name: that girl in pink
location: Somewhere, India
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Monday, August 28, 2006

How advertising helped me improve my vocabulary.

Countless derivatives of the F word, 24 words for male and female private parts and an exhaustive list of regional language curse words: the last 5 years of being a copywriter have been nothing if not educational.

If it wasn’t for this profession I would never have learned to use the built in Microsoft Word thesaurus with the ease and flamboyance I now possess. Only unlike most users I’ve been trained to look for smaller and easier words to substitute a standard quality word. This is done so the copy fits into the 2 mm space the art director has assigned it in his layout and also so that it’s understood by Mrs. Santosh Kaur in Bhatinda.

The above restrictions have also helped hone my editing skills. The written word might be my best friend but I should not be shy of killing it when required. Like when a commercial originally intended to be 45 seconds long needs to be packed into 10 seconds. Or when 70% of the space of a print ad is reserved for dealer addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and two sets of emergency helpline numbers (for BSNL and non BSNL users). What if, God forbid, there is a washing machine related emergency at 2 in the morning? An Emergency Helpline Number becomes all important.

There are also certain buzz words that I’ve picked up in my tenure here, “buzz words” being a prime example. We advertising types love using jargon and you’ll frequently hear us discussing “genres” (pronounced 45 different ways), “stylize”, “esoteric”, “out of the box” and a hot favourite, “a for apple”. I can’t get into explaining what that last one means, but I’m sure all young writers and art directors have had that thrown in their faces at some time or the other.

While the above skills have contributed to my overall development, the biggest input of advertising has been to my repertoire (nope, did not pick this up in this industry) of cuss words. In the advertising industry joy, sorrow, disappointment, disgust or even plain boredom are all spelt with an F. Sometimes a lone F word doesn’t quite communicate our true feelings and then we enlist the help of another series of F words. That’s F for a ‘Family Members’ and a combination of the two is usually fairly effective.

We also realise the importance of staying true to the local flavour of the country and hence the stress of learning regional language gaalis. Let no one ever say that advertising in India is elitist and catering only to the educated snobs.

Truly, “learning on the job” has never been truer than in the case of this (insert adjective here) industry. Join us and learn from the wisdom of your ancestors. And while it may not pay as much or be as satisfying as other jobs, when you’re having a fuck all day, at least you’ll be able to express yourself.

Posted by that girl in pink  | 10:46 AM  |  47 comments  

47 Comments

at 11:51 AM Blogger Hyde said...

Surely, "a for apple" means "keep it simple, stupid"!

 
at 3:48 PM Blogger Sue said...

And just when you've gone and learnt how to express yourself, you go and have a baby and then can't communicate because you don't want a wee brat to use half the words you do.

It's particularly trying when V curses in traffic and I glare at him. I'm dying to say much the same, but can't, so why should he have the pleasure?

 
at 4:20 PM Blogger Quicksilver! said...

This is a fun read.
Though not part of advertising, as a writer I know all about editing *dramatic sigh*:))))) It's gotten so bad now that I unconsciously edit my conversations and expect to be paid for each word I utter! :))))))
Would have loved to read some of the cuss words…:))))) (hey! we can all hope, cant we!;))))

 
at 5:48 PM Blogger Fleiger said...

What's up with you advertising types? EVerybody's cribbing right now...

And as for cuss words in local languages, my friend has a principle, the first words he learns from any language are the cusswords... that way he can be well-versed with it, and express it well.

 
at 11:15 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well "expressed", Pink! You really need a break :)

-UrPublicist

 
at 3:06 PM Blogger Grey Shades said...

LOL! :) You need a career change now me thinks!

 
at 8:35 PM Blogger Essar said...

