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Subject Name: Copywriting

Audience: Aspiring Creatives, Account or Brand Managers

or anyone whose work in marketing
communication requires creative writing skills

Pre-requisites: Two years relevant work experience in

marketing, advertising, media, PR, production
or design, or

Completion of Account Management course, or

Completion of Understanding the Creative

Process. or

Completion of AFA AdSchool Foundation plus 2

years relevant work experience

Year/Semester: 2006

General Description:
This subject introduces aspiring copywriters or people in the marketing
communication industry who need to be able to write creatively, to
the art and disciplines of selling via the written and spoken word. The
course requires sound knowledge of the Marketing communications
industry. It will cover all aspects of print, radio, television and the
Internet, and offers practical development of writing skills for these

Students will learn techniques for creating and developing ideas,

exploring and improving their writing skills, working alone or with an
art director, creating and structuring the emotional appeals and
intellectual disciplines used by copywriters, and how to analyse and
respond to the creative brief.

Course Objectives:

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

By the end of this course, students will have:

1. Developed their written communications skills to an appropriate

level for professional copywriting
2. Used clear, concise and imaginative language in advertising
3. Explored the link between copywriting and creative development
4. Learned to recognise and use different creative expressions,
directions and genres in advertising
5. Learned the disciplines involved in editing and judging their own
6. Learned the basics of effective presentation
7. Have practised effective copywriting

Course Content:

Week 1 Introduction

What is ‘’copywriting”?
Where does it fit into the creative process of advertising?
Why is it different to just ‘writing’?
How to recognise good copywriting
Obtaining, exploring and interrogating a brief
Writing exercises

Week 2 Working in advertising

Working with an art director vs. working alone
Who takes care of what - clients and agency people
Market research, consumer research and advertising research
Presenting your work
Writing exercises

Week 3 Ideas
What is an idea in advertising terms?
How do you have/find/discover/develop a relevant idea?
Ideas versus executions
Visual ideas versus written ideas
‘Cut through’ – what is it and how do you get it?
Originality and inspiration vs. perspiration and plagiarism
Writing exercises

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

Week 4 Writing Sound
Radio: the theatre of the mind
Establishing characters, stories, mood and emotion
Voices, music and sound effects
Cut through (again)
Actors versus voice-overs
TV/Film Soundtracks: makers and breakers
Information: how much is too much?
Writing exercises

Week 5 Writing TV and Cinema

Narrative/Story Telling/Dialogue
Script structure
Voice-over versus ‘100%’
Storyboards and scripts
Sticking to 15, 30, 45 and 60 seconds and still making it work
Cliches, stereotypes and ethics
Supers, branding and ‘take out’
Writing exercises

Week 6 Writing Print (including internet, posters, brochures,

direct mail, point of sale, packaging and all the ways you talk to an
audience via the written word)
Thinking and writing clearly
What do you want to say?
How do you want to say it?
Persuasion vs. ‘sell’
Spelling, grammar, colloquialisms and slang
‘Tone of voice’

Long versus short versus no copy
Magazine ads versus newspaper ads

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

Writing exercises

Week 7 Responding to the Creative Brief (Major

The brief
Interrogating the brief
What do we want the ad to do?
Who are we talking to?
What do we want them to do?
How to start work
Thought starters
Getting ‘the big idea’
Interrogating your idea
Writing exercises

Week 8 Why writing matters

Why words work
Advertising: the art of compression
Great writers/great persuaders
Speaking in tongues: Tell me what I don’t know in terms that I do
Finding your voice
Fear of the blank page: overcoming blocks
Conviction: if you don’t believe it, why should they?
Different ways with words: propaganda/jargon/just give me the
talgia:a million ways to say ‘buy this’
Learning to look at the way people listen
Running on empty: how to keep writing when you don’t think you can
Writing exercises

Week 9 Review
Presentation skills: nurse ‘em, rehearse ‘em
Selling yourself/Selling your work
Looking back
Work in Progress – the assignment - anything missing?
When in doubt, ask
Feedback: tell us what you need/don’t need
Read, read, read: the answer is (probably) in the book

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

Week 10 Presentation of assignments

Week 11 Examination

Please note that order of session topics may change

Teaching & Learning Strategies

Each lecture is accompanied by intensive individual and group creative
work involving writing exercises, the development of concepts and the
written execution of these concepts. Specific topics will be addressed
by guest lecturers from the advertising industry who are experts in
their particular fields. As these guest lecturers have a heavy schedule
of commitments, replacements may occur at short notice.


Assessment Item 1: Written response to weekly assignments

Assessment Value: 30%
Due Date: Weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

A weekly assignment will be briefed from Week 1, as follows:

1: Find an advertisement you like or hate and discuss (a) the creative
idea and (b) how the copywriting succeeds or fails in conveying that

2: Write a print ad about yourself in order to attract an art director to

work with you

3: Transcribe a radio commercial you like or hate into script format.

Identify the idea/creative approach and then rewrite it in as many
ways as you can, e.g.
dialogue/narrative/humour/drama/testimonial/invented characters,
with or without sound effects and music.

