November 15, 2012

Show the product in a compelling way

If you make something worth talking about, that's all you should need to do. Apple arguably perfected this approach with the first iPhone.

So I think these created spots for Windows Phone (done by CP+B) are exactly what Microsoft needs.

(Full disclosure, Windows Phone is a client.)

October 25, 2012

Ask A Copywriter is dead. Long live Brand Writer.

I’m consolidating all my online stuff at

But fear not, I’ll still post lessons I learn and whatever else catches my eye at

And I’m still happy to answer your questions, just hit me up @BrandWriter.

September 27, 2012

What's the secret to getting creative work done?

What's the one thing you need to actually execute your ideas?

You're probably not going to like it - at least I didn't. I've been trying to ignore this truth for over 25 years - and I've got pages and pages of wasted ideas to show for it.

The secret to getting creative work done can be summed up in one word.


“Daily quota for my insane daily process: 11 steps x 4 sheets/step = 44 pages.” – Austin Kleon

(Photo and caption stolen from his instagram.)

Tons more great inspiration and tips on his site.

Should you work for free?

A joke tweet to @GapingVoid got me thinking seriously about the question: is it ever worth it to do work for free?

Of course, it’s never OK to ask someone to do free work for you. At the very least, offer a bottle of wine or have them over for dinner. (That’s what some friends of mine did when I recently did some freebie work to help them launch their new business.)
But if you don’t actually know someone (in real life) please don’t bother asking.

When someone does have the nerve to ask you, is saying yes ever worth it?

My take on it is – only if you’re getting something out of it that’s more valuable than money.

For example, I did I pro bono campaign with the Louisville AdFed years ago when I was trying to break into the business.

Here are my guidelines on when it might be worth your while to do work for free:

- Early in your career for experience and networking. [Warning: this only pays off if you actually do great work.]

- A favor for a friend. [Same warning: if it’s not great work either one or both of you will wind up feeling disappointed.]

- Pro bono for a cause or organization you care about.

- A really fun and awesome side project. [But only if it’s a chance to work with really fun and awesome people.]

- Crowdsourcing contests (Victor&Spoils and zoopa list some reasons to participate on their sites, but see below for the opinion I agree with.)

This Fast Company article, How to be a happy and successful creative freelancer, has some good insights on getting paid.
It also contains this quote from Justin Gignac on crowdsourcing platforms, “Creatives should get paid for the work they do and not be throwing work into the mix in hopes of ‘winning’ and getting paid.”

Have you ever done work for free? Why and was it worth it?

September 12, 2012

Are we drowning in data or just deplorable design?

The glut of bad infographics out there hurts our industry and my brain. So it's refreshing to see a well-executed take on visualizing data that's way more interesting than another clip art chart.
IBM created a wall of interactive data for tennis fans at the US Open.
Here's a closer look at all the details:

September 7, 2012

How well can you fake it?

For all our talk about “authenticity,” it’s still tempting to take shortcuts or cheat to make an execution look perfect.

Nokia is the latest brand to get caught with their hand in the cookie jar. (Full disclosure: Windows Phone is a client.)

At least their apology is honest.

But how many people will see it compared to the juicier story?

September 5, 2012

August 15, 2012

Who are the conductors?

To come up with a great idea, you have to read the brief.
To sell a great idea, you have to read the room.

The first thing I ask myself when I walk into a presentation is
"Who are the conductors?"

Who directs the orchestra?

And who's running the train?

The first gets the vision and the second gets it done.

If you're lucky, it’s the same person. Usually it’s not.

August 10, 2012

June 6, 2012

I guess augmented reality sounds cooler than guerilla?

I think this idea is strong enough on it's own without the Augmented Reality schtick, but easy to see why they went there.
It's a nice use of the technique popularized by Pick Your Nose cups.

May 23, 2012

Ask @LeeClowsBeard

Who is the man behind the beard?

If you haven’t already heard, wit and wisdom of @LeeClowsBeard has been turned into a book.

(image via

Last week, the identity of the Copywriter/Creative Director behind the account was revealed. So AskACopywriter asked @Jason_Fox about his adventure impersonating the facial hair of an advertising luminary.

AACW. Why did you start the account?

