I only learned of his death yesterday. Checking Ben Kay’s blog for a Friday frolic through his weekend links, I saw it. Ben’s post is a great tribute from a copywriter who had the good fortune to work for David Abbott. I wish I had but I learned a lot about the craft of copywriting by reading his ads. I used to pore over them in D&AD annuals, marveling at the intelligence, wit and humanity of his writing. By all accounts he was a prince of a creative director and remained a working copywriter at his own agency until the day he retired. There isn’t a pedestal high enough to do his legacy justice. You’ll just have to read his ads. I imagine he would have preferred that anyways.
I came across something on Jeff Kwiatek’s blog that struck a chord. He was writing about how little he cared about the business of advertising (specifically, the failed Omnicon/Publicis merger) and how much he cared about making really good ads. “Anything else makes me feel like my soul is being poisoned and that I’d be better off doing nothing than doing this.”
Yesterday was one of those dispiriting days. I’d written a couple of headlines I liked and a couple that were average but they’d do the job. The designers had half a day to lay the ads out and diddled away precious hours making something simple needlessly complex. The CD killed my lines. The client decided he wanted a little of everything in one ad. The whole process was a recipe for a turd. It made a warm bath and a sharp razor a tempting option.