Back to Pepperdine for the fall semester

Guest lecturing for Dr. Ginger Rosenkrans’ advertising class at Pepperdine University has been one of my great pleasures and honors for more than 5 years. You’ve never met a professor more devoted to teaching and to her students than Dr. Rosenkrans.

Above: Larry Greenfield, Owner of Big Back Grips and former Partner and Creative Director of JWT, and John Duffield, Executive Interactive Producer at JWT, visits with Dr. Ginger Rosenkrans' fall 2011 ad class.


  • Plain, simple¬†declarative or imperative¬†sentences often work well
  • That’s a guideline, not a rule.
  • It’s not enough for a tagline to be true. It needs to be¬†interesting and thought provoking, maybe even comforting. It has to lodge in the brain.
  • A good tagline can guide an entire campaign.
  • If you spend more than one minute “wordsmithing” (which is not even a word), chuck it. It works or it doesn’t.
  • It should be able to be used in conversation and sound completely natural.

The headline/copy/tagline relationship

You might say the headline is the diving board, the copy is the swimming pool, the tagline is the plush welcoming towel waiting for your readers at the end of the pool, something to wrap themselves in and luxuriate a moment while they think about the journey just taken through your ad. To put it another way, headline/copy/tag = beginning, middle and end.

Copywriting Tips

COPYRIGHT 2011, Larry the Writer:

  • Nothing improves copy as much as the art director insisting half of it has to go
  • If the writer then edits CAREFULLY, with a scalpel instead of a meat cleaver, what remains should be pretty good
  • Don’t make claims. Just lay out a solid case
  • Try not to make ad copy sound like ad copy
  • Respect the reader’s intelligence
  • Your ad should always tell a story, with a beginning, middle and end.
  • Every story involves 3 decisions: What to put in; what to leave out; what order it goes in
  • Most people screw up “what to leave out”
  • You’re not being paid to stuff crap in; you’re being paid to decide what crap to leave out.
  • You can break the rules of English grammar anytime it serves your creative needs: But know you’re doing it! And have a clear explanation. You don’t want your client surprising you by knowing more than you do.
  • On wordsmiths: “There are no wordsmiths, just bad writers.” LTW
  • On small ads: “There are no small ads; only small writers.” LTW
  • Spend less time trying to “think of the ad” and more time living the life and thinking the thoughts of the consumer.
  • Don’t try to sell a product you’ve never tried.
  • Don’t try to sell to people you don’t know anything about.
  • Go out in the world and meet the people you’re selling to
  • Don’t plan your life around focus group reports. There are few things deader or more misleading than a focus group report
Larry The Writer

Pepperdine Tonight!

An invitation to talk to Dr. Ginger Rosenkrans and her advertising classes at Pepperdine University in Malibu is an honor that Ginger has chosen to bestow on me many times. A beautiful campus, eager students, my friend and once-colleague John Duffield all make this one of the best nights of the year. Tonight we’ll discuss Taglines: What works and what doesn’t. And copy: What to leave out.