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A Copywriter’s Blog
Copywriter, not ©er Ben Levy 28, September

3 Jews walk into a bar.

Actually, it was significantly more than three, and they were sitting around a table, but “50 Jews gather in the synagogue’s conference hall for the annual Kosher Chinese food Eat and Greet” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Anyhow, 3 Jews were talking about what they do for a living. It all started because one said “I really wanted to go to that beer tasting event, but I worked 80 hours that week, so it wasn’t happening.” Which is the sort of thing that someone in advertising regularly says, and none of his advertising buddies think twice about it.

“Oh” said The Accountant, “what is it that you do that has you working 80 hours a week?”

“Ah- well, I’m an Advertising Copywriter,” says The Copywriter. And silently he adds: Please get it.

The Accountant gets a funny look on his face “Oh, so you deal with patents and things?”

The Copywriter sighs inwardly.

“No, no,” interrupts The Lawyer “he’s a copywriter. Y’know, like a writer.” The Copywriter nods vigorously while shoveling rice into his mouth.

“So you copyright ads? Like slogans?” asks The Accountant

“Yes.” Wow, that was easy to explain, thinks The Copywriter. They never get it that fast.

“So someone comes up with a slogan, and then you make sure it can’t be taken by someone else?”

The Copywriter fights a sudden urge to smack himself in the forehead. “No, I’m a writer. I write ads. TV commercials, websites, radio scripts, slogans- all that stuff.”

“Yeah,” says The Lawyer, “like Mad Men.”

The Accountant digests this, unlike the Chinese food. “But what are you copying?”

The conversation goes around and around in The Copywriter’s private, profession-themed rendition of “Who’s on First”. It isn’t the first time he’s had to explain this. He’s grateful for The Lawyer, who is helping. And for Mad Men, which has made such discussions significantly shorter. “I’m Don Draper” while at first a confusing statement, has in fact proven much easier to explain then “I’m an Advertising Copywriter”.

The funny thing about all this is that while he’s explaining it, The Copywriter is getting a little embarrassed. The fact is, advertising is one of the coolest jobs in the world, and he doesn’t want to rub it in The Lawyer or The Accountant’s face. There’s no shame in those professions- hell, The Copywriter’s grandfather was an accountant- but come on. This is Don Draper you’re talking to. Sort of.

And so even though he’s gotten everyone on the same page, and they understand that he “writes copy”, but doesn’t “copyright”, The Copywriter is keeping intentionally vague about what it is he does. He doesn’t want to brag. So when The Lawyer asks what brands The Copywriter works on, he half mumbles “couple of beverages” and tries to change the topic.

But it slowly dawns on him that The Lawyer and The Accountant feel sorry for him. They don’t fully understand what he does, but they know 80 hours a week sucks, and they imagine the job must suck. And The Copywriter decides “You know what? Fuck it. I’m talking to a lawyer and an accountant, and I can probably hit a doctor just by tossing a chopstick. I’m damn well going to brag a little about what I do.”

And that’s how The Copywriter ends up explaining that his job is about concepting. And writing. And yes sometimes he stays late. He also wears jeans to work, and takes part in nigh-holy foosball tournaments. And it’s true that Ad Guys tend to drink a lot- yes like Mad Men. And no, The Copywriter doesn’t sleep with a new co-worker each week, but he’s married so you’ll have to ask someone else what the inter-office intercourse numbers are like, he stays out of it. And yes, when he says “concepting” The Copywriter essentially means “sit around and think up awesome shit all day”. And then for good measure The Copywriter goes on to list half a dozen brands he’s worked on in the last year, sitting around and (trying) to think up awesome shit for, all of which are recognized by The Accountant and The Lawyer.

So 3 Jews sit at a table in the synagogue’s conference hall for the annual Kosher Chinese food Eat and Greet. There is silence for a moment, and then The Lawyer says “Wow. Your job sounds pretty cool.” And The Accountant says “Yeah. The only people who drink at my job are alcoholics.”

And The Copywriter feels a little bad, but also a little proud. Because The Lawyer and The Accountant clearly like their jobs, so they’ll be fine. And it’s about time someone knew how awesome it is to be a copywriter. As opposed to a ©er, which honestly sounds like just about the most boring job on the planet, and is not at all what The Copywriter does for a living.

