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Letting words do the talking

28-February-2012
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Letting words do the talking

In a world where SMSes, chats and walls have compressed communication, the beauty of a well written copy in some quirky font is lost on an always wired generation. A twist on the tagline of a well-known pain reliever brand: “Copy ke liye time kahan?”

it is with some considerable zeal that Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Copy Controller at Ogilvy & Mather, has embarked on a mission to revive the near lost art of ‘copywriting’. The result is his initiative – ‘Put Headline Here’. Somewhat ironically, he is using social media to get his message across, Facebook to be precise (http://www.facebook.com/putheadlinehere).

In an interaction with exchange4media, Dasgupta explained, “Put Headline Here is a page that pays homage to great headlines around the world – old ones, new ones that are being written everyday. Because let’s face it, the more we get exposed to great writing, the better our writing becomes. I came up with this idea some three months back or so. I was in conversation with a colleague, and we were talking about how writing standards have dropped. You hardly get to read a copy ad now that really stands out.”

Continuing further, he said, “Put Headline Here was born out of a simple idea. If a writer had to go someplace to become a better writer, where would he go? What should he be exposed to? Where does one find the world’s best headline and copy ads? The answer stared at me in my face in 48 point size Helvetica – Put Headline Here.”

When asked whether copywriters as we knew them were an extinct species, he replied, “Perhaps. Of course, having said that, there’ll always be people who write copy. There’ll always be brochures and leaflets and ads. But if that’s what we copywriters are subjected to write for the rest of our lives, why extinct? We’d rather be dead!”

To bring copy back from the brink, Dasgupta is coming up with a contest – Longhand, which is a long copy competition that seeks to do two things. The first is to find the best long copy writer. Secondly, it aims to get people writing nicely crafted ads again. Through this contest, he hopes to get more people kicked about headlines. “I hope to see writer interns who don’t call themselves ‘ideators’ to sound cool. I hope to learn from many who will participate in this contest,” he added.

And to judge their efforts are none other than the masters of the craft themselves – Neil French, Nima D T Namchu, Satbir Singh, Ashish Chakravarty, Emmanuel Upputuru, Swapan Seth.

On using social media for this initiative, he said, “Since Put Headline Here was born on Facebook, so to speak, I’m letting it grow on Facebook too. On a good day, I spend about three to four hours uploading new stuff, sharing it [well, spamming people’s walls really] and exploring new Facebook apps I can take advantage of. On a bad day, I drink green apple vodka and Sprite!”

The contest will begin from March 10, that’s when people can start sending their entries. Last date for receiving entries is March 25.

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