Traffic Island Discs Part2 – Freelance Copywriter Jonathan Wilcock

Grab a hi-vis vest; it’s Traffic Island Discs #2

A couple of weeks ago I sent out a distress signal.

Lost and lonely on a cold, damp traffic island somewhere in Gateshead, I asked some Twitter chums to join me and bring three good tunes, a book and a luxury item with them.

Looks like we’re in for quite an odd party – eclectic playlist to say the least. Grab a hi-vis vest and join us for another spin of Traffic Island Discs.

The chillout tunes
Nica Libres at Dusk – Ben Howard
Time – Hans Zimmer
Inca Roads – Frank Zappa
Song #3 – Stone Sour (NB. André Spiteri chills out like no one else)
More Than This – Roxy Music
The Man With a Child in His Eyes – Kate Bush
Strawberry Letter 23 – Shuggie Otis
Small Hours – John Martyn
Cigarettes and Coffee – Otis Redding
Sorry About Your Irony  – El Ten Eleven
At The Bottom of Everything – Bright Eyes
Going to California – Led Zeppelin
Watch Over You – Alter Bridge

The shake-you-up-and-wake-you-up tunes
Blockrockin’ Beats – Chemical Bros
One-Armed Bandit – Jaga Jazzist
Expansions – Lonnie Liston Smith
A Message to You Rudy – The Specials
Higher State of Consciousness – Josh Wink
Throes of Perdition – Trivium
Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie
Who Knows Where the Time Goes – Fairport Convention
Right Here Right Now – Fatboy Slim
Is It Wicked Not To Care? – Belle & Sebastian
Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & the Waves
Burning Down the House – Talking Heads
Powertrip – Monster Magnet

The nostalgia tunes
Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns ‘N Roses
Just Looking – Stereophonics
Beeswing – Richard Thompson
Simple Feeling – Heartless Bastards
Hotel California – The Eagles
Starlings – Elbow
So What? – Miles Davis
Movin on Up – Primal Scream
Scarborough Fair – Simon & Garfunkel
A Dream of You and Me – Future Island
The Yabba – Battles
Square Hammer – Ghost
I Just Can’t Help Believing – Elvis Presley

The books
Bleak House – Charles Dickens
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Murther and Walking Spirits – Robertson Davis
No Matter What – Debi Gilori
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
A Month In The Country – JL Carr
Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man – Nina Lyon
Naive, Super – Erlend Loe
500 Bus Stops – John Shuttleworth
Winter of the World  – Ken Follett
The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

The luxury items
A flask of tea, a laptop, a towel, coffee, a bottle of Glenrothes 12yr old single malt, a reflective jacket, a typewriter (with paper), a tea caddy, a crate of cider, a big blanket, good health and a driver.

With the driver (a cheat, but thanks anyway Ben McKinney), looks like we’ll all make it off the island alive, but we’ll be very hungry and some of us will have stupid hangovers.

Thanks for your contributions: Ed Prichard, Morton Waters, André Spiteri, Kevin Mills, Ben McKinney, Claire Hawes, 100 Designs, Craig Wright, Ben Connell, David Pennington, Green Fuse Copy, Hollie Sherrington and Annie Writes.

Any other suggestions? Gizza shout.

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
You can drop me a line here, or email jonathan@sowhatif.co.uk

Traffic Island Discs – Jonathan Wilcock

Traffic Island Discs

You’re hitchhiking to Edinburgh and you’re dropped off somewhere in Gateshead. After a protracted visit to a working men’s club and several yards of subsidised ale, you find yourself wandering and befuddled, but remarkably chipper for someone who’s forgotten what day it is.

Ahead, look, an oasis, a green and pleasant land to rest your weary head for the night. Snuggled up, safe and warm, the only things missing are three righteous tunes, a good book and one luxury item to make your sojourn in this slightly scary urban jungle a little more comfortable.

Welcome my friends to Traffic Island Discs (based on a true story).