Very nice post Pink! Having worked as a journalist, I too have seen my vocabulary grow in "leaps and bounds" - F-wise or otherwise. Journo favourites are "thronged" , "melting pot" and a numerous others I have gladly forgotten having quit the profession 2 months back.

 
at 8:41 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

Hyde: unfortunately in advtg we don't like to keep things simple. just shows how stupid we are, eh? so if an ad is too simple or to the point or when your boss just doesn't like it and can't think of a rational reason to give you, he/she'll make a face and say, "it's too a for apple". grrr!!

sue: well, your baby isn't born yet so i'm sure you can curse freely, na? and after the baby arrives i don't think either V or you should be cursing!
and whenever your tongue is feeling terribly deprived, just come on over to blogger and let out a lots of expletives!

quicksilver: terrible eh? why can't we all just be vikram seths and get paid per word and then sit and write the world's longest books...imagine how rich we'd be!

fleiger: who else is cribbing? i'm sure that person works for my agency. here its company policy to crib! :)

thank you publicist, i think i need a permanent break from this place!

grey shades: i do, i really do! and i'm tired of bitching about it on my blog and not doing anything about it! sigh...

 
at 12:00 AM Blogger Fleiger said...

Now that's an insight on why the ads we have, are currently in the state they are ;) (details here)

 
at 9:15 AM Blogger silverine said...

LOL that was soo funny and so true. Thanks for dropping by... Another 'esoteric' word was 'lateral thinking' and yeah me too swear by the F word :p

Thanks Flieger for linking me, had a good laugh reading this one.

Cheerio!!!

 
at 10:52 AM Blogger Grey Shades said...

:) Yeah i know that feeling too. I used to do that until finally it got to a point where I had to change or i'd drop into professional oblivion.

 
at 2:22 PM Blogger lemontree said...

hey pink. neat post. adding from the planners list ... brainstorm (great example of two unrelated words coming together to form a word which means long hours, numerous cups of coffee and an acceptable way of postponing deadline on other pending work) , insight and ofcourse Buzz( yup, the sound musquitoes make .....)

ok, for the record this was a small post, so the next one should come sooner.

 
at 11:59 AM Blogger Nautilus said...

In our times the "esoteric" word among copywriters used to be "paradigm shift"...and now its "a for apple"?! My, how times change :-)

 
at 1:40 PM Blogger Hyde said...

My sympathies.

 
at 11:59 AM Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Considering the free education one gets on the job, I think I want to be a copywriter in my next life :-)

 
at 1:04 PM Blogger Essar said...

Pink's publicist? Who are you - and why are you anonymous?

 
at 12:29 PM Blogger indianpeppone said...

That was f***ing f***....f***! so many f***ing memories f***ing in.

 
at 12:49 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

fleiger:thanks for the link!

silverine:lateral thinking, of course! the curse of all creative type people!

grey shades:what did you do? what are you doing now?

lemontree:brainstorm - ha ha! and you have some cheek asking for a new entry after being Missing In Action for almost month!

nautilius: you were a copywriter?

hyde:thank you hyde!

ghostoftomjoad: be careful what you wish for...

essar: my publicist is one of my closest friends and biggest supports!
publicist, come and make yourself heard!

indianpeppone:what the f?? :)

 
at 9:47 PM Anonymous Fleiger said...

No comments on other parts of comment? ;) (like the state of industry and all)

Anyways, what is the meaning of "A for Apple"? (I am sure I am going to fail miserably in advertising industry)

 
at 10:41 AM Blogger Grey Shades said...

Used to be in tech now in consulting but think i'm getting bored of this too now!

 
at 11:25 AM Anonymous chandni said...

I would probably say how actively seeking out cuss words has improvd my vocab....

Glad to find someone who seems to be totally unapologetic abt using cuss words like me....it is so satisfying and so much fun!!!!

 
at 1:32 PM Blogger Arthur Quiller Couch said...

If you can cuss well and fluently, you have lived. Been a long time since I heard truly creative cussing.

 
at 7:19 PM Blogger ichatteralot said...

