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A Foxy view of the world

Is it all that bad for copywriters?

I hadn't heard of this DMA campaign for copywriters until today, but it makes interesting reading.

Based on a survey of 430 copywriters, it comes up with some facts, figures and statements on the general zeitgeist among those peddling their craft with a pen/keyboard these days.

I must admit, it's a gloomier-looking scenario than I have experienced. Clients generally appreciate


Tags: Copywriting, copywriters, survey, DMA

Dan Fox Copywriting hits the Chip Shop Awards!

It's been quite a week, with the highlight being the Chip Shop Awards where my entry was shortlisted for a prize.

The Chip Shop Awards are billed as a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the usual ad ceremonies, but with judges from agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy and DigitasLbi, there seemed to be quite


Tags: Chip Shop Awards, Bosch, advertising, copywriting

How sports journalism has changed

I love this article on how sports journalism has changed over the course of a century.

Twitter is, of course, the modern carrier pigeon - direct, slightly risky but nonetheless gets the message across most of the time.

But it's the relationship between the journalist and the sportsman that seems to have come full circle - Twitter now allows direct


Tags: Spoprts journalism, Twitter, carrier pigeons

Language on the move again

I wanted to share this great article from The Guardian about how language changes, evolving into words that might originally have been thought of as poor grammar but which then become the norm.

And for this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you all.


Tags: grammar, language, evolution, change

Font-tastic stuff

Wow, spring has sprung since last I wrote and things are looking good on the words front.

Speaking of which, this little video about font design should appeal to any fontheads out there obsessed with the micro details of font (which in fact I think affects all of us a lot more than we realise when it comes to


Tags: font, font men, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones

Punctuation genius dictation

That Mitchell and Webb sound with a brilliant sketch that uses punctuation brilliantly as a doctor dictates a letter. Listen and laugh!


Tags: punctuation, doctor's letter, mitchell and webb

A little English history

So that's why English is so complicated/fascinating/beautiful!


Tags: English language, history, writing

Working with designers

As copywriters, we all have to work with designers. Sometimes the relationship is a beautiful thing, other times it takes a bit more work.

So if you're not quite familiar with the designer's lingo , perhaps this summary would help?


Tags: designer, language, terms

Comic mastery

Check out this brilliant comic strip from a brilliant site! Thanks, xkcd.


Tags: comic strip, words, xkcd

Why internal comms count

One of the great things about writing internal comms, particularly copy for regular magazines, is getting to speak to people from right across the company.

What always warms the cockles of my heart is the passion with which people talk about their work, whether they're the MD or working on the shop floor.

There is a genuine belief that every


Tags: internal comms, communications, copywriting

The client is always right

That seems to be the message that shines through these quite brilliant posters based on client feedback collected by Irish creatives.

Among my favourites are "The copy seems to be in Latin, but could be Italian or Spanish" and "Can we make the pig sexier?".



Tags: client always right, feedback, sexy pig

At last - the truth about copywriting

I just came across this very funny yet poignant article by Mike Gillis about what's involved in copywriting, bare bones 'n' all.

It's a great way of showing how writing copy - especially short copy - takes a whole process of thought and careful consideration to arrive at the end product.

It's a justification for how writing one


Tags: Copywriting, how to, Timothy McSweeney, Mike Gillis


So there's a lot of transatlantic irking going on at the moment. No longer is it just us Brits grumbling about Americanisms invading our language; now it's the Americans grumbling about British terms.

But out of all this debacle, followed up in another BBC article, is a word that transcends the debate - "Britishisation'.

Not only does


Tags: Britishisation, Americanism, language

Naughty old advertisers

It's interesting that people don't always complain about what you think they might, and do about what you might not think they would, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has released a list of the most complained about UK ads ever.

And the most complaints ever? Not Benetton, or Durex or Sophie Dahl advertising


Tags: ASA, most advert complaints

Made me laugh Alot

Check out this brilliant blog about grammatical correctness (if such a term exists).

There's Alot to be said for it!

p.s. Happy Shakespeare's birth-and-deathday (if such a term exists).


