How I became a top Muslim copywriter

by
May 5, 2014

3843665556_42ec61f0b7_z

A couple of months ago I got a phone call from someone wanting a Muslim copywriter to help them launch a new halal product.  I tried to tell them they had got the wrong number.  But they insisted I was the person for the job.  Did they know something I didn’t?  The answer is yes.

Surely some mistake

The person who approached me was a lawyer on maternity leave who wanted to use their time productively.  Despite having little marketing experience they had already got quite a long way with a website.  But the kind of site they had in mind was probably going to cost them £30,000 and they simply didn’t have that kind of money.  I felt I didn’t have the necessary skills to pull off this kind of miracle by words alone so, after several long phone calls, I turned the job down.

This still left me puzzled as to how they got my number.  Then, looking at the analytics on my blog, I spotted that one of my posts had shown up on a search for “Muslim copywriter”.  So, being pretty SEO/internet savvy (not) I had a brilliant idea – type the words “Muslim copywriter” into Google and let’s see what happens.

And there I was, on page one, about half way down.  (And I’m still there).

How come?

How wrong can you get something?

In the summer of 2012 I wrote a post entitled Why designers need copywriters – a cautionary tale”.  It told the story of a design agency who branded a data security company, called “Saracen”, by using images of crusader knights.  I pointed out that the Saracens were Muslim horsemen while the crusader knights were Christians.  This I felt was a bit of a faux pas, seeing as they were fighting on opposite sides, and that Muslims and Christians still have their well-publicised differences to this day.

I expressed surprise that nobody from the design agency picked this or even bothered to check it.  And amazemed that the client didn’t know what their own brand name meant.  My feeling was that if they’d involved a copywriter then they might have picked that up.  Because we tend to pay a bit more attention to the meaning of words, rather than just colours and stuff.  And we probably did English and History at A Level, rather than Art and Media Studies.  Don’t get me started…

The law of unintended consequences

So, if you type the words “Muslim copywriter” into Google this post comes up as about number six on page one.  In fact, considering the number of times I’ve used the term in this post, and the headline, I may even hit the top slot.  Which is a nonsense, because this is not my speciality (OK, I lived in Yemen as a child, but that doesn’t qualify me – and it’s another story.  Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you).

Postscript.  Saracen Datastore now have images of girls in white shirts on their website.  Not guys in chain mail sporting the Cross of St George.  And I’m now one of the world’s leading copywriters.  Ha!

Picture credit:  Brian

 

2 Comments
  1. Jon Dewey May 8, 2014 Reply

    Jim
    Couldn't agree more - although I have worked with some very copy-savvy designers over the years. Your story reminded me of a client-facing article I once edited for one of the Big 4 accounting firms in which a keen associate had described a tax-related decision as 'something of a Sophie's choice'. I politely suggested that this was an inappropriate comparison and had the potential to give offence.
    Keep the faith (no pun)
    Jon

    • Jim May 12, 2014 Reply

      Hi Jon, glad you like post. It's scary how little consideration some people in our industry give to the words!

Leave a Reply