The Copywriter wishes to apologize for writing this entire post in a whacked-out version of the third person, but this is the sort of thing that happens when he posts after reading half a book that has parts of itself written in a whacked-out third person. Plus he hasn’t eaten much today and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Yom Kippur: No Post Today Ben Levy 27, September

Praying for my immortal soul. Not that I think my immortal soul is more important than entertaining a portion of the internet for five minutes. Actually, hang on- yes. Yes I do think that.

But don’t feel bad. I also think it’s more important than working. Or eating.

And I like eating.

To those who observe- may you have an easy fast, and be inscribed in the book of life. To the rest of you- kindly eat your twinkies somewhere else for the next 30 hours.

Post on Tuesday.

The original version of this video is a horrible travesty. A crime against nature and marketing that frankly makes this PR-abortion look positively genius by comparison. I will not post it here, but you can watch it at your own risk.

That is why I am only showing you the tastefully edited version. I think we can all agree that the gentlemen responsible for protecting our delicate sensibilities in this way deserves some sort of medal.

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You Don’t Know Me (I Hope) Ben Levy 20, September

I hope we haven’t met. I really do. Because if we have met, I don’t remember you. And of course I should.

I have a terrible memory for names. I don’t even hear introductions anymore. I hear: “Hi I’m -” then everything blacks out for a second, followed by “-it’s a pleasure to meet you”. And I’m nodding, and smiling, and shaking hands, and cracking jokes, and praying harder than a pedophile rapist on the day of judgement that no one comes along and asks me who my new friend is.

In fact, I’d say the only thing I have a harder time remembering than names are faces. Which shouldn’t be possible. I’m so bad at remembering faces that instead I identify people by hairstyles and outfits. This is a problem because I’m not meeting cartoons, and real peoples’ hairstyles and outfits often change. I regularly introduce myself to women I’m sure I’ve never met, only to discover we spoke at length the day before. It’s just that between then and now they’ve put their hair up in a bun.

This is an issue because The Wife and I moved a few months ago. And that means we’ve been meeting a lot of new people. All of whom insist on changing their clothes and hair. And I don’t recognize any of them. This has the unfortunate side effect of making me never want to introduce myself to anyone, due to the paralyzing fear that I’ve already met them and will look like an idiot. Instead, I constantly stare at everyone attempting to imagine them in different clothes while simultaneously avoiding all of their eyes so they don’t have a reason to greet me. In other words, I look like an ass who’s actively ignoring people the day after I’ve met them.

And that is why I hope we haven’t met. If we have, please forgive me. It’s not that you’re uninteresting, or unattractive, or unimportant. It’s just that you’ve changed your shirt.

Friday Feature: Science! Ben Levy 18, September


Study: Multiple Stab Wounds May Be Harmful To Monkeys

This should be shown to every research funding approval board everywhere. And to monkeys.

The Sidearm of Creativity Ben Levy 13, September

I have tried for the better part of a year to write this post. It’s very, very important to me. It’s about Nerf.

Nerf guns back in the day were pretty cool. They were guns. They shot foam darts. Since I had a younger brother, such devices were invaluable. They weren’t perfect- the darts, arrows, and balls often fell short, and the suction cup ammo never stuck to anything really. But the fact is that they were weapons whose very purpose was to deploy bright, foamy death at range. Like I said- pretty cool.

Fast forward about ten years.

Your standard Nerf firearm is the Maverick: a 6-shot, single-action revolver that fires over 30 feet with enough force to adhere a suction dart onto anything from a painted wall to your co-worker’s shiny forehead. The Maverick’s cousin is the Recon. The box will tell you it’s cool cause you can customize it by adding a barrel, a light, and a stock. Which I guess is cool. If you’re a girl. The Recon is really cool because it’s the foam-firing equivalent of a machine pistol. Single-action, clip-loading death. Oh, and they make this thing called the Vulcan. It’s a 25-round machine gun. The ammo comes on a belt. You can wear it as a bandolier.

I’m talking about toys here people. Toy makers, take note: if I have to use the nomenclature of an arms dealer to describe your product, you are doing something right.

I don’t remember exactly when I rediscovered Nerf. It was sort of like discovering the girl you shared cookies and milk with in kindergarten but haven’t seen since has grown up to become a playboy centerfold and she just moved back into town and totally remembers you from Mrs. DiMattio’s class and thinks the two of you should go out some time. (Best metaphor I’ve ever written? Or best metaphor EVER?)

