JV: We should give Robert Summers credit for being the copywriter on both the winning entry in the RAP Awards and on the one that came in as the first-runner up as well.
J.J.: Yes, he was the writer. He resigned January of this year. I think he had some other things he wanted to pursue. But he was our National Creative Director and wrote both of those entries for the runner up and the first place. I still talk to him from time to time on the phone. I still call him my sensei, my guru. There’s still so much more I would love to learn from him.
JV: What’s one thing you learned from him about copyrighting?
J.J.: Write something every day. Write every day and when you write, revise — write and revise, write and revise. And have a strategy when you’re writing. Come up with a strategy before you write.
JV: How many people are there in your position at the CSG?
J.J.: I’m a producer/copywriter. I think we all have those stripes right now. Vito Gorinas is our other producer. And then we have a music director, his name is Jason Phelps. They’re going to be hiring another producer in the very near future.
JV: What are Jason’s duties as the music director?
J.J.: Jason is a singer/songwriter. He composes and records jingles and music beds that we may need. He does a lot of custom work for clients. I wouldn’t call them jingles because we want to try to take a different approach to the jingle and make it more of a song, like a 30 second song rather than singing the phone number and the location of the client.
JV: How does the CSG get their clients? Can any Clear Channel station have access to you guys?
J.J.: Only the top 25 markets, I believe, at this point, can approach us about doing creative for their client. We tend to gravitate towards the top clients, like a top ten client at a particular station, somebody who has the potential to spend big bucks. We help them get a strategy and get their marketing and their spot right with the strategy in an effort to get them the best return on their investment.
And we don’t just approach it on a spot by spot basis when we do something for a client. We do a campaign, and we strive to make that campaign something that can be an ongoing thing, rather than just three or four spots that you run for short while.
JV: That’s still a lot of AEs and a lot of clients to potentially deal with, when you’re talking about all the Clear Channel stations in the top 25 markets and all of the AE’s at those stations. Any time they feel they have a client that’s big enough to send your way, they can and do?
J.J.: Yeah, but they contact us through Bob Case. He is the VP and General Manager for the Creative Services Group.
JV: Does he more or less filter out what clients will not end up on your desk and which ones will?
J.J.: Exactly. He’s the gate keeper.
JV: What kind of contact with the client do you have on a typical project?
J.J.: Once the person contacts Bob, we have the AE with their client fill out a creative work plan — a series of questions that can help us understand where the client is coming from, where they want to go, what they want to do, what they hope to achieve. Also, we find out background — their current situation, what they’re running on air right now, what they’ve done in the past. We find out who their competition is and lots of different things to get a really good feel for the client.
After we get the creative work plan, we’ll set up what we call a creative consultation. We’ll get on a conference call with the AE and the client, or if the client is local here in Atlanta, we’ll sit down face to face with the client. Then we’ll just pick their brain. If we look at the creative work plan and there are other questions we want to ask, we’ll ask them. We’ll get a feel, get to know the client, get to know what they’re about, what makes them tick. Then we go into the writing process.
We mull over the writing process, and once we get a campaign that we want to present to the client, we do another conference call or a sit down and present the scripts to them. From that point, if they give the stamp of approval on the scripts, we take them into production. Now sometimes we’ll actually demo something out and produce one of the spots before letting them see the copy, especially if it deals with a lot of sound, which we try to do more and more. That way we can demonstrate to the client what their message will sound like and what they’re strategy will sound like and where it can go from there.
JV: What’s your turnaround on a typical campaign? When the project hits your desk, do you have a week, two weeks?
J.J.: The writing process, from the time we talk to them on a creative consultant, usually takes about five business days to come up with the copy. Once the copy’s approved, it’s about five business days to turn around the production, to produce the campaign.
JV: That’s pretty fast for the quality of work you’re churning out.
J.J.: Yeah, and it can be stressful. But you know what? When you’ve got great copy and you’re working with great stuff, it just all comes together and gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling that every production guy I think can identify with.
JV: About how many spots are you writing and producing, between you and Vito and Jason?
J.J.: It varies from week to week, from month to month. And once a quarter, we’ll put together what we call spec campaigns. We’ll talk to sales managers all over the company and find out what are some hot client categories that can really use some creative to get a client to step out on it. I think every quarter we’ll do an automotive campaign, because that’s always a big category. We’ll put together spec campaigns like that, maybe three or four a quarter, and then we’ll post them on our website for the rest of the company to use. The AE’s can download this information, the scripts, the research that we gather with it and the spots, and all they have to do is take it into their production facility and have them put their client’s tag on it.
So, like I say, we work on three or four campaigns a quarter, but then we’ve got all the customers that come through, so it’s really hard to say how much we do week to week. I mean, this week, I’m sitting on a lot. By the end of the day today, I’m hoping to finish up two campaigns. I’ve got two more campaigns that I want to have done before Friday. I mean fully produced. And then I want to demo out two spots from a campaign that we want to present to a client either later this week or early next week.