Longhand 2.0 winners announced

16 May,2013

By Ananya Saha


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It is a free, open to all, ad contest that tests your ability to write long copy. Conceived by Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Associate Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, the Longhand 2.0 culminated recently and the winners were announced yesterday. (Read more about Longhand 2.0 here: http://www.mxmindia.com/2013/01/longhand -2-0-getting-better-and-longer/)


While Longhand 2.0 did not receive as many entries as last year, according to Mr Dasgupta, the submissions were better and more refined. He said, “We got about 430 entries or so. Last year we got 500. But this time we got entries from US, Canada, UAE Singapore, London etc.” The entries were subjected to critical eyes of who’s who of advertising industry including client judges such as Rahul Kansal, Executive President, BCCL and Mohit Hira from JWT. Apart from the client judges, there were known names such as Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman & CEO of McCann Erickson Worldgroup India; Agnello Dias who co-founded Taproot and David Shanks - a copy-based Creative Director who runs his own one-man company called Clear Brand Essence from London; and guest judges Ed McCabe, co-founded Scali, McCabe, Sloves and advertising legend Tony Brignull. “Why I chose different jury this time was because I wanted a higher standard of entries, which came through too. So while the entries were lesser this time, the kind of entries that came in was far better and professional,” claimed Mr Dasgupta.


Q&A with David Shanks, Jury, Longhand 2.0

When you were asked to judge Longhand 2.0, what was your initial reaction?

Well, delighted obviously. I’m a copywriter so I have to believe that good storytelling is central to what we do. I was also curious to what we would get.


Judging the copy: was it a tedious or a good sign of people getting interested in writing long copy?

It’s not tedious at all and I think you have to give credit to every writer who is going to take the time to put his thoughts down about a zoo or a bunch of flowers. I think Indian writers are inherently interested in long copy, perhaps more than other countries. But they need to absorb more.


Would you agree that writing long copy, and good long copy, is a dying art?

Well it seems to be, but it could be that as we become more immersed in technology long copy might actually re-invent itself in a whole new way. See my thoughts about that below. I hope so because I am more interested in preserving the ability of people to write and hold a thought.


If you have to revive the interest of creative people and clients in long copy, what would you say to them?

Our business needs intelligent people who can distil complex messages down to simple thoughts, delivered in a manner that is both engaging and entertaining. Those creative people who wish to impress on clients their ability to think and deliver ideas must be able to express their thoughts in a way than demands to be heard.


Writing a long-copy ad (and art directing it) is a good way of showing you can combine intelligence, discipline and creativity for any length of time.


Your words of advice for the winners and the participants?

I feel too many Indian writers wrote their ads with little direction or inspiration from how the best writers in the world would have tackled the same briefs. So they came across as ads written in isolation.


In all honesty, many needed a lot more work. This may sound silly, but too many writers simply do not understand the importance of art direction and typography in a good long-copy ad. I killed most of the entries purely because of these distractions.


On the writing side, too many writers still think it’s an exercise in wordplay. It’s about an interesting thought, delivered through an ad that talks to you, with enough wit or notions in there that makes you think. And yes, it must be easy to read. I felt that maybe 10 ads delivered this, no more.


What are your views on the work in India in terms of Longhand copy?

India has some excellent writers and art directors, but I fear they may be few and far between. I feel that writers really must start getting the D&AD books out and start copying the copy of the best writers. I think Indian writers need to open their minds a bit more about how to get there in a different way. I felt many of the ads were written in isolation rather than “How would Indra Sinha or Neil French have tackled this brief?”


Where do you see the future of long copy in India?

We may as well ask that question about anywhere in the world. I generally think keeping long copy alive is good because it preserves and encourages the ability for people to hold a thought for more than 140 characters. As business people and storytellers we must be comfortable with words. But long copy needs to find its place again. Perhaps as we become more deeply immersed in technology, we might find that long copy resurfaces in a completely different way. Through an ad that talks to you, for example. I hope so.


This time’s gold winner is Lyle Shemer from JWT, New York – an entry that Neil French and David Shanks gave Gold to. And it won. However, no Silver has been awarded this year. “We had initially given out a Silver. I spoke to Neil and we decided not to award silver to that entry because there were lots of errors in that ad. So we decided not to give it silver but gave it a bronze.” (Winners Showcase here: http://longhandawards.com/winners/). Last year the winners received ‘Sorry for The Lobsters’, a book written and signed by Neil French. This time around, the winners will have to wait for the surprise!


Mr Dasgupta aspires to get sponsorship for Longhand 3.0. What can we say? Some things only get better with age!


Q&A with Edward McCabe, Guest Judge, Longhand 2.0

Were you aware of the Longhand contest?

I really didn’t know anything about it and had never heard of it but since long copy (in fact ANY) copy in advertising is becoming more and more rare.


As a judge, did the process become tedious?

It wasn’t tedious because I only had to look at the seven entries left after the regular judges had done their work.


Would you agree that writing long copy, and good long copy, is a dying art?

Absolutely agree.


How can one revive the interest of clients in long copy?

Saying won’t do much. It’s doing that counts. And then getting good results.


What would you say to young creatives interested in long copy?

If it’s long it had better be VERY interesting and rewarding to read.


Your personal favourite from the winners.

I thought the best of these BY FAR was the “Rape Joke” ad.


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