Poetry and Copy: A Marvellous Match

Today’s Google Doodle celebrate’s the life and work of poet Mascha Kaléko whose poetry of everyday life has been celebrated throughout the twenty-first century.

In response to Nazi suppression of her collections in 1930s Berlin, the poet emigrated to the United States and set up home in Manhattan with her husband and baby son. 1.

As a proverbial poor poet, Masha wrote advertising copy and jingles to generate an income for the family, not the first poet or author to do so. A thorough search for any existing ad work revealed zero hits and it got me thinking about attitudes to the two forms: poetry and advertising copy. Is there an underlying assumption that a poet doing commercial and media work represents something of a sell out?

I hope not. In the poetry world alone in Britain and Ireland several treasured characters worked across various media. W. H. Auden took up employment with the GPO Documentary Film Unit for a while, penning and reciting the famous words of ‘The Night Mail’. Our own magical Louis MacNeice worked for the BBC over several years, again on documentaries, unfortunately suffering an untimely passing from pneumonia after an outdoor radio recording session. Seamus Heaney made documentary programmes as well, for schools broadcasts and for RTÉ.

Poets as copywriters

Television documentaries are one thing, but marketing ads might be seen as quite another. Not so. Susan Elliott Brown describes her love of both occupations she holds down – a poet by night and a copywriter by day.

Digging deep into the common ground of attention-holding succinctness, impactfulness and the cypher-like qualities of both forms of writing, her article is a treat. Describing the work of a number of contemporary poet-copywriters, several poetry-copy commonalities emerge:

  • the first few words or lines are crucial
  • every word matters
  • speaker voice is essential
  • sound and image must work together
  • emotion and connection are core qualities

Finally, the post presents a few engaging video examples of recent years that were scripted by working, published American poets. I found the nurse training video ad effective and moving; not too sure about the truck one! (just my personal taste), although the attributes are all there; Levi’s ‘Go Forth’? –the jury’s out. Then again, even the fact that these productions call up mixed responses attests to their impact. I hope they are of interest, I’d love to have some suggestions for more.

To round off, I’m shamelessly adding a link to my all time top ad. While it wasn’t made yesterday and has also drawn a mixture of admiration and criticism, it does something to my heartstrings and I never tire of watching it! While not an actual poem, it is iconic like it’s brand and has a central element of a song, whose lyrics get the message across in ‘perfect harmony’ with the imagery.

Enjoy the real thing!

Citations and sources: 1. Masha’s Biography at Jewish Women’s Archive. “Mascha Kaléko .” (Viewed on September 16, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/kal-ko-mascha>

Book image: amazon.co.uk


Time Taming for Work-Life Balance

Citatiion for work-life balance image: Jack Moreh on freerangephotos.com

I just posted an article about how to deal with procrastination and writer’s block over on my creative writing blog. Perhaps the tips and techniques I unearthed during my research for that post would be of benefit to small business owners and freelancers?

Does that same self-punishing paradox, of wanting to make the best use of time while fretting torturously about wasting it, plague many crafters, workers and small business owners? I’d guess so, including myself. Procrastination is my middle name!

Alongside those creative writing tips, I have added a more business-time-management spin, with a few more resources I found for free download that are aimed at work-life balance for the busy, stretched solopreneur or SME executive. Note that there are many digital tools free online, but these examples here are all printable for hand writing in your plans, something I personally find is a refreshing and effective way to get motivated and creative.

This weekly planner from Sombras Blancas Design is such a find – I’m using it to visualise and plan the bigger picture, finding that it creates a link between my longer term goals and my daily task list.

The momentum planner by Productive Flourishing fills another essential gap in moving from goals to actions, with three separate versions for days, weeks and months. One of the most interesting strategies here is to realise the different levels of detail required for each time level, and to use action words (verbs) at the most immediate daily task level.

Finally, here’s another daily balancer but one with a difference and I think this is my favourite so far. From Investigative Designer, Dave Sri Seah, there is a distinctive emphasis on scheduling in relxation and recreation as well as work, all as part of your daily routines. Using coloured ‘balancing bubbles’ the whole thing is more fun, and that seems to be a key ingredient in work and in life – have fun!

Movie Magic

As creativity and culture editor Britanny Kiefer of Campaign Magazine reveals this week, Cinemas are emerging from Covid lockdown as cautiously as most, yet are keen to re-enchant their audiences with a magical experience, while at the same time keeping them safe from infection and compliant with social distancing guidelines.

image of social distancing feet floor stickerThe public, however, remain wary of indoor social spaces, so cinemas, like bars and restaurants, need stringent risk mitigation strategies before thinking about a fully operational programme. With all that in place though, and with the new one-metre-plus rule, attendance is estimated (optimistically) to reach around 50% of pre-pandemic levels.

Understanding audience motivation is crucial for cinema designers and planners, while audience member experience is at the core of all event success (or otherwise). Taking this into account, there is still ample scope for movie theatres to turn on the magic of the movies by attending to a few fundamental features of the film viewer’s experience.


Firstly, strong content is essential.

A number of big budget, high attraction films like the recently completed Dune remake and the latest Bond movie have delayed their release dates in hopes of  a decent attendance.


Secondly, luxury and comfort are big.

VIP seating and quality food experiences are noted as strong factors acting on the pre-pandemic rise in cinema going in the UK. This would create an added safety dimension on top of seating breaks and wider aisles.

Finally, an emotional hit.

Evidence emerging from wider qualitative studies among audiences at film, music and book festivals (up until the Covid lockdown) reveals the ways in which they appeal to customers in helping to fulfill their deep need for escape, their high hopes for inspiration and imagination, and as fuel for their loftiest dreams.

image of red curtain and plush seats in movie theatre

Furthermore, the atmospherics.

Coupled with the sense of ‘togetherness’, atmosphere feeds another notable aspect of human practice and experience – the enacting of ritual with all its attendant emotional rewards. Perhaps more than any other medium, immersion in a film experience illuminates a unique form of escapism among consumers, a phenomenon called ‘liminality’, an intense sense of unity of experience, almost transcendent, with a strong emotional undertone.

A liminal event is a memorable event and one which calls the seeker back for more. This is indeed the magic of the movies, which marketers would do well to take on board and employ in the service and inspiration of their clients. So, without further ado,

let’s go to the movies…(safely, of course) 

Image Citations: all creative commons free-to-use licence;

Social distancing at the VIC: flickr.com

Cinema graphic: commons.wikimedia.org

Cinema image 1: pixfuel.com

Cinema image 2: piqsels.com