As a follow up to ‘The Non-Movie Buff’s Top 10 Movie List‘ and ‘The Official People’s Top ‘You Gotta Watch’ Movie List‘, here’s my homage to one of Radio Four’s oldest and best-loved shows (thanks for the blog post idea @_MortonWaters).

Here are the rules:

Choose three tunes: one to soothe and gently lull you to sleep, one to perk you up/get you busting a few moves in the morning and one that pushes all your nostalgia buttons as you slurp your first cuppa of the day.

Choose one book: something to raise your spirits/help you make it through the night/let you know everything’s gonna be all right.

Choose one luxury item: it won’t get you off your island, but it’ll make the experience more bearable.

So, shooting from the hip, here goes my choice for Traffic Island Discs.

Tune 1 (the chill-out one)
Albatross by Fleetwood Mac
All of a sudden this little island of mine is starting to feel a lot more tropical.

Tune 2 (the bouncy one)
Phat Planet by Leftfield
Cobweb removal services c/o Neil Barnes and Paul Daley.

Tune 3 (the “aaah, that takes me back’ one)
Marcus Garvey (and Garvey’s Ghost – the dub version) by Burning Spear
Winston Rodney’s voice, the bass line, everything really.

The book
‘Sathya Sai Baba, The Embodiment of Love’ by Peggy Mason and Ron Laing
Opened my eyes, made me cry, re-set my compass.

The luxury item
Arm & Hammer sensitive toothpaste. I’ll just use this stick as a toothbrush.

Tuned-up, inspired and with minty-fresh breath, I head off into the great unknown.

Care to join me? What would your Traffic Island Disc essentials be?

Tweet me @Jonathan50Wh4t1 or pop your comments here.

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
You can drop me a line here, or email jonathan@sowhatif.co.uk

The People's Movie List – Jonathan Wilcock

The Official People’s Top ‘You Gotta Watch’ Movie List

I wrote a blog post entitled ‘The Non-Movie Buff’s Top 10 Movie List‘.

Then I asked the Twitterati what movies they’d want to see in their own list.

Crumbs, that got tongues wagging.

As a highly intelligent (some might say hugely intellectual) creative person, I am in no way endorsing this list. There’s been no editing or quality control whatsoever. Don’t blame me, the people have spoken. Oh whatever, here it is:

The 39 Steps (1936)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Godfather (1972)
Rocky (1976)
Grease (1978)
The Warriors (1979)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Alien (1979)
Escape from New York (1981)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Blade Runner (1982)
Back to the Future (1985)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Commando (1985)
The Goonies (1985)
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Highlander (1986)
Running Man (1987)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Withnail and I (1987)
Predator (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Die Hard (1988)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Total Recall (1990)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
It (1990)
Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Goodfellas (1990)
Wayne’s World (1992)
Unforgiven (1992)
Speed (1994)
Forest Gump (1994)
Braveheart (1995)
Se7en (1995)
Before Sunrise (1995)
The Rock (1996)
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Con Air (1997)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
A Room For Romeo Brass (1999)
Magnolia (1999)
Fight Club (1999)
Memento (2000)
Heist (2001)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
The Prestige (2006)
Gran Torino (2008)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inception (2010)
Tyrannosaur (2011)
Prometheus (2012)
Goosebumps (2015)

Stats time: 4 Arnies, 4 Ridleys, 3 Clints, 2 Meadows’, 2 Cages and only 1 de Niro.
18 from the ’90s, 17 from the ’80s, 1 each from the ’30s and ’60s and nothing from the ’40s or ’50s.

Of the 60 films in the list, I’ve seen (or at least remember seeing) 45 of them. Of those, I reckon I’d watch 25 again, any day of the week.

Thanks to everyone who cast their vote. If you didn’t and your favourite film isn’t here, tough – this is now The Official People’s Top ‘You Gotta Watch’ Movie List. End of.

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
You can drop me line here, or email jonathan@sowhatif.co.uk

How to tell a creative copywriter their work sucks – Jonathan Wilcock

How to tell a creative copywriter their work sucks (without getting blood or tears on the carpet)

A creative copywriter is a sensitive soul. It doesn’t take much to shatter his or her funny little world.

