The Grumpy Old Copywriter: No, I Won’t Be Your “Friend”

Here’s a guest blog post from Thaddeus Van Haltren, who founded The Hired Pens in 1931 and now serves as our senior copywriter emeritus. His current accounts include Lux Detergent and Aunt Mildred’s Clam Juice Cocktail. Back in my pre-copywriting days, I played the wash-board in a musical outfit known as Peanut McGee & the […]

The Grumpy Old Copywriter: “Got a Scintilla of Originality?”

We’ll be honest: With Anna out on maternity leave, we’ve decided to dig into our newsletter archive to keep our blog fresh. Here’s a piece from a good friend of ours, the Grumpy Old Copywriter. Enjoy. Since its inception in 1993, the “got milk?” ad campaign has helped reinvigorate milk sales and indirectly led to […]

Are Twitter and Facebook Headed for a Fall?

Social media is supposed to be red-hot, right? Not so fast. According to a pair of recent articles, two of the giants of social media may have trouble ahead. Although Anna tweets (as do dozens of other people I like or admire), I’ve never been a big fan of Twitter. In certain cases, it can […]

Answering Reader Inquiries with the Unbridled Certainty of a Sarah Palin

I’ve mentioned before that I’m an avid skimmer of Parade magazine. Not a reader, just a skimmer. And the one feature I skim more closely than others is Walter Scott’s Personality Parade. It’s right there in the front of Parade. Readers send in questions; the anonymous Personality Parade guy (Walter Scott is a pseudonym) answers […]

Stop whatever you are doing and watch the Comfort Wipe infomerical now

Since is my home page, I’m not sure why I haven’t stumbled upon Slate’s brilliant “culture blogger” Seth Stevenson before. But after reading his post “Don’t Believe the Wipe” (about the new “Comfort Wipe”), I need to check in more regularly. I really don’t feel comfortable telling you what Comfort Wipe does, but maybe you […]

Beam me up an ice-cold Bud, Scotty

Last night my husband and I went to see the new Star Trek. Yes, it was great. And no, I was not a fan going in. In fact, I was about as far from a fan as you could get, having never watched a full episode in my life. Not that it matters because this […]

‘The Men Have Been Flying Around Me Like Honeybees!’

Part of our job as copywriters is to advise our clients on what not to do. Don’t make the subject line for that email so long. Don’t make users hit the Scroll Down button eight times to reach the bottom of that Web page. And one of my personal favorites: Don’t include anonymous testimonials in […]

Feeling Over-Stimulated

This morning I drove by my neighborhood Mexican restaurant to see their marquee now reads: “Our Stimulus Package: Buy One Lunch, Get a Second for Half Off.” A minute later on the radio, some car company was advertising “our version of the stimulus package.” And when I arrived at my destination, I saw a store […]

Ads That Obsess Us: Amish Electric Fireplaces

As I recently skimmed Parade magazine (learning about “the world’s top 10 worst dictators”), the headline immediately caught my eye: “Amish mantle and miracle invention help home heat bills hit rock bottom.” Of the several dozen items I find fascinating, the Amish and miracle inventions are near the top of the list. Now, here was […]

My Bet for 2009 Word of the Year

Most word nuts know Merriam-Webster named “bailout” its 2008 Word of the Year (for obvious reasons). I’ve got a leading contender for this year’s honor: transparency.   When I was growing up, I associated transparency with ghosts — usually the friendly kind. After I gave up cartoons, I learned a more negative connotation for the word. […]