Monday, December 01, 2008

Murder Must Advertise



On the recommendation of Russell, I've been reading 'Murder Must Advertise', the 1933 novel by Dorothy L Sayers.

The plot features a mega-posh amateur detective called Lord Peter Wimsey, who goes undercover in an ad agency after one of the creatives gets murdered.

As one might expect, he finds copywriting terribly easy, and they're rather sorry to see him go once he's solved the murder. (I won't bore you with the details of the actual crime, or the laughable sub-plot concerning advertisement headlines being used as code for a gang of drug dealers).

But Sayers herself worked as a copywriter for seven years, and I was curious to see if any of the ad stuff would resonate today.

It does. Here are the words of warning that creative director Mr Hankin gives Lord Peter on his first day at the agency: "You'll soon find that the biggest obstacle to good advertising is the client."

1933, folks.

6 comments:

If This Is A Blog Then What's Christmas said...

"Lord Peter, you'll find your job a fucksight easier if you just read The YouTube Digest."

john w. said...

Instead of enticing clients with shiny shiny tinsel more work needs to be done showing them what happens at the coalface. I believe some agencies run role reversals with their clients. Not saying that it's a panacea but it's gotta help, hasn't it? I doubt that such initiatives was happening in 1933.

Anonymous said...

"Lord Peter, how should i put this? That idea sucks monkey dick, if i may be so bold sir!"

Bentos said...

I was going to wear my 'Clients are evil' t-shirt today but decided that would be immature.

Anonymous said...

john w,

That's an excellent point. The Creative Circle runs a Role Reversal seminar every September - 2 nights at Trinty College, Oxford where clients become creatives and vice versa. At best, we learn a lot more about eachother's jobs. The best clients actually do pretty good ads and they hate when you try and alter their work ("see, how do YOU like it?") It's an excellent 2 days and I'd urge people to get as many of their clients to attend as possible.

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