The best way to make them cry is to tell them their work is rubbish. And if you want to twist the knife, don’t tell them why.

Besides a woolly creative brief, destructive criticism is a sure fire way to get the worst out of your creative resource.

They’re human beings. More than that, they’re artistic pixie people that need buckets of TLC.

So, how do you tell a creative copywriter their work sucks and leave them feeling inspired?

The first thing is to be honest with yourself. Did the brief have more holes in it than a pound of Swiss cheese in a Wild West shootout?

Basically, if you gave them a bum steer in the first place, it’s time to suck it up and pay for more of their time.

Let’s assume the brief was tighter than a bodybuilder’s showtime pants, but the creative results are disappointing. Where do you go from here?

1) The main point of the brief, ‘the most important thought to leave behind’, isn’t coming across.

Go back over the brief and explain why this is important to you/your audience. Ask them to look at ways of pulling this message out more clearly.

2) The tone of voice is wrong for your audience.

If you have a brand language document that they haven’t been exposed to, then it isn’t their fault if they’ve gone slightly off course. If there was no such document to share, the brief should have at least defined the kind of people you need to talk to.

Go back over this part of the brief and expand if necessary – point them at other brands that are talking in the right kind of way. Explain the sort of newspapers your target might read and the brands they buy. Pick out words the copywriter’s used that particularly jar.

3) The creative execution lacks impact.

It could be the headline, imagery, colours… If you feel that it would get lost amongst the competition, say so. Show examples that have the sort of impact you’re looking for.

4) You just don’t like it.

The onus is on you to work out why you don’t like it. The absolute worst thing you can say to a creative copywriter is, “I don’t know why, but it’s just not doing it for me”. If that’s all you’ve got, don’t be surprised if by draft 7 it’s still not floating your boat.

5) You’ve seen it before.

Is it just like something you’ve seen in your sector, an idea that’s been run by a competitor or is it an obvious rip-off of a famous piece of advertising/design (but not a knowing parody or homage)? Don’t assume your copywriter knows the piece you’re referring to. Dig it out so you can show how similar the thinking is.

This is a particularly interesting area. The amount of times I’ve heard someone say, “It looks like XXX’s logo”, then when said logo’s been found, there’s no resemblance whatsoever. Be sure your memory isn’t playing tricks on you.

6) It has no redeeming features whatsoever.

Tricky one this. Your objective here should be to inspire, not deflate. Unless you know each other well enough to be totally blunt, find something that you can put some kind of positive spin on. It could be as simple as, “I know this is a difficult brief…”, “There’s some really interesting thinking here…” or “Not sure this is up to your usual standard…”.

Don’t be patronising, but find a way of letting them down as gently as possible. Then make your feedback constructive. Leave them with a clear understanding of which direction to head in and feeling fired up, ready to wow you when it comes to Round 2.

Getting it right first time every time is the ideal, but it isn’t a given.

Copywriting is an art, not a science. A tight brief, open dialogue and working with someone you know you can trust will get you 99% of the way, but then it’s down to interpretation, magic and taste – all the flowery stuff that can’t be bottled.

If you want to work with a seasoned creative copywriter, who can help with the briefing process and has a thicker skin than most, please give me a shout – but not aggressively in my face – even I have my limits.

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
You can drop me a line here, or email jonathan@sowhatif.co.uk

The non-movie buff's movie top ten – Jonathan Wilcock

The Non-Movie Buff’s Top 10 Movie List

What makes a good movie great?

We all love a good movie, but what makes a good movie a great movie? Without analysing the mechanics of film making, these are the ingredients that keep me on the edge of my seat:

– Hooks me and pulls me in
– I care about the characters
– It entertains me
– It stands the test of time
– I get lost in the story
– I’d happily watch it again and again.

I thought it would be fun to quickly throw together a top ten list of films that tick all of these boxes. How deluded was I!

