Words, Words, Words And A Few More Words On Copywriting

4:18:00 PM

This is a belated sharing of lessons from the third session of Better than Ever Raw School 2014, a series of seminars organized by the Creative Guild of Philippines for young creatives (in and out of the advertising industry).

Words, Words, Words And A Few More Words On Copywriting was held at the surprisingly spacious Makati office of Publicis JimenezBasic. Five experienced writers (four from the industry, one is a known entertainer) shared their “secrets” to a roomful of kids who understand that it takes continuous learning to succeed in this profession.

First to share some veteran wisdom was Lawin Bulatao of Arena (Havas Media Group Ortega’s media agency), who had one Don’t for everyone: he warned the creatives against “malicious compliance”. This simply means following directions (job orders, creative briefs) to a fault. What the client wants is one thing. What’s actually best for the brand (in terms of communication) is another - and as creatives, this is what we should always strive to put out with our work.  He then proceeded to nine very simple but often-overlooked Do’s:
Do your homework.
Be honest.
Be fearless.
Be unforgiving.
Be precise.
Keep reading.
Keep writing.
Give them something they never thought possible.

I enjoyed PC&V creative director Don Bautista’s talk on How to Write in a Foreign Language in particular. Oddly enough (not sure if it was a conscious decision), the title doesn’t hold up (not technically) because he focused on a language that was anything but foreign: Filipino. (It is true that many Filipino copywriters struggle with writing in the mother tongue, and I would try to explain why but I don’t know how not to sound like a whiny, privileged ahensiya girl, so let’s move on to his advice.)

He said that in order to write Tagalog, you must think in Tagalog. Don’t get used to conceptualizing in English and translating it to Filipino in copy later on. Bautista tipped us to open our ears more to the conversations around us. Be familiar with how people talk (not necessarily eavesdrop in conversations) and use that in our communication.

BBDO Guerrero executive creative director Tin Sanchez delivered a “live art” performance, wherein she tried to salvage the copy of a very badly written toilet ad. After a few minutes of chopping sentences, rewriting and erasing them altogether, she ended with typing: “I don’t know what makes good copy. I just write until it feels right.”

Ace Saatchi & Saatchi’s Greg Martin put emphasis on starting with a line. You need to have one line (a thought, an insight) that will string the whole thing together. And it doesn't even have to appear in the copy. Martin had a very simple tip and you know what, it works. The next day, I started applying this to all my JOs – I’d put a “Greg Martin (non-copy point) line” in red on top of my copy sheet, and the words just flowed freely.

The last speaker was poet-journalist Lourd de Veyra, who stressed the importance of “hanging out with words”. He encouraged the attendees to pick up a practice called morning pages. The idea is to free your mind for the rest of the day by jotting down all your first thoughts in the morning…no outlines, no editing, no revisiting - just pure, unadulterated writing.


Raw School is only one of many industry events that I’ve been looking forward to since jumping in “from the other side”. Others include the adobo Design Awards (check!), adobo Maincourse, Ad Summit (replacing Ad Congress, check!), and local and international award shows.

I was able to attend four sessions in the 2012-2013 run. You can read about each of the experience here (minus one, can’t seem to find the link for Leigh Reyes’ talk):
1. Raw School Royalty: Ompong says be “hungry for radio”
2. ‘Be, Do, Have’ is Jim Paredes’ formula for creativity
3. Geeks rule at Raw School!

And l just have to say…it’s SO NICE to not be chasing after speakers once they’ve delivered their bits – trying to get video interviews while audio recording and live reporting ongoing talks. Don’t get me wrong – I loved that job, but ah, to not feel hurried all the time is a welcome change. :) :) :)

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  1. Replies
    1. Please check Raw School's Facebook page (linked in the post) to be updated on future sessions :)


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