By Lucy Baker
Tony Brignull spoke to us today about the importance of words in creating a tone of voice. It was an excellent masterclass, so I have tried to summarise it as best I can.
Tony said that within a company you expect to hear a unified voice, the best companies have one, and words help that happen. He is a strong advocate of research when it comes to finding the companies tone of voice. By research he meant not just typing the company’s name into google, but interviewing the client personally. He emphasised that it is vital to get to know a client well, so that you can begin to form an onward transitive momentum of a campaign. It helps if you are lucky enough to have a client for a prolonged period of time.
During his talk Tony showed us some of his most favourite copy, I noted some down as I am in agreement that there are some excellent lines. Here are a few:
‘The $75 tyre, if it only saves your life once, it’s a bargain.’
‘After we paint the car, we paint the paint.’
‘Drive it like you hate it, it’s cheaper than psychiatry.’
‘Of course you can live without CR, the question is how well?’
‘When the government killed the dog license, it left us to kill the dogs.’
There were many more but I won’t ramble on.
Tony Brignull highlighted that a great skill in copywriting was to create ‘one word and a thousand facts’. He presented to us some of his favourite press ads that demonstrated this skill, including that of Parker pen, the Army Selection Board, amongst others. All were impressive and Tony was humble in his acknowledgment of his talent.
In order to become a great copywriter, Tony rammed home the need to read read read. How do you expect to become a great writer if you don’t? He observed that fewer people read than they used to, and that it was a great shame. Ads do seem to be more image based, perhaps we are a lazy generation addicted to screens. He highly recommended ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’ as a starting point, I will take him up on it.
When asked the secret to his creative technique and how he wrote such memorable ads, he responded metaphorically. He, like most people, dig into the ground and pick up and huge mound of the earth that may contain one or two diamonds or gold, but you have to chip away at it. He said that some people are lucky and chisel clean, but most of the time it’s a process of elimination. If you only ever stick to your first idea, you will be disappointed with yourself.
Finally he said that he always asked himself what, where, why and how.
I think everyone would agree that it was an inspiring Monday morning, and that we are extremely lucky to have heard such a great man speak.