The point was, I had grown up, and so had Nerf guns. Particularly pleasing to me was the fact that, somewhere along the way, the Nerf Maverick had become the sidearm of creativity.

This isn’t really new. I remember being ten years old and watching some stupid “meet the animator” interview on Cartoon Network. This guy is standing there with an old school Nerf Bow and Arrow. And he looks right in the camera and says “I wanted a job where I never had to wear a tie, and I felt like I was playing all day”. Then a dart whizzed by his head and he dove for cover under a desk. At dinner that night I told my parents I was going to be an animator.

It’s still true today. Nerf shows up everywhere. Comic creators use them. Game developers and animators leave them on their desks during interviews. And then there’s these guys.

They’re in agencies too. I think every creative person understands that there are times we will become stuck. Or we’ll take ourselves too seriously. Or – heaven forbid- we might have a moment where we feel like we’re growing up. And that’s why we keep Nerf around. I know of no faster, more foolproof way to fix all of those problems then a neon foam dart between the eyes of a co-worker. It works every time.

But just to be safe, I’ll plug them with the remaining five darts too.

He’s a Perfectionist. Ben Levy 11, September

Happy Friday!

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I’ve discussed this before. This time it’s the sad state of water guns that has me wishing for the toys of yore.

For a week or two I was planning on taking part in a massive NYC water gun fight. It was supposed to be a huge affair, and I looked forward to the chance to wax nostalgic and wet. One problem. I couldn’t find a suitable firearm.

Just researching the options made me depressed. What the hell happened to Super Soakers? In my day that was some shit you could depend on. The 30 (orange little one). The 50 (standard yellow one). I think my family’s personal liquid-based armory went as high as 100 (rifle-sized blue one), but there were kids on the block rocking that backpack set-up. You bring any of those to a fight, and people know you mean business.

super-soaker-50

Now? Now these things look like B-movie sci-fi prop whose sole offensive ability is making an opponent laugh hard enough to pee themselves. What the hell is this?

hasbro_supersoakerflashflood

I can barely tell which way to point that piece of crap. Seriously, Larami? This is what you’ve let the Super Soaker line devolve into? I’d rather drink a gallon of grape juice and pee on my opponent than bring that to a water gun fight. It would be more respectful to both of us.

This hurts twice as much because Larami made my 90’s era liquid-launching pride and joy. I can’t find an image of it, but it’s easy to describe: My gun was a Desert Eagle. It took 3 AA batteries, and the water container actually loaded into the handle where a real gun’s magazine would go. Aside from the fact that it was made of bright blue plastic with hot orange highlights (ok, so maybe the colors have always been horrible) it was as perfect a replica as any kid would want. And the power.

This gun liquified paint at 9 feet. Sure, the magazine was small, requiring way more fill-ups then your standard neighborhood Super Soaker. Didn’t matter. It raised welts through a Hanes t-shirt. Like Tony Stark and his father before him, I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. And baby, this was it.

While those other pussies were pumping their Supers, I held the trigger and laughed like a maniac as they scrambled for cover. And that was what I intended to do this past weekend. Do you know how many battery operated waterguns I could find online? One. One gun. And nobody seems to stock it anymore. Seems it’s too dangerous.

Really? Dangerous? Aside from drowning and using a toaster in the bathtub, water is pretty damn impossible to hurt yourself with. If your kid is so incompetent as to get permanently damaged in a water gun fight, I think it’s time to place the blame on something other than the weapon. Just count the score as Darwin: 1, Your Gene Pool: 0, and hurry the kid along to the inevitable conclusion. Better luck next time.

And as far as Larami and the rest of the water gun community goes, you guys need to step it up. If this is the best we’ve got out there, it’s no wonder child obesity is up. Who the hell wants to go outside and play with that shit?

That’s right. I said it: Larami’s Weak Sauce Soakers cause child obesity. You read it here first.

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This Clip Never Gets Old Ben Levy 4, September

Still. Funny.

Also, if you haven’t, please go here, sign in, and vote for my SXSW panel. Today’s the last day. Then you’ll never have to hear me whine about it again.

Unless I don’t get in. THEN I’LL WHINE FOREVER.

But it’s totally up to you.

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