Tags: Alot, grammar, funny

Style guidance

When it comes to house style, for tone of voice, grammar and spelling, there can be quite a lot of variety across different companies.

I generally find myself agreeing with the Guardian style guide (see @guardianstyle on Twitter). We have a few differences on things, but it's all fairly subjective and the overall intention is to make it easy for


Tags: style guide, writing guide, Guardian style guide, house style

A bright idea

What does it take to be original? Just a great idea (and the odd LED lightsuit, awesome snowboarder and artistic cameraman on a skidoo).


Tags: LED snowboarder, original idea

The slow burn

One of the main dichotomies of freelancing is that you often don't know what you're going to be doing next (if anything at all!).

It's what makes it such an interesting way to work, variety being the spice of life and all that. And while some work comes in regularly for clients you've worked with a lot, it's impossible to predict


Tags: Freelancing, planting seeds, don't forget the business cards

A bright 2012

After some busy months leading up to Christmas working on a number of exciting projects and changing my company from being a sole trader to a limited one (more on this to follow), it was good to take some time out and relax over Christmas.

Now it's back to the fray, so let me start by wishing you a happy new


Tags: new year, sole trader, limited company, gratitude

Blackberry frozen?

Well, it's Friday and this seems to be pretty contemporary considering the issues Blackberry have been having recently. Enjoy!


Tags: blackberry, apple, X Box, comedy

Red Cross video

925 million people living in hunger in the world today? That sucks.

This video from the Red Cross is a great way of explaining it and how it can be broken.

Nice production, great voiceover - very convincing. Let's hope it works.


Tags: red cross, video, hunger, charity

Grammar in a nutshell

I've just come across this great quote from William Safire's 'Great Rules of Writing' for the first time:

"Do not put statements in the negative form. And don't start sentences with a conjunction.

If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

Never use a long word when a


Tags: grammar, william safire, great rules of writing, copywriting

Does good advertising exist?

I read this interesting article about how good advertising works even when you think it doesn't.

While it's focused on the US, the principle remains the same everywhere - that ads don't generally make you get up and run out of the door to buy something, but work on a more subliminal level.

You'll often remember a good ad for


Tags: good advertising, killer slogan

Challenger World now live

Whoop-de-doop and all that - the latest edition of Challenger World is now up and running.

It's looking lovelier than ever, so check it out for all the biggest mass-participation sports events with whizzy copy and loads of info all in one online piece of magnificence!


Tags: Challenger World, digimag, e-magazine

Knowing when to comment

The guys at KISS Metrics have produced this interesting overview of the most effective times to tweet or comment on Facebook.

Some of it is as you might expect - peaks around lunchtime and early evening as people get home from work. But I was quite surprised to see that Facebook peaks on Saturdays.

So, lunchtime


Tags: social networking metrics, facebook posts, tweets, science

Fiendish ideas

Just received a delivery with an accompanying note asking me to "recommend my fiends".

Wondering if I know anyone fiendish enough? Mwah-ha-ha-ha!


Tags: Recommend a fiend

Google's Panda chews through content

Google's new algorithm, called Panda, has caused a "significant dip" in freelance copywriting jobs, according to

The drop has affected low-quality content for article submissions (down 29 per cent), copywriting (down 19 per cent) and ghostwriting (down 12 per cent), the website says.

Personally, I think it's no bad thing that it's going this way, discouraging those who use


Tags: Google, Panda, copywriting

What makes a copywriter?

This poster from US copywriter George Ellis made me laugh. Sums up copywriters (albeit slightly ironically...) in one fell swoop.


Tags: Copywriter, definition of a copywriter

A way with words

As a writer, I’ve always enjoyed words. The sound of them, the way they can change each nuance of what you are saying, is endlessly fascinating to me.

I find it amazing how different languages have evolved, how words come about and then change as people put them to different purposes down the years.

So I particularly


Tags: unusual words, rare words, English language

Perch profile

The good folks at Perch have profiled me on their site today, so I'm reciprocating!

Perch was used by my design agency Karyx to build this lil' old site and it's dead easy to use from a CMS end user point of view. I think the designers had some fun too!

