Copywriting or design?

“Which comes first?” he asked.

“Which comes first?” I said.

“Yeh, like, in general,” he said, “when you’re making an ad, does design follow copy or vice versa?”

For a long time, ads were made a certain way: the copywriter studied the brief, wrote the words, then slipped the work under the art director’s door.

The art director then designed around the writer’s concept and vision, the writer’s idea.

So it wasn’t a collaborative process. Not at all. It was an assembly line, a relay race — and the order was copy first, art second, always…

...until 1960, when a creative director named Bill Bernbach tried something new:

He put the copywriter and the art director in a room together, to think and ideate and create together, simultaneously.

Bernbach’s “creative teams” went on to make incredibly innovative #advertising, including the famous VW Think Small campaign, which is now a testament to the ideas that emerge when two people are thinking, not just one.

“So,” I said, “I think the idea comes first.”

“The idea?” he said.


Marketing, first and foremost, is about ideas. And the best ideas come out of collaboration, teamwork, not isolation. The best ideas come from writers and designers working together from the get-go.


Lemme know what you think in the comments and feel free to visit VeryGoodCopy for more. :)

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