Jason. I started @leeclowsbeard to see if anyone cared what I had to say about advertising when they didn't know who the author was. Sure, a lot of folks thought it was actually Lee, but that was never my intent. Hence the "beard" designation. I suppose if I'd written complete drivel, the jig would've been up a lot sooner.

AACW. How did the book come about?

Jason. Rob Schwartz, Chiat's CCO in L.A., started following LCB a few months into its existence. I waited six or seven months before finally breaking down and sending him a direct message to ask if Lee knew what his beard was doing behind his back. He said Lee knew, approved (as long as I kept up the quality) and wanted to know who the heck I was. They flew me out to L.A. at the end of July in 2010, and the idea for the book was spawned over lunch in Venice. It was completely surreal.

(image via

AACW. What was it like meeting Lee Clow?

Jason. Lee has been nothing but exceedingly gracious. While signing the book for employees during the launch party (on May 18), he signed them all, "I didn't write this book." He didn't want any credit. He really is the cool surfer dude most of us hoped he would be.

AACW. Any tweets that he didn’t agree with?

Jason. Not that he mentioned. But I don't take his silence to mean tacit approval on everything. Just most everything, I suppose, since he was excited to do the book.

(image via Jason’s instagram)

AACW. What’s your favorite tweet that didn’t make the book?

Jason. I have a ton of favorites that didn't make the book, but that's a fact of timing more than anything. The book has just over 300 tweets and I'm now up to over 775. Basically, we decided on a cut-off date and stuck to it. A few newish ones ended up in there to fill in layout holes, but otherwise there's plenty of material for volume two. Not that there will be a volume two. Unless people buy a lot of books. Hint. But to actually answer the question, my favorite tweet that is not in the book is also the most popular: "You cannot become the person or agency you wish to be by doing the type of work you wished you never had to do."

AACW. Most popular tweet?

Jason. See above. It's been retweeted over 700 times.

AACW. Has tweeting as @LeeClowsBeard made you a better creative? How so?

Jason. Sure. Not only have I forced myself to think about all aspects of advertising and what is right and wrong about them, I then had to condense those thoughts into exceedingly concise messages that people would respond to. (And those tweets are usually under 110 characters so folks would have space to comment during a retweet.) I look at this as a giant campaign. With almost 800 ads. So if anyone ever complains about struggling to get three good lines for a presentation, I really don't want to hear it.

AACW. Hear, hear. Thanks Jason.

(image via

You can buy the book, check out the site by TBWA or get the app. And, of course, follow @LeeClowsBeard.

(image via

May 22, 2012

Shouldn't hiring good people be easy?

I actually drove around the block to see this billboard again.
(Image swiped from this recap in the Austin Business Journal. Which also led to me to
The fake site thing is a fun idea for a Human Resources firm targeting start-ups. But would have been much better if they could have gotten the straight up URLs ( and and built a working version of each.

February 22, 2012

How long should your copy be?

Follow the skirt rule:

Long enough to cover it, short enough to be interesting.

Lifted from this post by @saraeleta

February 20, 2012

Brand new look. Same great taste.

Welcome to the relaunch of

From here out, @AskACopywriter will be dedicated to this blog. And I may even start posting more than once a month again (although I do have a few other big goals to tackle this year.)

(I’ve also moved my portfolio to and my personal Twitter handle is now @BrandWriter.)

February 6, 2012

What was your favorite Super Bowl spot?

It was the year of cars again this year. My favorite spot was Chrysler’s Halftime in America. Great writing and Clint Eastwood VO.

I also really liked the Chevrolet apocalypse spot, until the forced jab at Ford.

I wanted to love Honda’s Matthew’s Day Off, but I can’t get past that it’s about the actor not the Ferris character. The online teaser actually hurt this one.

These weren’t my favs, but best online extension goes to Chevy Sonic’s and Jack In The Box’s

2012 was also the year of dog (and there were some real dogs in the mix, looking at you Doritos) but after their platinum duds, Bud Light’s rescue dog tie-in was a welcome change.

And then there was, which I’d actually put it in the middle of the pack.

I’m only including it here because lots of folks tweeted that the ad was inspired by Men in Black II…

…but I thought of How to Get Ahead in Advertising.

(If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and buy it now.)
Of course, the bottom of the barrel was GoDaddy, who were out-sexed by Telaflora and Fiat.
It’s also time for e-Trade to retire the baby. But I like how Fidelity stuck it to them them with a promoted tweet.