4. Develop magazine, newspaper, poster, internet and small space

print advertisement copy in answer to a specific brief.
5. Develop a television/cinema script in answer to a specific brief
6. Take all your previous assignments and rewrite your copy for
other media, e.g. radio script into newspaper or outdoor copy;
print copy into tv or cinema script; tv/cinema script into a print

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

Assessment Evaluation Criteria
Each assignment is given a mark out of 35. The final mark will reflect
the best 3 of the six assignments submitted by each student assessed
as follows:

Relevance (understanding of the brief)
Impact (cut through)

Assessment Item 2: Major Assignment & Class Presentation

Assessment Value: 50%
Due Date: Week 10

The major project work involves the creation of written scripts and
copy for a television commercial, a radio commercial, a long-copy print
ad and anything else that you feel contributes to your campaign. You
can choose to team up with another course member and present a
combined assignment or you can do it on your own. You will all receive
the same brief and work from the same base of information. The client
will be revealed on receipt of the brief. You are to present this work to
the class and/or judging panel and hand in a hard copy to the
lecturer. If you want to you can accompany your scripts and copy with
a storyboard or layouts, but the focus is to be on your written
response to the brief.

Assessment Evaluation Criteria

Students’ major assignment will be assessed on the following criteria:

Assessment Item 3: Examination

Assessment Value: 20%
Due Date: Week 11

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

The final exam provides students with a list of questions, from which
they have to answer a given number. Questions involving specific
knowledge of class notes or nominated texts are worth a maximum of
two marks. Questions involving a creative response to a brief are
worth a maximum of five marks. Answers are marked on accuracy and
recall when a specific topic or text is referred to. Creative writing
questions are marked on the same criteria as weekly and major

This is a graded course. All assessment tasks must be completed and
submitted and a satisfactory level overall must be achieved to pass.
Assessment grades and final grades in the course will be High
Distinction / Distinction / Credit / Pass / Fail.

Grading Descriptors

High Work of outstanding quality on all objectives of the

Distinction: course, which may be demonstrated by means of
creativity, craft skills, interpretation of the brief and
clarity of thought, understanding of the value of
creative writing and how it relates to social issues,
personal and industry research and how is applied
in advertising. This grade may also be given to
recognise particular originality of creative
expression and intellectual insight.
Distinction: Work of superior quality on all objectives,
demonstrating innovative ideas, a high level of craft
skills, understanding of the brief; creative selectivity
and expression.
Credit: Work of good quality showing more than
satisfactory achievement on all objectives, or work
of superior creativity on most of the objectives of
the course.
Pass: Work showing a satisfactory achievement on the
overall objectives of the course.
Fail: Unsatisfactory performance in one or more
objectives of the course as contained within the
assessment items.

Fail (less than 50%), Pass (50%-64%), Credit (65%-74%), Distinction

(75%-84%), High Distinction (over 85%)

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

Minimum Course Requirements
Students are required to attend a minimum of 7 out of 10 classes and
notify the lecturer of any absences.


Aitchison, J, 1999: Cutting Edge Advertising: How to Create the

World’s Best Print For Brands In The 21st Century, Prentice Hall,

Aitchison, J 2001: Cutting Edge Commercials; How to Create the

World’s Best Tv Ads For Brands In The 21st Century Prentice Hall, New

Burton, P.W. 1999: Advertising Copywriting 7th Edition, NTC Business

Books, Lincolnwood, Ill.

Designers And Art Directors Association 1999: The Copy Book.

Rotovision, S.A. (And Any Other D&Ad Publications, U.K. Available
From Two De Force Or Foliograph Books)

Fowles, J 1996: Advertising And Popular Culture - Sage Publications,

Thousand Oaks, Ca.

One Club for Art & Copy (N.Y.): The One Show Annual of advertising’s
best print, radio and TV, Two de Force or Foliograph Books

Pricken, M, 2002: Creative Advertising; Ideas And Techniques From

The World’s Best Campaigns Thames & Hudson, London

Eats. Shoots & Leaves: Lynne Truss, Profile Books

Weasel Words, Don Watson: Knopf

The Style Manual, Commonwealth Government Publishing Service

The Lyrics of Noel Coward, Mandarin Books (London): Try Amazon

com. , second hand bookshops or any out-of-print search service

Advice to Writers, Jon Winokur: Pavilion Books Limited, London

Lend Me Your Ears, Great Speeches in History: Willianm Safire, WW

Norton & Company, New Yorik & London

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting

Any book on Dorothy Parker’s poems, essays and articles: (try Penguin
Books or

Troublesome Words: Bill Bryson, Penguin Books

Oxford University Press reference books (Dictionaries, Quotations)

Roget’s Thesaurus

Collected Poems, Judith Wright: Angus & Roberston (try second hand
bookshoops e.g. Berkelouw’s) or look for more recent editions.

Their words are music; the Great Theatre Lyricists and their Lyrics:
Lehmann Engel Crown, U.K. Try 2nd hand bookshops/search services

ANY SONGS WITH LYRICS BY: Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Ira
Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, Dorothy Fields,
Oscar Hammerstein II

 AFA AdSchool – Copywriting