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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.