When I first started writing copy nobody – as I noted a few days ago – had the vaguest idea what I did and trying to explain to someone normal like Tommy Cochrane, the barman at my parents’ pub, that one got paid for doing such a silly job was hard work.
Almost invariably, whoever I was talking to would say, as the mists of disbelief cleared, “Oh, you write them slogans, then.”
Among the legion of masturbatory slogans that afflict us with their boastful flatulence, “We’re better, connected” - O2’s contribution to the corporate world of “me, me, me” - has always struck me as outstandingly irritating.
You can just see the writer hugging him or herself with glee as they inserted that coy little comma.
In our new place in Bristol none of the internet providers, despite their boasts, seem able to get us broadband in this millennium.. So I have had to resort to getting a Dongle.
My partner Al who specialises in all things that relate to the internet warned me it would drive me mad.
It has succeeded in spades.
Using it reminds me of countless hours in those dear, dead days when I used to sit in hotels around the world sticking wires into my computer and screaming abuse at it as I failed to get connected with the big, wide wonderful World-Wide Wank.
This morning as I get ready to fly off to Slovenia I’m failing to get connected to O2 – again. A brief message pops up which ends by telling me that if all else fails I can call a help-line which is (wait for it, friends) on my bill.
Where is the bill? I have no idea. Oddly enough I don’t carry the bloody thing round with me. Or is it electronic? Again, I have no idea.
I was going to say you couldn't make it up - but this sort of thoughtlessness is quite common.
Does the boss of Telefonica – who own O2 - ever try to use their damn Dongle service? People like that should get their arses out of the meetings they waste their days on and try being a customer.
You can talk and boast as much as you like (and all these big firms do like, a lot). But believe me, an ounce of competence beats ten tons of bullshit any old day
When I talk about branding in a couple of months the subject of slogans and why almost all are a complete bloody waste of time is one I shall cover with considerable pleasure.
Anyone who listens may well save themselves a small fortune, as they will when Andy Knowles reveals the reasons why people don’t choose your brand when they wander down the aisles at Tesco or Walmart.
I promised to tell you about my most embarrassing moment a week or so back. I will eventually but in the meantime, I had a good one yesterday.
I had to do a two hour session on how to write better.
I spent some days playing around with my slides, looking for the ones that would tell the best lessons or raise the loudest laughs.
The body of what I intended to talk about revolved around five letters and six emails which I planned to dissect, explaining why I had written what I had written and why one of the letters had been rendered useless by a simple failure to think. There were also some ads and mailing which I admired, and intended to talk about.
When I got to the meeting room, I learned that the presentation, which had been emailed by the radiant Chloe, hadn't arrived. It was too big and had been automatically stopped by whatever machinery my client has in place to guard against I know not what. So there I was, bereft, with two hours to fill.
Just you try to explain in detail how to write better copy with absolutely no visual aids whatsoever. It's happened to me two or three times before. Hard work, but they seemed to like it. As a spectator sport it's hard to beat watching someone else trying to haul themselves out of the shit.