oliver Wingate wrote:
The connection between copywriters and poets is something of an old cliché, I fully appreciate that. And it was alluded to yesterday as if it was some kind of affliction, or indulgence. But the two are closely related, because they’re about compression, reducing to the bare minimum…Copywriters who have not learned about this connection with poetry, or who refuse to learn about it, don’t deserve to be called copywriters, in my view… I don’t see why we should proliferate words for people, when they’d be much more grateful to you for brevity.
We still maintain that copywriting and poetry are different and distinct activities for at least one reason: because what makes them happen – a briefing on one hand, free inspiration on the other – can’t be confused.
Nevertheless, looked at from the technical point of view we confess that the parallel is tempting.
Risi Dastidar, who writes both copies and poems:
As poets we want to find language that lodges in the memory, articulates things we can’t easily do otherwise. Any good copywriter, whether consciously or not, should be doing this already.
Let’s put it like this: the obsession with the accurately chosen word and the respect they reveal for themselves and their job is exactly why we envy the colleagues who took part in the Guardian discussion.
(And how we destested the word “copy” in the place of “copywriter”. “Are you a copy?”, “We need a copy”: the sound of such sentences reminds us of the lack of professionalism and the rudeness we experienced during our agency years).