Why copywriting is a bit like whoring

I think copywriting for ads is a bit like whoring. Writing is a talent that we can hone and get better at. And being good with words is kind of like being hot. It makes you desirable and your talent gives you an edge in certain situations (work, education, negotiations etc).

People who are good with words use their skill for various purposes. Some tell stories, some use words to spread information and so on. A copywriter writes for an audience and tells them that a certain product or service is great — not because he thinks it is great — but because he is being paid to convince people of something. He does not care for this thing. Perhaps he doesn’t even know much about it. Yet, he tells people it is awesome because that is what she is being paid to do.

You might say the whoring argument might apply to any job in the world. We do what we do for money, right? I would say that it only applies to work that depends on deception — work that involves lying to others. You might hate your job and the only reason you do it may be money, but unless it involves deceiving people into believing in lies, I would say your work is closer to slaving than whoring. I say slaving because it is more about you being forced to do something. The copywriter is obviously someone who enjoys writing and is very good at it.

The copywriter puts his talent to use by creating plausible lies. Essentially, he makes up stories and tells you things that he knows aren’t true. A storyteller, when he tells a story, isn’t trying to pass it off as fact. He is deliberately lying in order to convey a message. An advertising copywriter breaks that precious rule — he lies with the express intention of deceiving.

This is why we see ads that quote imaginary medical authorities (well-known models wearing lab coats), ads in which famous people lie about their choice of shampoo (or toilet soap, or deodorant, or wristwatch), ads which spout blatantly unscientific nonsense (mineral water with extra oxygen anyone?), and ads which defy basic ideas of context (swimsuit-clad hot girl in a cement ad).

I myself have been a copywriter, so this is not an attempt to insult an entire profession. I see more and more examples of true creativity in advertising with each passing year. What I am asking for is a culture where the copywriter is in a position to choose what he promotes. An advertising agency or professional who provides his services to things he likes and finds useful. True, not all ad people can go for such a model, but it would be nice to see at least some people doing this.

#copywriting, #whores, #whoring, #writing