The New Yorker, iPhones, and Experimentation

Here’s a video of a cover for The New Yorker created on an iPhone.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1827871374

Consider how much detail the artist puts into what is eventually obscured. He makes a nice little crosswalk, a cue, and a couple taxis. Then covers them up with a hot dog stand and silhouettes in the foreground. That doesn’t mean he was wasting his time.
I’ve seen a lot of portfolio students resist experimentation with tag lines, headlines, certain visuals and even media because they didn’t think they’d be necessary. They have an idea of what the ad should be, so they stop working as soon as all their requirements are met.
The truth is you won’t know if your ad needs a tag line until you’ve spent some serious time coming up with a sheet of the best lines you can write. And as much as you love that visual you came up with, you’ll never know if it’s the best until you try to come up with at least three that are even better.
Put in the time and effort to paint that crosswalk and those taxis. Who cares if they’re covered up? It doesn’t mean you wasted your time. It only makes the finished piece better.

Perfect Copy vs. Perfect Art Direction

When I was a student, they copywriters had an entire semester dedicated to body copy. With good reason. It’s a dying art. But one copywriters should dedicate time to learn.

I remember a friend of mine (it was the blog’s co-author, as a matter of fact) had written a very nice piece of body copy. It flowed. It had rhythm. There was a cadence to it. (Always read your copy aloud after you’ve written it.) He really crafted it.

Then he gave it to his art director. It wasn’t fitting her layout, so without him knowing she contracted all the should nots to shouldn’ts, and eliminated some of the words that seemed repetitive. Short conversational lines seemed superfluous and were eliminated.

So who was right? The copywriter who wanted the copy to be as good as possible? Or the art director who wanted to layout to be as good as possible?

Call to Action

This is going to sound heretical, but bear with me:

When you lay out a campaign, ask yourself where you could put the web address and an 800 number.

I’m amazed at the number of student ads I see that fail to include a call to action. This isn’t about making the logo bigger, or junking up the work. It’s about doing the right thing.

Sometimes web addresses and 800 numbers make more sense than others. If you do an ad for a car or a brand name soda, probably not. But for a small product or service most people haven’t heard of it makes sense. There are no rules. Just use your judgement.

A web address or an 800 number, tastefully added shows that you can turn commerce into art.

It shows that you know the purpose of the ad is to get people to act.

And it will make a student ad look and feel more like a professional one.