If you need a


Tags: Perch, profile, web design

The latest digimag

I'm really pleased that the latest edition of Challenger World magazine is now live. It's aimed at runners, swimmers, cyclists and triathletes who are subscribers to CW, and is sent to over 120,000 readers.

It's the second one I've edited for them and have worked again with an excellent designer, Damian Browning, on this digital format.



Tags: Challenger World, digimag, online magazine editor, triathlon, running, swimming, cycling, endurance, magazine

The crafty comma

The local pub has a sign outside which says ‘Open as usual’. Which is all perfectly sensible (as long as you know their usual hours) but tempts the grammarfiti artist in me to add a crafty comma and change it into a sigh of world weariness; ‘Open, as usual’.

It shows the power of the comma to change meaning.


Tags: comma, grammar, when to use commas

Wise words

I read a great article recently by the contemporary British author Maggie O’Farrell.

In it, she described one of the main lessons she learnt from her university poetry tutor Michael Donaghy: “He taught me never to throw away a first draft, that every word must pull its weight, that good things come in threes, never to use abstracts,


Tags: Maggie O'Farrell, Michael Donaghy, writing advice

A nice, new notebook

Funny how new technology often borrows words from days of yore so that people understand what the hell they’re supposed to do with it.

Computing is an obvious example, what with folders, inboxes and desktops.

To that end, I’m loving the Black ‘n’ Red notebooks ad campaign, which plays on the use of the word ‘notebook’ for


Tags: Notebooks, black n red ad, technology words

Sign language

They’ve put up one of those temporary signs on my road that’s supposed to flash up the speed cars are travelling at. Instead it flashes 0.

It’s probably worse than useless, as who’s not going to try to get above the magic zero mph?

It reminds me of working on games packaging. Every game was risk assessed for


Tags: signs, language, communicating

Somerset's artless arts cuts

It's hard times for all. But cutting 100% of the arts budget, as Somerset County Council is planning to, is not the way to negotiate a crisis; if anything, the arts are more important in times of austerity than ever. See what David Shrigley thinks in this video about saving the arts:


Tags: Somerset arts cuts, arts budget cuts, save the art budget

Paper view

Times have been tough for, well, The Times recently - and the rest of the printed press.

So tough, in fact, that well-known futurist Ross Dawson is predicting the extinction of newspapers within the next 10 years in the UK and US.

So with circulation figures falling, how do the Fleet Street big boys


Tags: paid-for newspapers, The Times, news subscribers

Ultimate proofreading

I've done a fair bit of proofreading in my time, making sure my clients' final work goes out in all its grammatically-correct glory.


Yet I find that often the harshest proofreaders are on internet message boards where, rather than allow Joe Bloggs to have his rant before making a comment on it, people are delighted to point out the tiniest of


Tags: proofreading, grammar, forums

Taxing issues

Apparently there's a lot of tax refund scamming going on. Not that I'd ever believe it if someone told me I was actually getting a tax refund anyway... Be a Lert.


Tags: tax refund scam

It's a ripper - Aussie slang for all occasions

Strewth, these can come in handy sometimes. Make your feelings known, Aussie style!


Tags: Aussie slang

Adidada - Does surrealism in ads work?

Of course, brands have long gone for the impact ad to promote their products, but the trend seems to be to go for something utterly unrelated, preferably jammed full of supercelebs and hope the association rubs off.

Check out this new ad from Adidas which features such luminaries as David Beckham, Snoop Dogg and Noel


Tags: Adidas Star Wars ad, surrealism in ads, Beckham, Snoop Dogg

Freelancers waiting longer to get paid

It's taking even longer for freelancers to get their cash, especially from big companies.

Not a huge surprise there, but there are definitely some companies you know will cough up and others who will make you wait, and wait, and wait...

What's the solution? Do you just not work for unreliable companies, or build in the extra time


Tags: freelancer pay

What does your email address say about you?

More than you think, according to this article in the Times. Do we all make pre-judgements about people based on their email address? Is it like having the best postcode?

It works well for me having my own website and linked email address - you ain't gonna forget it, are you?!


Tags: email address personality

Creative musings

Check out this blog on The 3 stages of a creative life. Sound familiar?


Tags: 3 stages of creative life