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A Writer Shortage in AdLand?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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"A good writer is a good thinker."

That sentence was said by a professor of ours who taught media writing. He has been in the LA Times numerous times, and has been a literary critic for a number of years. Needless to say, we took his advice and criticism seriously. He held the fact that if you are able to translate what are you thinking into the written word, in the simplest of terms, you were thinking at your highest capacity. Those who think well are able to easily explain to others their own thoughts and ideas. Good writing, and if we continue the positive correlation, good thinking, is needed in every segment of our society. The better we communicate, the better the outcome we are looking for.

Naturally, there seems to be a void of these people in AdLand.

The argument is nothing new. Ogilvy, the man who loved the written word in advertising, is quoted saying "Advertising is a business of words, but advertising agencies are infested with men and women who cannot write. They are  helpless as deaf mutes on the stage at the Metropolitan Opera."

Today, Michael Wolff makes the same claim in the Information Age. In a USA Today article, he exclaims that the advertising business needs more writers. He calls on his talks with friends in the industry, all who say that creatives go out of their way so as not to write. His observation sees the job of the "copywriter" slowly disappearing and having project managers, programmers, and more creatives and designers taking their place. Why the lack of copywriters, or writers in general? Wolff cites the rise of web video, the emphasis of visuals in advertising, and the numbing fact that consumers simply do not read anymore. People would rather look at pictures versus words in order to make a decision, and quickly.

Though a picture may be worth "a thousand words", it is easier to create a picture than to write a thousand words. 

Wolff would agree. Whether we like it or not, the advertising industry needs writers. The more writers, the better. 

USA Today is behind this too. It is offering $1 million dollars worth of free advertising if the copy is smart, appealing, and effective. Free.

However, as long as AdLand has had this problem, we doubt that a contest will end the "writer shortage." 

But it's a start.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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