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Copywriters on the rack #19: Glenn Fisher

Hello and welcome to Copywriters on the Rack. Now, stop wriggling while I get these manacles nice and tight.

Right. Who are you and what do you do to pay the bills?

My name is Glenn Fisher and mostly I use direct debit. Ah, what a comedian, eh? I make money by coming up with ideas for people, and often expressing them through words.

I can see we won’t be doing this the easy way. Next question, what was your career path to get to where you are now?

That’s a long story. But the short version is that I realised I didn’t want to be an accountant and so studied creative writing. Then I lucked into a copywriting gig at a big international publisher and developed my skills for a decade before going freelance.

What’s the best thing about your job?

A toss-up between the opportunity to make money by being creative and having free time to enjoy life (and be creative).

What’s the worst?

The fact most people don’t value copywriting as a skill.

How do you fill the gaps when you’re not doing the day job?

I read and write. Wait, that’s what my job is. But sadly—geekily even—that’s what I do. I’ve been working on a novel for the past year or so. Oh, I hang out with my partner Ruth and dog Pablo too. That’s fun.

Now we’ve got the formalities out of the way, let’s go rogue.

What was your nickname at school?

FA Cup. Prince Charles. Pob. My ears stuck out, so the names had somewhat of a theme.

I’d been eyeing those beauties up. Reckon they’d look good with electrodes clipped on. Anyway, write me a poem about WALLPAPER.

We want to see the world, whispered
the smoothly plastered walls of your room
We want to feel the soft touch of a paint brush,
the sumptuous drip of a Farrow & Ball.
But here beneath you hide us—bastards—
smeared in thickening paste and glue
covered in mass-produced paper that
you bought on discount from B&Q

What’s the stupidest thing you did as a teenager?

Try to oven cook bananas and nutmeg to make hallucinogenic drugs.

Who would win in a fight, a Shaolin Monk on Benylin or a walrus on mescaline?

There would be too much for them to discuss to bother fighting.

Write me three straplines for:

1) The lard council’s EAT MORE LARD campaign
Lionel loves lard. (The campaign would feature Lionel Richie recreating the Hello video, but with a bust made of lard.)

2) Fotheringhay’s Deceleration Powder (previous strapline: ‘Keeps kids younger for longer’)
I mean, I don’t even know where to begin. What’s a deceleration powder?

Fotherighay’s Deceleration Powder slows down the human metabolism, therefore extending one’s lifetime. Yes, there are horrendous side effects. Yes it hurts, a lot. Yes, it’s technically illegal. But, if you follow the instructions to the letter, you can extend your life for an extra 50 years or more (perhaps).

So, maestro, your strapline is…?

Well, in that case, I’m tempted to keep it simple and go with ‘Live Slow’.

3) Gucci wheelbarrows
Labour in luxury.

What would you like to come back as, if there’s a next time?

Myself, so I know all the answers.

Draw me a picture of a gorilla singing tenor at the English National Opera (yes I know you’re a writer, but do it anyway).

Copywriting is like peeling grapes with your feet, discuss.

I mean, it’s not the metaphor I’d first go to. Can you peel grapes? I drink a lot of wine and I write a lot of copy, so maybe there’s something in it. Help. Please help.

This is Copywriters on the Rack, not a holiday camp. Answer the question, or you’ll really be screaming for help.

OK, OK. Well, I guess if we consider peeling a grape, the purpose would be to get to the juicier stuff inside, the good stuff you could say. In a way, this is what we attempt to do as copywriters—we take an idea and try to remove the detritus around it so that only the good stuff is left.

Trouble is a lot of people like to keep the detritus around the idea i.e. jargon, technical things, elements that are only there to massage the product or service creator’s ego, so the job is made much tougher, much as peeling a grape would be with your feet instead of with your hands. Does that work?

Actually, someone once told me that Rosé is made by removing the skin of red grapes. Is that true? I’m not sure. Is it relevant? Probably not, and it would only further complicate these already challenging metaphors. Forget I said it. Look over there. A wasp wearing a top hat. Incredible.

What is love?

An accumulation of shared connections. Or, being more romantic, the feeling you get when someone makes you laugh despite yourself.

Pick a random pic from your camera roll and tell us about it.

This is my colleague, Pablo. He joined the company at the same time I went freelance and I’m not sure how I would have coped without him.

Write me a very short story featuring: An angry goose, Felicity Kendall and a fake passport.

“I won’t do it,” barked Goose. “You’re f****** off your head if you think I’m gonna try to pull the wool over Kendall’s eyes again.”

For weeks now, Kendall had been bringing business to a halt and he knew he needed to do something about it. Why she’d chosen to retrain as a passport officer, he couldn’t reason. But the fact she’d specifically requested to be stationed at Miami airport, told him all he needed to know. She was out to ruin him.

“Look, you can see if Mallard will do it,” said Goose, calming somewhat, “but you can grease my gizzards if you think I’m using this piece of s***” — Goose flapped the fake passport in his face — “when it’s Kendall on watch.”

The situation was dire, and he knew if he was going to keep funding the good life he’d enjoyed up until now, he’d need to find a new way around Kendall.

He had known, of course, at the time, that it was wrong to freeze Kendall out of the business. But he was young, arrogant, and the pond birds had all started to grow wise to the fact they weren’t getting a fair share of the spoils. He remembered when Goose had first seen the accounts and had stormed in shouting F*** you, Briers, I knew this skunk sold for more than ten pence. With the animals on an equal share, he just didn’t see another way of making it work unless he froze out Kendall and took her share himself.

Was it too late to bring her back in to the fold? There was only one way to find out.

What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

Ruth. Is she a thing? Actually, it was a meme she showed me this morning. About when the toilet seat slips.

What’s the last thing that made you cry?

I’m dead inside.

Write me dictionary definition entries for ‘Wilcock’s Lexicofantabulous Compendium of Oddities and Soddities’:

1) Xaumanian
In reference to the great Mexican poet Claudio Reas Xauman, who, writing in the sixteenth century, became well-known for writing stories that only used the same word repeatedly. When someone keeps using the same word today, it’s thought to be Xaumanian.

2) Bogfinkler
A slang term to describe a potato grown in sand.

3) Pottinger’s Gristle
A medical term attributed to the first turkey that was trained to perform routine operations on humans under local anaesthetic. The turkey, named Pottinger, was unique not only in its ability to hold a scalpel, but also had a wattle that reflected light like a disco ball. Though the term was initially coined as Pottinger’s Wattle, over time the phrase became misquoted to such an extent that Pottinger’s Gristle was adopted as common use. It refers to something startling.

What would you do with your last tenner?

Frame it in a preposterously large frame, sign it and perhaps make some other marks on the canvas and then try to sell it as art for much more than ten pounds.

Make up your own question and tell me whatever you want to get off your chest.

Why do people carry grievances around on their chest?

Give me three reasons why I should let you go.

1) Out of kindness.
2) I have a gun to your head.
3) The police have the building surrounded.

And before I remove the shackles, tell us where we can find you online.

OK Glenn, the shackles are off, now run like the wind before I find those electrodes.