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Articles - Content Marketing - July 2, 2020

Spooner on…is copywriting dead or just out of fashion?

My tiny, rented hovel in the filthy heart of Brighton is on a street that can only be, at best, described as “authentic”, with its industrial bins and the kind of graffiti that will never be featured in a Lürzer’s Archive compendium of street art.

Frankly, if you are not, like me, beyond hope, you might find it intimidating.

Walking back from yet another a lonely, late-night trudge along the seafront to commune with the moon “Gazed at unto my setting from my rise, almost of none save of unquiet eyes”, as the poet Byron reminds us, and turning into my street, I found myself suddenly and silently surrounded by several youths on those shiny, new electric motorcycles.

I turned to see a vast, equally-silent shape approaching, With a tremor of relief I realised that it was the enormous, vintage, open-top Packard Drop-head Coupé that Lord McKelvey, Senechal Of The Western Marches and distinguished editor of Decision Marketing magazine (the premier source of news, views and scandal for the world of 1-2-1 Marketing, or whatever we are calling it this week) has had converted to Hydrogen Power.

As its vast engine thrummed menacingly in the moonlight, sending great plumes of planet-friendly steam into the night air, I heard him boom, “Now my lads, now!”

His handsomely-paid, hooligan outriders reached, as one, into their leather jackets, each extravagantly embroidered with the McKelvey crest – and I feared momentarily that I had finally come to the end of my time as an unpaid serf in the service of his Lordship and was about to meet my maker amongst the gull-shit, empty Oranjeboom cans and skittering filth of Blank Street, just yards from my own front door.

I flinched instinctively and felt a rain of objects strike my elderly head and shoulders as the youths laughed and grunted: “There you go Grandad! Suck on that ya coffin-dodger! Up the Seagulls! McKelvey for ever!” they screeched and caroled. Feeling no pain I looked down to see hundreds of biros, ballpoints, fine-liners and the like adding to the foul litter of Blank Street.

I looked up baffled.

Like a South American Generalissimo about to address a crowd of ungrateful peons, the vast bulk of Lord McKelvey stood and composed itself, brushing imaginary lint from the lapels of a faultless, tangerine Gresham Blake dinner jacket.

“Spooner you abject cur!”, he bellowed, “I see that the D&AD have ditched the copywriting category from their awards, I require a column on the Death Of Copywriting before the sun rises or we shall burn this street to the ground using only ethically sourced, petroleum by-products! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

As silently as they had arrived, the cortège moved off, the soft night’s quiet broken only by the whoops and cries of McKelvey’s teenage entourage and the derisory barking of a lone gull perched on the huge, stinking KFC dumpster opposite my front door.

So, to the task in hand. I don’t like to promote it, but you’ll find the details here at that inferior industry rag Sham Pain. It’s written by Paul Burke (ex Y&R, JWT and BMP DDB) who makes some interesting points in his summation, which he introduces thus:

“D&AD was once the UK’s most famous and prestigious awards show. It was every copywriter’s dream to win one of its yellow Pencils – the advertising industry’s equivalent of an Oscar. A yellow Pencil, or even having your work included in the D&AD Annual, was a time-honoured way of showcasing your talent and boosting your career. But now, in a move that could damage the industry and diminish its own reputation, D&AD has decided that ‘writing’ no longer merits a category of its own or a Pencil for its finest practitioners.”

And he goes on to point out:..

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