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Q. For a trainee copywriter which is better as a first job - small agency with exposure to multiple roles or big agency with multiple clients?

Sue Patten

The question is an important one. Where do you wish to take your talents in the future?

If you know deep down, then persue the opportunities that would allow you to practice it. If not, then I strongly suggest the small company. The smaller companies tend to expose you to multiple roles, which can frustrate some people. However, if you are up for that challenge, then the role changes can greatly increase your skills and your portfolio, leading to many more opportunities to select from in the future.

Alan Eggleston

If what you want more than anything else in the world is to be a copywriter, join the big agency and immerse yourself in the role. But if there's a chance you want copywriting to lead to other things, join the small agency and learn what the team is all about and what the different functions and roles are. Maybe you don't really want to be a copywriter, maybe you want to be an art director or an account executive or a principal. The best way to lead is to know as much about the team as possible and how to help everyone perform together. Or maybe you don't want the agency life at all, and working in a small agency will make the transition to the outside world (and other work) a lot easier.

Katie Levitt

I've never worked for a big agency, only small. But I've worked with people who've been with JWT, Ogilvy, and others around the world. Their collective thoughts were big agencies were a great place to start when you're young - when tons of stress + tons of hours tend to fit in with the lifestyle.

I chose small, because I started a family early and didn't want to be working until 3am every night.

The other thing they didn't like was working all year - only to lose internal creative pitches (against other teams on the same account) - and not have any work see the light of day.

At the small agency, you'll definitely get stuff out the door - even if it doesn't win at Cannes.

So maybe the best solution is to go for big clients - not necessarily big shops? There are plenty of boutique-y agencies with big-name clients out there.


Q. Is less more when it comes to Graphic Design?

'Bex White, Graphic Designer

In general, less can be more - classic clean design always looks good but the real questions should always be what will fulfill the clients' needs - rather than what looks good. What suits one purpose and industry does not work for another - a beautiful design which is not engaging to the audience or does not fullfil the piece's objective is as bad as an ugly design... Graphic design has artistic elements but it isnt art, there is no books on what the piece means or tour guides explaining it by the work in a gallery - the most clever and obscure personal art can work - but this isn't a sensible approach to graphic design.

Graphic design it is a form of communication which has to be easily understood by the target audience.
Less may well be more in general and for communications from businesses and other professional bodies it is appropriate - but what if you are designing for an online auction site? Social Networking site? Or gambling establistment? Those users expect a much more cluttered and loud/fun design - your client may want to stand out by using a completely different design - but they may want something familiar and expected by the target user...

Another aspect to consider is that the world of graphic design is subject to trends and fashions as much as any industry - if the client wants an up to the minute look, and that happens to be messy and cluttered then less would not be more... similarly if the client has a brand and materials already which are cluttered and busy then the new material will have to fit in to a certain extent with those - 'the customer is always right' can also trump the designers ideas for a slick clean design and it is the customer we are working for.


Q. Most advertising & communications companies seem to be championing the digital cause - Has digital really arrived in India? Or is this just an attempt to look future-ready?

Asked by Rahul Jauhari


Sanjay Kumar

“Slowly but surely Digital is getting omnipresent in our life, almost Orwellian. And if the eyeballs are there, neatly sieved by demographics, every marketer would want to be on the digital bandwagon. But a complete shift to Digital is still not on for most products, at least not till we all shift away from a world dominated by Microsoft to one where Google prevails.”


Q. Is it time to give the long-copy ad a long overdue burial?


Ruchita Puri
Executive Director, S&R: Works: Film & Media Studio

Long Copy ads are passe. Sure.
However, I sympathize with the Services industry: Hotels, insurance, banks, airlines..etc that need to share larger information chunks through advertising...

It depends on two factors:
1. Environment: A magazine ad not as much read as a newspaper ad...Magazine is more to do with visibilty...newspaper more info...

2. Creatives: To be able to share long copy in short copy...editing that copy and being witty about it.

I feel that wit has definitely left India but for certain campaigns: Tata tea and Amway are my favourites this season.


Fran Paikoff
Owner, Just In Time Marketing

You realize that we live in a visual world. Yes it is hard not to overplay the copy, but unless it is a technical Business Product. We have to find better descriptions in shorter verses.


Erik Deckers
Director of Sales and Marketing at VisionDirect

No. Long copy still works very well and has a better response rate than short copy and postcards/visual ads. In fact, as awful marketing copy, bad writing, and spam continue to bug people, the long copy letter is becoming a more effective way of communicating. Long copy needs to stay put.


Chris Jones
Owner, Brown Hornet Design, Inc.

Hmmm... both are right. It's good to ask the question but it should be in context. Alfred Hitchcock used to say that the length of a movie should be in proportion to a man's bladder... But epics like Apocalypse Now wer like four hours long... So it really depends on the story as well as the audience.

Most people believe that it's impossible to use long copy in today's market. The amount of marketing messages (4 times that of the eighties according to a book called Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything) has increased to the point that to keep up we "scan" instead of read.

But we still do read. The key is the copy has to work even harder to deliver a salient story. Graphics can't always do it all. We still need stories. We still need writing. We just need them to work together and not be some formula like as if it's a bartender's drink option.


Asit Gupta
Experienced Strategic Marketeer. China, India, Russia, UK experience

The issue is not about long vs short copy..its about advertising as a tool to effectively and efficiently drive business/sales. Consumers happily spend hours researching products reading long product reviews written by other users. These reviews are long but are far from being as "evocative" as the much admired long copy ads of yore. They are more factual and informative.

Description and detail is necessary in certain categories and consumers seek it, but not necessarily in the form of an ad. It can be via a mailer, brochure, website etc.

In summary, the need to express a product or service's benefit in an impactful and engaging manner via description and detail is still relevant in certain categories. The most effective and efficient medium to carry the message may no longer be advertising.


Hal Goodtree
Writer, Producer, Web 2.0 Dude

Long copy still has it's uses.

I remember a clever campaign for Bushmills that paired small space ads in magazines with clever long copy. It was very effective for them. Just a picture and a headline in a small space would have been lost within the book.

The trick to long copy is to make it worth reading. As always, just sticking the marketing on the page is a snore.


Greg Christensen
Copywriter at Y&R Chicago

"People read what interests them. Sometimes it's an ad." - Howard Gossage.

Long copy isn't dull or uninteresting by nature. But the way it's typically written and laid out makes it that way.

To say "long copy doesn't work" is to unneccessarily cut ourselves off from a creative avenue that might work.


Yoel Calek
Owner, Strategic Minds - International Business Development and Creative Marketing Specialist

Let not the long copy ad lie
Sell not a short copy sham or scam
Tell a story that sells a truth
Write the right thing right
- in the time and space it takes
And your reader will readily, verily, let you know



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