If I had had more time I would have written less


There is a quote which I like to run out, ad nauseam. Almost to the point where I’ve invented its origin in my head. You know what I mean. You say something so much that the story around it is total fact in your head. And when you bore people with it, you say it so emphatically and with such utter belief that people believe you without a whiff of doubt.

So what is it?

Well I say it’s this ‘ If I had had more time I would have written less’ 

I love it.

It’s a contradiction in terms. But for me, one of the great truths in advertising.

You see, word-smithing is an art (I’m doing my best here, but I haven’t got a lot of time!)

The longer a piece of prose is, the longer a story goes on, the more likely people will lose interest.

The digital world is proof of this.

This means they never get to the end of the story and so that indelible print is nowhere to be seen.

In one ear out the other.

Almost, without doubt, the best advertising, particularly print, outdoor and digital is simple, insightful, knowing and to the point.

Please prove me wrong if you can. There are always some anomalies. A minor whiff as it were!

So below are some examples, old and new and urr, some obvious.

This Girl Can - I kick balls. Deal with it

Attitude, confidence, inspiration AND part of a bigger campaign.

McDonald's recruitment advertising campaign

VW Polo ad

Hello Boys

Not a particularly original choice. But still brilliant.

Donald Trump The Economist Ad Campaign

This is a great example. Simple, you could list a whole host of reasons why Toupée Trump would be wrong, but it all boils down to one salient point. So say it!

Have a break - KitKat

Some campaigns have such longevity and breadth that the longer they live in the public psyche, the shorter the more pithy the lines can become.

This old chestnut, great play on words. Get to the nub of the problem immediately.

Labour isn't working advertising campaign

Some of them don’t even have words in…

Mercedes advertising campaign

I wonder if when Mercedes briefed the agency, they told the account man, “You’ve got as long as you want on this brief!” In fact they had so long arguing back and forth over a line with the client that they ended up with nothing!

And here we have lots of words. But the point here, is the quality of the copy, there are no free riders, there is no wastage, every word is working to its max.
This is ‘craft’.  It ebbs and flows and your left in no doubt what the voice of Wales feels like.

Visit Wales Advertising Campaign

But what about the origin of that saying I hear you say? Get to the point, practise what you preach Mr blogger man!

I tell people it’s Samuel Pepys. They nod sagely. Hmm, bloke in London in the 17thC.

He wrote ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. I guess that kinda fits.

Well I googled this bad boy. And I got nowhere.

Blaise Pascal is cited as saying something similar, as is Churchill and Cicero.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter. It can be anybody, the fact is, if you apply this logic to your working life in the ad world, you’ll do well.

Just make sure you have enough time.

Triumph - Lurpak advertising campaign

Nothing to say here.

What next?

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Author: Adam Fausset

Adam is the Client Services Director at AB, responsible for a wide range of accounts, including Flybe and Paignton Zoo. He has held senior roles at Wieden + Kennedy London and Ogilvy. He champions the importance of brand voice and consistency of communication and insists on a very high standard of creative thinking and believes the secret to brilliant, effective work is simplicity and being utterly single-minded.


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