only so many words can be read in sixty seconds

I am working with a newly-hired junior copywriter on some radio spots for a CPG company. She just showed me her first shot at the scripts and they are good, though they are about :60 too long.

At least I caught that early, unlike Ad Broad who has to deal with a whole bunch of copy being added after the fact. To a TV spot. Because her client was impatient. Sounds like a good day:

I spend most of today at an editing house, recutting a 60 second spot to hold an unfortunate 75 seconds of copy. It’s like trying to cram Rosie O’Donnell into Mary Kate Olsen’s jeans. The original copy is 167 words; the revised is 226. Why the extra 49 words? Because the client didn’t run the storyboard by DDMAC before it was shot.

Love the “cram Rosie into Mary Kate’s jeans” line, though the visual makes me a little ill.

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4 responses to “only so many words can be read in sixty seconds

  1. I’m curious what that junior’s book looked like. Did you have any input on hiring? Did you (or have you) even see the book? What do you think he/she needs to be taught the most to start contributing?

  2. I did not have a whole lot of input on this hiring, though I did see her book and interview her. We are small enough that most personnel decisions are made by our partner/ECD and CD. But her book was solid – print heavy with a good mix of pithy headlines and more robust copy and all focused on parity products.

    She was not entirely revolutionary in her work, but showed a good range and nothing was flat.

    Adding to that, she seemed willing and eager to learn, had a good recommendation from someone our ECD trusts, a lot of curiosity and we all liked her personally. Once you get your foot in the door it’s hard to underestimate just how much that matters.

    Brooding writers are not fun to work with. People with personality are fun to work with.

    I was being a little bit hard on her for the radio scripts because they were creative, if just too long (it is a common mistake; when you read a script with a stopwatch you have to be careful to over enunciate beyond what seems normal to make sure that your spot will really fit into that time…and don’t forget the legal lines have to fit too).

    Your question about what she needs to do to start contributing (at a higher level) is a good one. I will have to think about that…

  3. Much obliged for the clip and the callout, daily biz! Interesting post…it is surprising how few words sixty seconds can hold—or should hold—which is one of the first and hardest things for junior writers to learn. She’s lucky to be starting out with a good mentor. What the heck is a CPG company? Oh…consumer pkg goods? Does nothing not have an acronym these days? I heard full page ad called an FPA yesterday…I know it’s a spillover from IM-speak but sometimes I wonder if we really need to save the milliseconds it takes to say something in unadulterated English…

  4. It’s acronym after acronym these days – some briefs I have read recently replace actual sentences with a string of acronyms. And I do it too. You’re sort of a nobody until you have an acronym and can’t wait until this blog is referred to as the D(a)B.

    Or maybe I can wait…

    Thanks for the comment, and I am glad that you agree about the length of copy issue. It was certainly a hurdle for me when I started and it’s nice to know that I am not alone!

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