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Original articles from Mona Sabbah.
Writer's Block Remedies and More: Creative Gifts for the Holidays
The holidays are right around the corner and everyone is running around trying to find that perfect gift for their loved ones. The stores are jam-packed with Christmas sweaters, gift baskets, toys, accessories, and more. But what do you get for the creative in your life? Be it your copywriter spouse, your best friend the best web designer, or an art director colleague, what do you gift? To make it a little easier on you, I’ve listed a few ideas that won’t be re-gifted...

Why Are Creatives So Damn Complicated?
When it comes to my life, I sometimes think Facebook nailed it best: It’s complicated. Interested in astrology, I thought I was the way I was because I’m a Cancer. Turns out it’s because I’m creative! Much has been said on the subject of creativity. From how to become a better creative to the top 10 ways to play with imagination to how to overcome writer’s block, the content is all out there. But how about the characteristics of a creative person? What makes us so different? What’s that magic about? According to Professor of Psychology and Management Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, it’s complexity. In his book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People, he describes the contradictory traits we possess. We’re both humble and proud, entrepreneurial and artsy...

The Pitfalls of Freelancing: I Swear, They Do Exist!
I’m not so sure working from home is all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, you get to escape traffic, dreaded office birthday parties, and politics...for the most part. In reality, is working from home or the local coffee shop really all that great? Yes; in theory, you can work in pajamas, but there’s no way you can conduct a Skype interview in your leopard fleece onesie. ​Breakfast and lunch are replaced with what I call grazing. A piece of cheese here, a yogurt there, baked chips (because you’re also not getting as much exercise as you thought you would), not to mention a caffeine intake that gets exponentially higher by the day.

Business Opportunities Are Everywhere
We all know how to sell, advertise, and promote through social media, marketing, and networking channels, but it turns out that wearing a good pair of sunglasses can be your ticket to new business. Case in point: This morning I was waiting in line at my favorite Starbucks when a woman complimented my black-and-white, cat-eye sunglasses. We started talking, and within minutes we exchanged business cards.

Can the Republican Presidential Debate be a Lesson In Marketing?
As I watched the Republican Presidential Debate last night, I couldn’t help but wonder: Have all the candidates forgotten the golden rule of marketing? (Sell the benefits, not the features.) It seemed everyone from Donald Trump to Carly Fiorina was determined to recite their resumes, i.e., their features. Now, I don’t know too much about politics, but it seems to me that the American people would rather know what candidates can do for them...

What If We Sold Bed Linens Like We Sell Video Games?
Time and time again, especially in the ad world, we are given or actually give the advice "Think outside the box." In other words: Be creative, be different, be daring. Yet even in our industry, we still follow certain rules. There’s a particular way to sell specific products, and we rarely step outside that box. Take, for example, makeup. Typically there’s a cover model involved, a product shot, a fancy headline that doesn’t say much, and an overall shine to the ad.

Print Isn't Six Feet Under, Just Interactive
They said print would die, but it seems like it might just be reborn. Neutrogena and advertising agency DM9DDB partnered up with Brazilian weekly Caras to take print to the next level. Since sampling the product typically helps drive up sales, the recent Caras issue offered Neutrogena’s Deep Clean wipes so readers can literally wipe the makeup off of the cover model. In this case, the cover girl was actress Giovanna Ewbank. You can see the magic trick here. We’ve been hearing it for years: Print is dead. Nobody reads anymore.

Sell the Good Night's Sleep, Not the Mattress
I’m sure you’ve heard that one before; you’re in advertising, after all. When it comes to selling products to millions, it’s always wiser to highlight the benefits instead of the features. That’s what the customer cares about most: what the product can do for them. On the other hand, clients tend to prefer the features, such as the 10-speed capability of a bike, the 32G of a smartphone...

Coca-Cola Reveals What's in a Name
Coca-Cola has done it again; they've launched a new interactive billboard in New York’s Times Square for their latest “Share a Coke” campaign. But before I talk about this latest effort, here’s a little background. At the heart of the campaign is the microsite Coke created with Google, with facts about 1,000 names that were printed on its cans and bottles this summer.

From Cry to Buy
I just read an article on DesignTaxi.com about the latest guerilla tactic from McCann Mexico and wanted to share with all of you. The advertising agency invited 100 women to cry as they watch Titanic. Why? To promote L’Oreal’s latest mascara campaign: The Waterproof Experience.

