The Writer Behind the Words

The new Budweiser advert for the American Super Bowl is causing quite a stir. In it, Dame Helen Mirren warns viewers against the foolishness of drink-driving. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: Budweiser ad 2016.

Helen Mirren opens the ad by describing herself as a ‘notoriously frank and uncensored British lady’ while regal music plays in the background. She then goes on to launch an articulate tirade of insults against anyone who drink-drives.

She is the perfect choice for the advertisement; a commanding figure who previously played the starring role in ‘The Queen’. Her delivery is undoubtedly excellent. The words convey the message perfectly while the accompanying video footage advertises Budweiser beer by displaying Dame Helen’s enjoyment of a Bud with burger and fries. The words to the advertisement may even have been written with Dame Helen Mirren in mind.

While she may describe herself as ‘notoriously frank and uncensored’ in the ad, the British press have proudly used a range of descriptions for her including, ‘elegant and eloquent’. But it made me wonder who the person behind the words is. This thought often runs through my mind when watching TV. Something will capture my imagination and I’ll think, ‘that’s a clever bit of writing’.

TV

It’s something that people often lose sight of; behind every TV advertisement, film, drama, documentary, billboard ad etc. there is a writer. Ironically, while actors and actresses are lauded for their performances, the writers who supply their words are seldom mentioned. I checked the media coverage of several newspapers and TV channels for the Budweiser advertisement, yet not one of them mentioned the writer. In fact, they didn’t even mention which advertising company Budweiser had used to produce the advertisement.

So, what other media are writers involved in?

Ooh, just about everything: TV, radio scripts, cinema, theatre, billboard campaigns, mailshots, email campaigns, the Internet and social media. In fact, major companies employ copywriters specifically to manage their social media accounts as well as produce regular blog posts for their websites. Even prime ministerial and presidential speeches are penned by writers; people who are employed to write speeches on their behalf.

Speeches

If I was to ask you to name the best speech of all time you would probably say Martin Luther King, ‘I Have a Dream’, or the Obama Victory Speech of 2008. But what if I was to ask you who wrote those speeches? The majority of people wouldn’t know. Incidentally, the memorable part of Martin Luther’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was probably written by himself although he delivered it without referring to the text. You can read the full story here: I Have a Dream Speech.

Writers are the people who hide in the background but are behind so many impactful words that many of us will retain in our memories for years to come. Many writers prefer it that way. We are often shy and retiring types, and I for one have no desire whatsoever to appear on the stage. But wouldn’t it be nice if, in circumstances such as the above, the writer received even a one line mention in acknowledgement of his/her input.

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