Guest Column: Longhand – Cheers to the long copy

The Longhand contest had quite a few creative heads going. Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, the man behind the mission, writes why this is just the beginning

e4m by Bodhisatwa Dasgupta
Updated: May 8, 2012 7:35 PM
Guest Column: Longhand – Cheers to the long copy

So Longhand, unpredictably, was a huge success. I hadn't expected it, and I don't think anyone other than my mother, my wife, my sister and my cat (four women in my life who think everything in the world will always work out for me, no matter the circumstances) expected it either.

The judges (each and every one of them) had a huge role to play at Longhand other than only judging. And that’s the beauty of it – they were involved all the time. From writing posters themselves to tweeting about it, talking to the entrants to educating me about the judging process – they gave Longhand a backbone.

I didn’t think I’d receive so many entries. And nobody else did too. Not only did we get hundreds from India, we got entries from New York, Canada and other cities from abroad. But that’s the great thing about a digital idea. If people connect to it, if people identify with it, it suddenly goes viral. People want to talk about it, people want to share it.

Suddenly you have absolutely no control over what’s happening. It starts getting a life of its own. That’s exactly what happened with Longhand. It was my baby, but slowly it developed its own face, its own character, and its own fans. As it comes to a lovely end, what with all the excellent coverage and response, I can't help but think about what Longhand achieved, if anything at all.

Here's what I think...Longhand revived something that was on the verge of dying out – good long copy. It put the words with weight back into motion again. And here's the thing; Longhand had little role to play in that. The talent was already out there, there were writers just waiting for an opportunity to write. Longhand just gave them a reason to. It gave drive to their passion.

Now, for the bigger picture as we advertising people like to call it.

Is this going to affect advertising? Will these affect clients who turn a blind eye to well crafted arguments?

Honestly, I don't know. But I hope so.

The purpose of Longhand was never to bring ‘long copy ads’ back into fashion. That's going to take a very long time, if it happens at all. What Longhand was trying to do was get people to admire/learn/polish the craft of writing. Today, writers hardly get an opportunity to write a long ad as clients don't need it. But If a client needs it, say tomorrow (hope the clients will wake up to it one day), then we now have a reference point and know how to go about it.

In the years to come, I hope clients too realise the potential of a ‘long copy ad’ as opposed to a ‘presenting’ ad. Judging from the response Longhand has got and continues to get, the future looks bright.

Click here to take a look at the winning entries of Longhand competition

The author is Creative Controller – Copy, Ogilvy & Mather, Delhi



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