Thursday, July 2, 2009

?! Press: On Advertising


It’s easier to write ten passably effective sonnets than one effective advertisement. -Aldous Huxley

Together, Julya Theodossopoulos and I made these 27 limited edition chapbooks entitled, "On Advertising," containing an excerpt from my current work-in-progress Poets and Killers: A Life in Advertising. In an effort to explore the effects of advertising on our lives and personalities, and to interrogate how advertising effects our ability to genuinely express emotions through language, Poets and Killers tells a man’s life story through found poems composed entirely of advertising text. The book begins with poems composed of ads from the 1940s when the character is born, and moves through time with him, ending with poems composed from ads from 2009 when he dies. The project also contains several poems composed from ads advertising advertisement space, and from books about advertising. Each chapbook has its own unique cover, made from a full-page advertisement from the fashion magazine Arena Homme. Thanks to Jordan Grant for the page layout and for staving off all other computational disasters. Thanks to Julya for um... doing most of the things that made these look good.

From Poets and Killers:

On Advertising:
The cult of ‘creativity’

Good writing is slavery.
If it doesn’t sell it isn’t creative.
You won’t find ‘creativity’ in the 12-volume Oxford Dictionary.
Do you think it means originality?
Originality is the most dangerous word in advertising
Preoccupied with originality, copywriters pursue something
as illusory as swamp fire.
Mozart said, “I have never made the slightest effort
to compose anything original.”
This takes courage because you will be accused of not being
‘creative.’
I occasionally use the hideous word creative myself
for lack of a better.
Creativity strikes me as a high-falutin word for the work
I have to do between now and Tuesday.

I’m not saying that charming, witty and warm copy won’t sell.
But let’s say you walk in this office and talk to me,
and you sit in that chair. Now, what do you want out of me?
Fine writing? Do you want masterpieces? Do you want glowing things
that can be framed by copywriters?
Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve
stop moving down
and start moving up?

Make the product the hero of your advertising.
If you think the product is too dull, I have news for you:
there are no dull products,
only dull writers.

Few copywriters are ambitious.
It doesn’t occur to them that if they tried hard enough
they might make themselves famous.
Most good copywriters fall into two categories. Poets. And killers.
Poets see an ad as an end.
Killers as a means to an end.
If you are both killer and poet,

you get rich.


To hear me reading this and other poems from Poets and Killers at the June 2009 flywheel reading series, check out: http://calgaryspokenword.podbean.com/2009/06/23/helen-hajnoczky-june-fly-wheel/
(Just keep scrolling down... it's there)

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