Painting the Pig's Toenails

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Painting the Pig’s Toenails

When people find out I write ads for a living, they have lots of questions.

Mostly, they ache to know just how many martinis are acceptable at lunch, or whether I get to play Pac-Man at work (I am not making this up), or the ever popular, “Is it like Mad Men?”

But one day, I got a new one.

“Do you ever have to paint the pig’s toenails?”

It took me a moment to process what this guy was getting at. Sensing my confusion, he rephrased. “I wondered if, in advertising, you ever feel pressured to embellish? You know, stretch the truth a little. Paint the pig’s toenails.”

Unbelievable, I thought, both disturbed and disheartened at the idea that copywriters are expected, even encouraged, to deceive—when, in reality, I could get fired for that. And yet, it was another good reminder that, while being honest is paramount for most agencies, unethical ad people (and copywriters in particular) have given reason a-plenty to view our industry with suspicion.

Which is fair enough. Yet something still bothered me. So I dug deeper.

And I found it.

For any respectable ad agency, truth telling is essential, yes. But it’s like flour in a three-tier Italian crème cake: Indispensible, but not ultimately what the pastry chef wants her masterpiece defined by. “Amazing: She used flour!”

Likewise, good advertising will never deceive. But neither will it merely inform, as a news report might. As copywriters, we’re asked to do more. It’s our job to capture your interest. Engage your senses. Entertain. Delight. Inspire!

So no, I don’t get paid to be honest, clear, and true. I’m also expected to be imaginative, compelling, creative, and strategic. To work together with our entire creative team to make the magic that happens when a person connects with a brand—your brand—and thinks, They get me.

No pigs or nail polish required. Just good ideas. And lots of them.

At least, that’s the path GodwinGroup takes to build our clients’ brands—special brands we believe in and want to share with you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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