There was a time when reading ads was a pleasure. We could enjoy an intelligent twist of phrase, smile at a clever use of words, and get amazed by the wordsmithery of a writer passionate about the product and the consumer whom he was trying to sell it to.

It was a time when names like Mohammed Khan, Chris Rosario, Neil Johnson, Alok Nanda, Freddy Birdy, Swapan Seth and many other witty and brilliant people challenged themselves to entertain our audiences and enrich our industry with intellectual and literary value.

Admittedly, things are quite different today. While advertising has become slicker, and budgets have become bigger, unfortunately the art of writing has all but disappeared.

Headlines, Taglines, Bodycopy (err, um… what’s bodycopy?) are no longer as classy, dramatic or influential as before. What we get to see today, is more often than not unedited, and reeks of the thoughtless ramblings of immature minds, amateur creatives, lazy bosses, and ignorant clients.

As a copy trainee (yes, I was trained to write copy, unlike the keyboard wielding wannabes of today) I learnt about the 3 different ways you can use headlines:

  • You can used headlines to target the Brain of your consumer (expect to attract the consumer, and expect to attract a good raise for yourself)
  • Alternately, you can Baffle, or Bullshit your consumer (expect a short burst of sales, but then expect a rocket to burst up your ars*)

Unfortunately, in an attempt to be ‘cool and creative’ a lot of writers today are doing the latter, without even realising it.

Some top of mind classics of today, which will go down in the annals of history (pun intended):

  • Isko Laga Dala toh life Jingalala! Cannot crystallize your product promise? use Birdy Num Num… Or in this case, Jingalala. Yes, the same as in those scary, naked men who danced in the background of Helen aunty’s songs – meaningless and gross!
  • Whatta top ka is my world, is my music, is my P***i. I actually had to look this one up on their website to check if it was actually what I was seeing on TV – in fact, I’m still not sure I’ve got it right! Yes, this dyslexic schizophrenic arrangement of words is their headline or tagline… or something!
  • The (car name here) is like a powerful Olympic athlete. Heart pounding, muscles pumping, impatient for red to turn to green. Don’t make it wait. This was one of the headlines in a 3 ad campaign for a top car brand in India. The writer obviously knows nothing about athletes, has never driven a car, and probably lives in Delhi coz he’s encouraging people to jump the light!

Look around you today… there’s more such pedantic, pedestrian writers with delusionary assumptions of greatness, churning out such asinine classics every day!

Which brings me back to my question… Where have all the writers gone??!


  1. Guess what.. I got so irritated with the “WHATTA TOP” Ad that I decided to do google the line before I post my resentment on my blog.. And I saw your post…

    My thoughts exactly.. Am not into Advertising or anything.. but as a normal viewer/potential customer, i find these Ads uninspired and lost, to say the least…

    Many of the Ads these remind me of the Mad Ad competitions at College.. Aimed at getting cheap slapstick laughs rather than convey any tangible meaning… Even the fevicol Ads that used to lace good messages with humour have gone for the bizzare with the new Alien Ad.

    One Ad that struck the right cord with me was one where a man finds a 500 rupee note in a lonely park… but after a lot of thinking, decides not to take it.. because he cannot bend down to pick it up due to back pain… and then the brand name is shown… hilarious and to the point..

  2. Sorry to spam you with comments but I’m really enjoying your posts! I looked up the Whatta Top Ka ad and found it online – appalling and hilarious all at once! Guess I gotta catch up on the ‘bumbaiyya’, kya? =)

  3. noshtradamus, good post. but you know what? a copywriter is not always responsible for a crappy line (he should never be, but he does). inputs from the account’s guy and most importantly the client ruin the picture, if not always but more often.

    you know that well and everyone in this industry knows it. no wonder, there’s so much of scam work around us today.

    give copywriting a chance! peace.

  4. thank you mephistopheles!

    i agree with you on the fact that everyone in the team is responsible for what comes out eventually. so yes, the copywriter cannot take all the blame.

    however, i am also referring to the kind of crap turned out by qualified and supposedly “good writers” in high positions who either a) bully their teams/clients to get their ads through, or b) are actually the ones with the last word on creative in the agency.

    i have seen enough bad writers become creative directors, and enough clients who don’t know any better!

    i stand by my belief that we have more bad writers than good ones, more ignorant clients than enlightened ones!

    and that’s why we see more crap than gold 🙂


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