Having worked as an entertainment copywriter for just about every network, studio and record company in Hollywood, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day deadlines. Sometimes it’s good to step back and take a look at the big picture.
1. Respect the artist.
Whether it’s Sofia Coppola’s new film, a re-release of a classic Disney cartoon, or a Beyonce CD, your work as a copywriter does not just sell a product; it introduces a work of art to the world. Your vision, your ideas, your voice, your concepts, your words can make the difference between lackluster or blockbuster sales. Between an artist hanging his perfectly blow-dried head in failure or being seen and heard by millions.
Back in pre-historic times at Capitol Records, I fell in love with a song called “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by a then-unknown band, Crowded House. Despite it being one of The. Best. Songs. Ever, MTV was indifferent. Radio would not play it. It was about to be buried.
Frustrated, but unwilling to fail, the marketing team and I spent endless hours coming up with an (admittedly genius) campaign to promote the single. Suddenly, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” shot to the top of the charts and the band exploded.
Was our campaign the difference between failure and success? Maybe, maybe not.
However, respecting, knowing and understanding the artist and believing the song was more than a “product” made a difference; and hopefully, added an unforgettable tune to the soundtrack of our lives.
2. Say no sometimes.
If you don’t like the project, don’t take the job. It never turns out well. Exactly why I politely say no to Star Trek or any show where people have big ears on other planets.
3. Explore copy options. Then explore more copy options.
Unlike non-entertainment clients who want to see 3-5 comps, entertainment clients prefer at least 8-10. I once wrote ONE THOUSAND copy lines for one home video release. [No, this client and I no longer speak.]
Deadlines are notoriously tight, so do as much varied exploration upfront as possible. Try every angle and attitude, while still staying true to the studio and artist’s brand identity.
4. Short copy is good. Long copy is bad.
Lissa Walker, copywriter, lives and works in Los Angeles where, among other things, she writes entertainment copy for clients including AMC, Disney, NBC, HBO, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.