Joanna Tidball


12 October 2015

Copywriting Conference 2015: our round-up of the day

Friday 9 October 2015 saw 150 copywriters gather at Haberdashers’ Hall for Copywriting Conference 2015. Here’s our summary of the day.

Those attending represented all walks of copywriting life: in-house copywriters from big brands and not-for-profit organisations, freelance copywriters, translators, agency writers and copywriters who’ve founded successful agencies of their own.

Spending the day with so many people with a shared interest in the power of words left me feeling inspired, refreshed and very definitely proud to call myself a copywriter.

Tweeting for a living: David Levin

First to take the stage was David Levin, creative director of That Lot, creator of The Dolphin Pub Twitter account and writer of pun-filled tweets that make people retweet-happy. He shared his experiences of tweeting for a living and threw in lots of examples of how humour and creative use of images can cut through the Twitter noise and get people’s attention.

David’s main message was that it’s important for brands to sound human and show some personality on Twitter. His closing advice to us all: be creative, be courageous.

Copywriting at the crossroads: Laura Jordan Bambach

Laura Jordan Bambach spoke about whether the craft of copywriting is less respected than it once was, with a focus on the field of advertising copywriting. She lamented the trend of ‘copywriting by committee’ – where copy can turn out strategically right, but with no personality – and made the case for agencies giving copywriters more space to produce copy that shines.  

Laura Jordan Bambach: 'Revel in being the copy geeks'

Laura Jordan Bambach: ‘Revel in being the copy geeks’

For anyone who does feel that copywriting ain’t what it used to be, Laura believes it’s in our hands to change the way the profession is seen. We should ‘rekindle our passion for copy’ and ‘revel in being the copy geeks’. Plenty of us took inspiration from that, even if there was a good amount of passion in our bellies already. 

A few examples of strong and effective creative copy that Laura pointed us towards: the This Girl Can campaign, all of the copy put out by Cards Against Humanity and this poster campaign from Dixons.

And how about this for an example of how powerful words can be: what3words can create an accurate address for anywhere in the world, using only three words.

Secrets of persuasive copywriting: Andy Maslen

The programme for this year’s conference allowed delegates to attend two out of four breakout sessions. ‘The secrets of persuasive copywriting’ with Andy Maslen was very popular.

Those secrets were quite appropriately kept well contained within the room’s four walls, but Andy has previously shared some of his expertise on our blog: Persuasive copywriting – how stories, emotions and the brain make decisions for us.

If you’re interested in learning more then Andy’s Persuasive Copywriting book will be an excellent buy.

Principles of UX for copywriters: Tim Fidgeon

Tim Fidgeon provided a very useful overview of what digital copywriters need to know about usability. 

Top insight: make navigation and link copy as ‘smelly’ as possible, to help users follow the information scent trail and get to where they want to go as quickly and effectively as possible.

How to write shareable content: Sue Keogh

Sue Keogh provided plenty of practical tips and tricks on her session on writing shareable content that works for different social media platforms. Keep an eye out on our blog for a detailed overview of Sue’s session, coming soon, but in the meantime here’s a little insight to whet your appetite: 

(Edited 13 October 2015: here’s Sue’s post on her shareable content breakout sessions).

Read Sue’s article: Creating shareable content – without reducing the quality.

Refresh your creativity: Liz Doig

What should copywriters do when their creativity takes an unplanned holiday? Liz Doig shared lots of ideas to shake things up and get the creative juices flowing again. Here’s one intriguing snippet:

Before you rush out to buy some brandy snaps, it’s probably sensible to read this great article that Liz wrote for us: Staying creative.

How to swear in your fucking marketing: Doug Kessler

Judging by the tweets coming through on #copycon15, the concluding session with Doug Kessler was the highlight of the day for many delegates. Doug’s talk was packed full of insights into the ways in which we swear (forensic linguist Jack Grieve’s swear maps of the USA were enlightening), how the brain processes swear words and the ways that brands have put swearing to good use.

Doug Kessler: Why the fuck would you swear in your marketing?

Doug Kessler: Why the fuck would you swear in your marketing?

A few notable examples: a sweary ad for smart forfour (not suitable for sensitive ears), Kmart’s Ship My Pants ad (a little bit safer), Brewdog’s response to an ASA ruling against its use of swear words, and Air Asia X’s Phuket poster. The key point to remember: don’t force it, but…

Read Doug’s article: Is it EVER okay to swear in marketing copy?

A word of thanks

As ever, we’re very grateful to everyone who came along, as well as Andrew Dec and his team, our sponsors and supporters (Policybee, IDM, CIPR, CMA and Acrolinx), all the staff at the venue and Absolute Audio Visual.

And a special thank you to everyone who tweeted from the conference, including those we’ve featured here. To see all of the Twitter action from the day, head over to #copycon15.

Here’s to 2016

As for next year’s Copywriting Conference – the date to put in your diary is Friday 6 October 2016.

  • Laura Jordan Bambach at Copywriting Conference 2015
  • Doug Kessler: Why the fuck would you swear in your marketing?

What do you think?

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Doug Kessler

October 12, 2015 at 3:42pm

Great summary of a buzzing event.
Thanks for the (fucking) mention.