Before the others see it
Before the “are you done?”
Before they see another way
Before the changes come
Before the client sees it
Before they “er” and “um”
David Abbott is dead.
And I am sad.
With the exception of one man, he, above all others, shaped my career as a writer.
And that one exception was a student of Abbott’s.
So the point may be moot.
Like so many others, I pored over his entry in The Craft of Copywriting, copying his writing technique, feet on the desk, slightly tilted chair, pen tipped to my lips in a woeful attempt to mirror his inimitable style.
I was enchanted with his daredevil acts of writing, “If the welding isn’t strong enough, the car will fall on the writer”.
I couldn’t wait for the latest D&AD Annual, knowing there would be an Abbott or two to worship, for the grace of a well-turned headline or the simple shock in a carefully crafted sentence, “When the Government killed the dog licence they left us to kill the dogs.”
A photocopy of his Chivas Father’s Day ad stayed with me through five interstate moves and a divorce. “Because a red Rudge bicycle once made me the happiest boy in the street.”
His, “Or buy a Volvo” ad is as iconic as Bernbach’s “Lemon”. And perhaps more copied. Aping an Abbott ad seems, sometimes, to be a national sport for lesser writers.
Whenever I had to defend the use of more than twenty words in a press ad, I would turn to a Sainsbury’s ad and triumph, “Which of these words would you remove?”
He made me want to be a better writer.
He still does.
All I can do, like so many others, is bow my head over my keyboard.
And try harder.
Originally published by Brand Clarity, May, 2015