Writing Just Because
As a copywriter, I write every day. Subjects are random, deadlines are tight, and clients can get very demanding. From email blasts to content writing to traditional advertising, the writing is all work-related and can get tedious. Sometimes I need to write freely, without parameters, without judgment, without a deadline. Whether you’re suffering from writer’s block or just looking to write for the sake of writing, here are a few writing prompt ideas to open the creative floodgates. 1. There are plenty of websites that can motivate you to write, almost instantly.

Fear Not the Feedback
As creatives, we put ourselves out there every day. From feedback to criticism to having to make something pop a little more, it’s draining. But you and I know it’s part of the process. Without revisions and changes, the work can’t be approved. Without approval, there’s no publication, and without proof you have no portfolio. So how do you deal with feedback? Prepare for it; make peace with the fact that it’s part of working in advertising. Don’t take it personally and allow time for the back-and-forth dance you’ll have with the client.

TMI? Is Less Really More?
How much information is too much information? As a copywriter, I’m asked to write on a wide variety of subjects, from dentures to airlines to bull riding and nail fungus. Before starting a project, I’m in what I call the gathering phase. I’m trying to get information on the subject at hand. Sometimes I talk to clients, sometimes I review their past marketing materials, and other times I’ll interview colleagues. The key, I find, is to have the right questions, so as to uncover the right insights. Personally, I don’t stay in the gathering phase too long. I like to know enough, but not everything. If the project is a more creative one, say creating a television commercial or an entire print campaign...

It’s Not Me, It’s You: How To Fire a Client
Firing a client is kind of like a breakup. You procrastinate, hoping the relationship will change. You figure out different ways to express your needs, hoping you won’t have to be the dumper. You discuss your issues and try to work around them. But, alas, sometimes you just have to be brave and say “we should see other people.” So how do you fire a client, politely and amicably? First, you count your blessings that you’re in a position where...

Stress Less, Advertise More
Advertising can be stressful, but of course you already knew that. Besides long hours, traveling, and looming deadlines, creatives are always on the hunt for the next big idea. From an interesting insight to a dramatic headline to an intriguing visual, we're continuously searching, thinking, and, well…stressing. When your day-to-day revolves around so much thinking, it’s no wonder most creatives are a well-balanced mix of anxiety, curiosity, and nervousness. If bubble baths, kickboxing, or yoga aren't for you, here’s a list of other ways to unwind and appease these nerves. Guided imagery can help you de-stress. My favorite is the beach walk kind, where I listen as a soft voice accompanies me along sandy shores...

Copywriting: The Glass is Always Half Full
Copywriting makes everything better. You can say “99% fat-free” instead of “Only 1% fat.” You can be “delighted” instead of just “happy.” “Low-budget” becomes “Indie.” “Used" becomes "pre-owned,” and so on. In copywriting, the glass is always half full. But just like with any power, as a copywriter, you have to know when to pull back. Beware of overdoing it with your skills; you don’t want your headline to sound like someone slaved over it for hours. Just like with dancing, the audience — in your case, the reader — doesn’t want to see the effort. That’s what makes it so magical. So if it’s not what you say but how you say it, how do you say it really, really well? 1. Whatever the project, address it as if it’s no big deal.

Advertising by Committee: How Many People Do You Have to Please?
There are too many people to please when working in advertising. Lately, I’ve been working with bigger teams, even when I’m not on site. This environment is making me realize that creatives’ jobs are tougher in a way that many others’ aren’t. On any given project, an advertising team includes a variety of people from diverse disciplines. From account people to CDs, ACDs, designers, yourself, of course — and let’s not forget the client side.

Copywriting: There Are More Gigs Than Meet the Eye
This week, a potential client asked me if I wrote sales copy. My immediate thought was, “Isn’t all copywriting sales copy?” Besides being more of a creative person, sales is the main reason I got into copywriting. I was always great in sales. I grew up with an entrepreneurial father and mother that not only supported his efforts, but took them to the next level.

There Are Many Ways to Skin a Freelance Copywriter
As a freelance copywriter, how do you get business? I get this question a lot, both from clients and creatives alike. For a number of people, the ultimate goal is to work for themselves: their preferred hours, deadlines, and clients. Yes, experienced creatives have options. If the job description boasts “Are you passionate? Do you dream of being published?” it’s not for me and it shouldn’t be for you, either. After 12 years in AdLand...


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