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June 25, 2015
Advertising Isn’t Business. It’s War.
Our industry isn’t violent, but our jargon sure is
After many years working as an advertising copywriter, I’ve finally figured out that we aren’t trying to merely persuade people to buy a product or service. We’re locked in a battle for minds and wallets. This isn’t the “Cola Wars.” This is a much, much more intense fight.
At least, that’s how many people in the advertising business talk about it.
Let’s start with your basic ad. (Assuming you don’t think advertising is dead.) It’s not enough to have an original idea, or a brilliant headline, or eye-catching visuals. They have to be killer. Some people strive produce killer ads. But not all ads are killers. Some are merely hard-hitting. If it’s a hard-hitting ad, it’s not necessarily killer. And ads with copy consisting of mostly bullets don’t tend to be killers.
Of course, you may come up with killer ideas that get killed by your boss or your client at any point in time for reasons you’re never told. So you may decide to fall on your sword for those killer ideas, which if it goes badly may be a career killer.
If you come up with a killer idea that everyone thinks ought to be executed, you may be asked to blow it out. And hopefully your campaign will be so successful it’ll blow up. Then people will say you’re killin’ it at your job.
But the carnage doesn’t stop there.
Art directors are told to kill their widows and orphans at all costs. Copywriters are told to kill their darlings. Account people need to make sure the client doesn’t kill the recommended idea if it’s on brief and nails the target. Media people need to place executions. Analytics people dive deep and mine for actionable nuggets of data they can deploy.
We’re all looking to hit our targets with breakthrough, killer executions. Or are we? Remember, these aren’t necessarily rules of engagement. But if we’re going to nail the target, we need to lock and load.
Oh, so you don’t think we need to use this kind of violent language when we talk about something as mundane as advertising or marketing? I agree. Let’s discuss it later — down the hall in our War Room.

This is just one of the epic buckets of content I ideated. Help me monetize a deliverable by reading more in my new book, “Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks: An Outside-the-Box Look at Advertising and Marketing Jargon,” available for just $4.50 on Amazon.

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Since 2002, Dan Goldgeier has been writing the most provocative advertising columns about advertising and marketing -- over 170 of them, covering every related topic you can think of. Now based in Seattle, Dan is a copywriter and ad school graduate who's worked at shops big and small. 

Visit his copywriting websitesee his LinkedIn profile or follow him on Twitter.

And please, buy his book for 99 cents.


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