The New Yorker recently featured an article by Jonah Lehrer called “Groupthink,” subtitled “The brainstorming myth.” To some, it will come as no surprise to learn “It doesn’t work.” That’s the pronouncement from academia (Yale, Washington U, Northwestern, Berkeley, Harvard), which has studied the classic good-vibes-only brainstorm technique originated by Alex Osborn, a partner in […]
Ever since I won the weekly Vocabulary Bee four weeks running in fourth grade, I’ve been pretty smug about my conversance with lexical arcana. So, I was impressed when *Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus introduced me to a new and tasty word, velleity: Wishy-Washy Word of the Day: velleity You know all those things that you’ve always […]
You can’t swing a dead sprig of mistletoe these days without coming across a witty disquisition on holiday-season language (my favorite so far: see below*, but only after you’ve read mine). Never one to compete with the experts, I am taking, instead, very broad aim at a very broad term: tradition. And then, because nobody […]
My Mom is hanging in the Museum of Modern Art: the Monica Lane story from publicity glossies to Pop Art.
Seasonality is a big deal in Northern California. We greedily anticipate the first Gravenstein apples, the olive crush, the almond blossoms, the salmon runs, the chanterelles under the oaks. Perhaps because there’s not all that much of a change of seasons around the San Francisco Bay, we fetishize the farmer’s market as our connection to […]
Business-speak seems to spawn imaginative metaphorical meanings for compound words. We have turnkey solutions to bandwidth issues and roadmaps to implementing backend gateways; we have sales pipelines and streamlined workflows and software toolkits and downstream upsells. Lately, we have been seeing some compound word metaphors that leave even Content Bureau eggheads with a bit of a headache…
Is it a stretch to see parallels between shingling a wall and writing copy? You be the judge.
The summer solstice is upon us, and I am in drippy, humid New York City, visiting family. My nephew’s cologne sits on the bathroom sink, begging to be spritzed. Weekend by Burberry: it smells of cut grass and grapefruit and vodka tonics. Or is it vodka gimlets? I cast a gimlet eye on 21-year-olds feeling […]
How does the most elemental of foods become the stuff of specialty markets? A thriving California family farm has thoughtfully plotted that course for the past 75 years. “Rice has a very long history of supporting humanity,” says Grant Lundberg, third-generation rice farmer in northern California’s Sacramento Valley and CEO of Lundberg Family Farms. “About […]
Everybody who follows the news knows what a “levee” is nowadays, between Hurricane Katrina and the current flooding on the Mississippi, but it was once a prime example of regional language.
A good thesaurus not only helps you find the right word, it helps you navigate your train of thought. Here’s a great online thesaurus that a word lover could get lost in.
Word lovers from various fields–marcomm, design, philanthropy, venture capital, and entertainment PR–tell us about the overused words they can’t live without, no matter how much they’d like to.
Now I know what I’ve been missing all these years–a Smartpen to help me take notes.
I thought about calling this new monthly CB blog column “The Lexiphiliac Gazette.” Lexiphiliac is a cool word, and maybe even a real word (not in my Webster’s*, but plenty of bloggers seem to like it). It runs afoul, however, of The Writer’s Golden Rule: don’t use a fancy big word when a plain little […]
One of our job perks is occasionally to be swept up in “coattails excitement.” Our clients often call on us for help when they’ve got big things brewing—they’re launching a new product, expanding into a new market, or presenting a new idea that’s tricky to explain (or all of the above, as in the case […]
The Atlantic‘s blog recently ran a post on the genesis of a joke that’s making the rounds in a big way. We may be behind the curve on this one, but this joke hits so close to our hearts that we just have to help viral-ize it: Twitter’s Best Joke: An SEO Copywriter Walks Into a […]
My alma mater, Wesleyan University, is experiencing a branding identity crisis that’s way more amusing than the Gap logo flap (and way more substantive: private-school tuition is a heck of a lot bigger consumer decision than jeans and tees, after all). The alumni network is lapping it up. Rather than recap, I’ll let the principal […]
The rains have come to Northern California—and that means mushroom season. It means stealthy dawn hunts along promising trails. Squinting through first light at the prizes that came up in the night. Getting ‘em fresh and new—because mushrooms grow incredibly fast, and they get old, slimy, maggoty, dried up, or just plain picked by somebody […]
Helvetica is the hip font. So why was it such a crime when the Gap tried to eat lunch with the cool kids?
Here’s a story that can be interpreted either as a doom-and-gloom report on the demise of two beloved forms of communication—newspaper journalism and indie movies—or as an optimistic rah-rah for innovative marketing. As optimistic marketers, let’s go with the latter.
We tip our caps to a master of the visual interpretation of data, Tom Wujek of Autodesk, who manned the whiteboard at the ultra-brainy Singularity futurism conference in the spring of 2010.
If copywriters were actors, we’d be the sort who love rococo accents and false noses, like Laurence Olivier or Meryl Streep. We at the Content Bureau take pride in our ability to switch writerly guises and voices from one assignment to the next—heads-down white-paper financialese one week, eco-minded web copy for a sustainability initiative the […]
Every subculture needs its holy scriptures. Business executives feel more like business executives when they read The Harvard Business Review. Marketers replenish their chops with Brandweek, start-ups with Entrepreneur. And so on. From The Mining Journal (founded in 1835) to Fish Farming International, name a specialty, and there’s a specialty publication that confers at least wannabe-insider status on its readers.
Sometimes we copywriter people need to be put in our place. INFORMATION IS BEAUTIFUL does it.
Newspaper obits describe the fabulous lives of uncelebrated people.
Copywriters value clarity and concision. Short, pithy, unambiguous—that’s the way we like our verbiage. We count words and lop clauses. On our own time, though, maybe curled up in our favorite cozy chair with a nice steamy cup of tea and the latest issue of Puffball Gazetteer, or maybe catching up on email (even though […]