I reckon I’ve seen somewhere in the region of 7,000 to 10,000 movies. IMDb has 300,000+ features in its database. Rotten Tomatoes has given more than 350 movies a 100% rating and Hollywood alone releases 600-700 new movies a year. This wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

Undeterred, I started to draw up a very long shortlist. Here’s what I learned along the way.

– My taste isn’t very highbrow, in fact I’m about 30% human, 70% popcorn
– I’m a sucker for sci-fi, comedy and action
– The 60s, 80s and 90s were great decades for film
– Somebody is investing millions in a load of straight to DVD dross
– Criteria 6 rules out M. Night Shyamalan movies
– A top forty is easier to compile than a top ten
– If you love rom coms and musicals, best you stop reading now.

Hold on a minute, what’s this all got to do with copywriting?

Good question.

Copywriting also needs to hook people, get them to care about something, entertain and stand the test of time (If you’re forced to watch a TV commercial 50 times, it ought to be pretty decent).

Great film writing is a masterclass in storytelling, memorable one-liners and dialogue. And when it comes to the posters, that’s where you’ll find some of the best taglines:

IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM – Alien

BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID – The Fly

THE FIRST CASUALTY OF WAR IS INNOCENCE – Platoon

Now we’ve cleared that up, it’s on with the show.

The BlancaKane Cuckoo Father – Jonathan Wilcock

Every movie top 10 list seems to include at least one of these usual suspects (but not The Usual Suspects): The Godfather, Casablanca, Citizen Kane or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. All superb films no doubt, but none of them made it onto my shortlist.

As my wife might say, “You always have to be different don’t you”.

I was determined not to be swayed by the opinions of the great and the good. Using my own Gogglebox-ometer, I plundered my DVD collection and memory bank, and soldiered on.

It’s a bit of a cheat, but after a lot of deliberation, here are four top tens, all cracking movies (in this reviewer’s opinion) and all worthy of a couple of hours of your life. Unleash the geek:

The ‘almost made it into the top 30’ top 10:

• Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
• Blade Runner (1982)
• Die Hard (1988)
• Home Alone (1990)
• There’s Something About Mary (1998)
• The Truman Show (1998)
• The Bourne Identity (2002)
• Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
• Inception (2010)
• Avengers Infinity War (2018)

The ‘almost made it into the top 20’ top 10:

• The Maltese Falcon (1941)
• It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
• Scrooge (1951)
• Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953)
• The Magnificent Seven (1960)
• Planet of the Apes (1968)
• Jaws (1975)
• Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
• Predator (1987)
• Delicatessen (1991)

The ‘almost made it into the top 10’ top 10:

• The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
• The Servant (1963)
• Carry On Screaming (1966)
• Enter the Dragon (1973)
• Raising Arizona (1987)
• Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
• The Big Lebowski (1998)
• Van Helsing (2004)
• The Incredibles (2004)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Top 10 movies of all time – Jonathan Wilcock

So here it is: the ‘non-movie buff’s top 10 movies of all time’ top 10 list (of all time):

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
Rear Window (1954)
Goldfinger (1964)
Easy Rider (1969)
Gremlins (1984)
Aliens (1986)
Big (1988)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Toy Story (1995)
The Matrix (1999)

And just in case you’re screaming at your screen, here are the others that almost made it:

Un Chien Andalou (1928)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Key Largo (1948)
Passport to Pimlico (1949)
The Lady Killers (1955)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
The Great Escape (1963)
Repulsion (1965)
The Party (1968)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Gandhi (1982)
John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
Back to the Future (1985)
Wings of Desire (1987)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Trainspotting (1996)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Snatch (2000)
Be Cool (2005)
Ip Man (2008)

Question is, which movies do you think should be in the top 10 and which ones ought to be thrown into the alley behind the Scala?

Now back to that choc ice.

Jonathan Wilcock (that’s me) is a Senior Freelance Copywriter.
You can drop me a line here, or email jonathan@sowhatif.co.uk