Re-posted from the old and defunct A Pixel, A Vector, A Blog.
by Isaac Watson
In a recent issue of Communication Arts magazine, I found this article by Brian Howlett about the demise of appreciation for copywriting. It was, in two words, terribly depressing. Those who know me even peripherally know that I am a firm lover of words, language and all subtleties therein contained. While I do not pretend to be a master of words, I most definitely have an appreciation for them, and copywriters (and writers in general) invoke a certain degree of envy in me because I wish I could consistently produce the caliber of work that they do.
To acknowledge that copy’s role in advertising has suffered from increased emphasis on stunning visuals and a culture disinterested in language is a disservice to the advertising industry as a whole. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a small number of them can be instrumental in the direction of the audience toward that which is implied, be it through a four-word tag line or a paragraph of painstakingly-exacted prose. The two should work hand in hand to produce a remarkable ad that truly makes its message known.
There is no doubt in my mind that our culture (specifically that of the Western world) is diverging from the art of language with great speed. One need only look to the nearest teenage texter “2 C what im talkin about.” But do our latest advances in technology really demand the truncation of our words into base symbols? Must our increasing laziness be made so evident in our daily communication? I’ve heard it argued that this trend toward “txt spk” might actually be a good thing for the English language. The French youth have started to bastardize their language as well, spelling things out phonetically and dropping all of the nuances that make it such a beautiful language in the first place.
This article in the following issue of the same magazine addresses some of the same points, much to my agreement. It’s comforting to know that the degradation of language in our day and age is receiving so much attention in the world of design and advertising. I just hope that the message will get through to those who can make a difference in the fate of the written word.
As a graphic design student, avid blogger, and recreational writer, I will never underestimate the power of the written word to augment the meaning and emotion conveyed by an image. Some images may not warrant any muddying of their message, but I feel that words—and their careful crafting—will always have a place in our culture. And I know that I am not alone. Copywriting is not dead, but a beautiful struggle it is, indeed.