How to hone your copywriting in sixty seconds

As a copywriter, I don’t think it’s healthy to write about the same thing all day, every day. I need a bit of variation to keep my brain ticking over. To avoid creative tunnel vision.

One Minute Briefs (OMB) provides that variation. It’s a Twitter-based creative contest every weekday, run by Nick Entwistle from The Bank of Creativity, where there’s only one rule: you get one minute to create an advert.

Monday’s brief could be to advertise lampposts. Tuesday’s to advertise skiing. Wednesday’s might be dogging. Oh yes. Nothing’s off limits.

All it takes is a flash of instant brilliance to produce something great. And even if your idea’s a bit dodgy, you only spent a minute on it, so don’t worry about it.

How does it work?

First off, follow @OneMinuteBriefs on Twitter. Have a look back through their tweets to get an idea of the format and to be wowed by the creative genius of the many entrants.

The pinned tweet is normally the day’s brief, then it’s over to you to grab your pen, marker, mouse or phone and come up with a concept in sixty seconds.

You could come up with a witty or intelligent one-liner. Sometimes it pays to be a bit more verbose. Or an image might pop into your head that you just have to hastily draw. But unsurprisingly, the simplest ads are usually the best.


Left to right, One Minute Briefs ads by @ZedTrafficker, @richbayley80 and @chorles

Once you’re done, Tweet a pic of your ad to OMB (who’ll retweet it) and that’s your entry complete. Your ad is seen by nearly 11,000 OMB followers, with the best ones being liked, retweeted by others, and several eventually chosen as winners (see what’s in it for me).

Who can join in?

Loads of designers take part. Many copywriters do too. But in this age of Creatives, where writers are thinking visually and designers are equally as au fait with words, everyone has a fair crack.

Most entrants are in-house or agency creatives, freelancers and students, but there are no restrictions to who can join in; everyone’s encouraged to give it a go.

Sometimes it’s a killer line that steals the show. Other times it’s the imagery. The format doesn’t have to be 2D either. There are lots of cool ambient ideas for places like bus stops, zebra crossings and the inside of lifts.

What’s in it for me?

  1. The honour of winning. With the standard of entries so high, it gives you huge pride to know yours is among the best.
  2. Occasional prizes. Organisations often approach OMB to issue a brief that benefits their brand or cause, with prizes on offer for the winners.
  3. Networking. You’ll pick up tips, share ideas and have loads of fun by engaging with the creative community of followers (known as OMBLES). There are even regular events with speakers and live OMB battles.
  4. Good for your portfolio. If your portfolio is a bit thin or you’d like to include something a little quirkier than usual, your OMB entries are a great way of demonstrating your skills. Here are mine >
  5. Creative freedom. There are few other places you get to unleash the foulest, funniest, quirkiest ideas you have. And you’re often left wondering what depths of your brain they came from.
  6. Supporting good causes. OMB issue briefs on behalf of charities and groups looking to raise funds and awareness through a well-executed advert or wider campaign. So your creativity can help make a real difference.

As an example of number 6, The Gate Films approached OMB last year to get the OMBLES to come up with ideas that could be turned into a film to help save our NHS.

That film ended up becoming the music video for A Bridge Over You by the NHS Choir, which beat Justin Bieber to become 2015’s Christmas No.1.

The script for the video came from that original brief, and OMB ran several sub-campaigns to drive it to the top spot. My selfie was even featured towards the end (new claim to fame).

So it goes to show that anything is possible, even in sixty seconds. Find out more at the One Minute Briefs website.

This post was originally published on the Professional Copywriters’ Network blog.

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