The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi – Book Review

Bradley Walker
16 April 2012
Book Review

Iezzi Gives Accurate Portrayal of Modern Ad Industry in The Idea Writers

The Idea Writers, Teressa Iezzi’s book published in December 2010, gives copywriters, aspiring creatives and industry newcomers a unique perspective on the advertising industry and its rapid growth over time. Iezzi’s focus is on the evolving role of copywriters in the ad creation process, but she also explains the dynamic roles of every position in an ad agency, from art directors and copywriters to media buyers, account planners, technologists and digital producers. Industry professionals had a good idea of the roles they needed to play before the internet age came about, but with technology improving at a rapid rate and the increased importance placed on the consumer, brands and agencies need to find ways to become more creative and stand out among a highly cluttered media landscape.

Using insight from advertising professionals at some of the most distinguished agencies in the world, which include TBWA/Chiat Day, CP+B, BBDO, Mother New York, Wieden & Kennedy, Droga5, the Barbarian Group, Saatchi&Saatchi and many more, Iezzi is able to explain the importance of brand creativity in a consumer-oriented culture. She wants to make clear that a copywriter’s role has expanded beyond writing headlines and copy for television, print and radio ads. Agencies need to keep pace with the technological advancements of the time, and with this in mind it’s important for ad professionals to understand the transition of the industry and what they need to do to keep brands in the front of consumer’s minds.

Iezzi does a great job of explaining the importance of copywriters as content creators, idea generators and visionaries. She reinforces the need for professionals who can tell stories and develop engaging content that will have an emotional connection with consumers. It’s no longer about touting product attributes and USP’s, but a growing need to think like your target market and find out what moves them. One thing I really liked about this book was the use of actual brand campaigns and the stories that some of these agency heads shared. Hearing the creative process from some very well-known ad professionals gave the book added credibility, especially hearing it straight from the minds of creatives and the like. I always thought creatives were geniuses that never generated a bad idea, but reading the campaign stories made me realize that out of 100 bad ideas they churn out only about one or two are worthy of making it to the production phase.

Another aspect of this book that resonated with me was the idea of not looking at advertisements as simply ads. Ideas should be able to transcend different media outlets, and more importantly solve a problem for the consumer. It’s interesting, thought-provoking content that makes a consumer to want to share a piece of content with a friend, or hundreds of friends via social media. If the advertisement is creative, engaging, and relevant to someone’s life, it will spread like a wildfire. Consumers will share the content, talk about it on blogs and create the online buzz that is crucial for any given product.

One other recurring theme throughout the book is the transition from traditional adverting to the digital realm. Iezzi made a good point by saying that agencies that are reluctant to change with the times have become obsolete, and are no longer dominant in today’s advertising landscape. The industry is sprawling with smaller agencies and digital production companies that are just as capable as larger agencies to do quality work for their clients. A lot of these up-and-coming companies are focusing more on advertising in the digital space, and two digitally focused campaigns that come to mind were Burger King’s Subservient Chicken video and BMW’s groundbreaking BMW films campaign. Both are great examples from the book that not only highlight the effectiveness of brand engagement in the digital realm, but exemplify the type of work that copywriters are doing today.

One day a copywriter could be working with acclaimed screen writers on scripts and back stories for a brand’s miniseries, and the next they could be writing up different commands that users would ask a subservient chicken to follow. The main idea taken from this point is coincidentally the title of chapter four in this book. Digital is not a channel. It is a platform with endless opportunities to reach consumers where they spend a lot of their time, on the web.

An overarching theme in Iezzi’s book is a growing trend toward a more collaborative environment in advertising agencies. The creative team is not the only team that can lead the charge for creative ideas. They can come from anywhere and anyone, and Iezzi along with the professionals she interviewed emphasized the importance of sharing ideas and encouraging an organic culture in an agency setting. For so long the industry accepted copywriters and art directors as the main collaborative team for ad creation, but the focus today is more on using each individual’s particular strengths toward the big idea that can be expanded and built upon.

As far as Iezzi’s writing style, her tone is very witty, sharp and conversational. Her use of language made her arguments and opinions seem more genuine, and it made for a very enjoyable reading experience. I really liked the contrast between Iezzi’s writing and the various excerpts that were taken from industry professionals. The book itself had a very personal feel, which was surprising because I thought it would be a trade focused book that would’ve reminded me of reading a textbook. I would recommend this book to anyone who has any particular interest in advertising. You don’t have to be an ad professional to appreciate the inspiration behind the many ad campaigns that are examined throughout this book.

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