AD NAUSEAM: a copywriter's life


The guts, if not the glory

Posted in Uncategorized by CopyBlogger on the January 26th, 2012
"Impulse" packaging written for Brookstone. Click for product.

"Impulse" packaging written for Brookstone. Click for product.

A FACT OF LIFE for freelance writers is that they often end up doing scutwork – jobs the in-house copy staff doesn’t have the time, interest or specialization for. While a few creative gunslingers do indeed command exorbitant fees to saunter in and mastermind glamorous campaigns or high-pressure account pitches, many of us are just hired hands who chew away at backlogged projects that are the guts of the business. Sure, the work is unlikely to end up at the front of the portfolio – but at least it builds client relationships, not to mention cashflow.

Case in point: these samples from my 11 months freelancing at Brookstone.

Brookstone PR sheet -- click for product.

Brookstone PR sheet -- click for product.

Between February 2011 and January 2012, Brookstone gave me a quiet cubicle and a pleasing range of duties: writing feature bullets for in-store displays and packaging, doing press kits for new products, and performing open-heart surgery on literally thousands of product pages so that the manufacturers’ abominable Chinglish copy could somehow become credible and appealing.

Along the way I learned about the breathtaking number of ways that consumers can blow money on iPad/iPhone/iPod accessories – ranging from Nappa leather carrying cases and overengineered docking devices, to an armada of radio controlled toys you can operate via smartphone. And I also got to extoll the virtues of computer-controlled massage chairs, memory foam Swedish pillows, alarm clocks that roll just beyond your reach when you’re trying to hit the snooze button, $8,000 automatic watch winders, roguish hideaway home bars plus a slew of other costly faradiddles … all of which reminded me just how vital and imperative the instinct to “Amaze your friends” remains in us all, long after we give up comic books and our Marshall Brodien Magic Kit.

iPad accessories -- PR kit, Spring 2011

iPad accessories -- PR kit, Spring 2011

Looking through my files three weeks later, I see mountains of work that I would have a difficult time displaying to anyone except another wonkish copywriter. But I do have some very pretty paystubs to show for it.