As far as my reserach goes, the introduction of the F word in advertizing day to day lingo was pioneered by some supposedly brilliant copy writers about 20 years back in HTA! Another thing I noticed was ppl dont sit on chairs - they sit on desks or on people's laps :)

 
at 9:50 AM Anonymous A said...

Hahaha...awesome read...
Atleast you know how to use MS word and excel very well...here in the software industry we don't know that either. And the plethora of F words in your vocab is invaluable knowledge! Keep it fresh - the F word is so f***ing versatile it's unf***king believable :)

 
at 7:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

When is the next one coming up?

-UrPublicist

 
at 2:26 AM Blogger Deepali said...

I await an update - all is well I hope :)

 
at 3:20 AM Blogger Deepali said...

oh oh btw you've been tagged!

 
at 9:34 AM Blogger lemontree said...

hey pink
this post is way past the expiry date. now hurry please.

 
at 10:37 AM Blogger lemontree said...

if u don't update soon it won't be nice.

 
at 1:16 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

i know, i know! i will, i promise!

 
at 3:55 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

does a for apple mean going back to the basics.. or utilising universally understandable concepts.. :) the curiosity is killing me.. please do go in to elaborate :)

 
at 11:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! It's October!!!! You owe all of us lots of reading...

-UrPublicist

 
at 11:55 PM Blogger If I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya said...

Ok so its been way too long...Please post again. I miss it.

The F word can express a whole range of emotions like no other word. You name it - delight, sorrow, anger, frustration, irritation, sexual ecstacy, or lack thereof...ALL OF IT...isn't it an amazing word?

 
at 10:05 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've been gone a looooooooooong while lady! :( Pyase ko itna bhi na tarsao ki woh paani ki pyas hi bhool jaye...

 
at 4:42 PM Blogger that girl in pink said...

has anyone hear had the worst writer's block ever?
it's happening to me! only in my case, its a blogger's block.
trying my best to snap out of it but...aaargh!

i can't even write a decent apology note. i've really lost it. sniff.

 
at 2:10 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ur apology scrap is NOT accepted. Update the blog, NOW!!!!

- UrPublicist

 
at 4:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What good has advertising done to your vocabulary if u hvnt updated ur blog since August?

-UrPublicist

 
at 2:27 AM Blogger Quicksilver! said...

I hope you are feeling on top of the world after depriving us poor souls of a new post from the PAST 2 MONTHS! *sulks*

 
at 10:57 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should jus put up a "Gone for good. And not coming back!" sign here! :P

 
at 3:24 PM Blogger Arunima said...

never been into advertising but can so relate to it. haha

I had fuck of a time reading this fucking piece.

Fuck it fuck it!!:-)

 
at 5:30 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

`a for apple'?

so when its too complicated, what do you say?

 
at 10:02 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pink, come on!!! this is ur burde month... you HAVE to update your blog. Please - you owe it to us, your loyal readers :)

- UrPublicist

 
at 11:23 AM Blogger Quicksilver! said...

*Walks in. Sticks out tongue at The girl in Pink and walks out muttering "STILL no post!!*

 
at 5:44 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have no idea how you'll keep your job if you have a writers block for so long.. i mean u work in advertising for chrissakes.. should we swap vocations?

 
at 1:13 AM Blogger that girl in pink said...

all those harsh barbs and tongue wagglings really hurt so i've shaken myself out of my comfortable lazy state and posted something.

gosh, you guys can be harsh! :)

 
at 10:43 AM Blogger zelle said...

Hi! I saw ur link from Kusum's post. i love ur post! i can actually relate. i also work for an advertising firm here in the Philippines. :)

 
at 7:21 AM Blogger zelle said...

hi pink! i used to be in New Business Department and im bored there...i enjoy client service more! its like a battle front. sure it has its downside too but i enjoy meeting lots of people, planning and implementing projects.

btw, great ads owe it to the copywriters, art and creative directors!

 

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