I’m currently busy preparing for a trade fair, Midem in January. So like everyone else, I spend a lot of time mining the event database looking for potential partners. I’ve done this from different sides of the table for 15 years now (both copywriting and sales), and I still see the same mistakes coming back time and again.
I remember when it was held as a truth that the written word was dying and the world would communicate visually. Luckily for writers, the Cannes film festival is there to remind everyone that in the beginning was the word. And not only are words essential to get a story moving, they are also there at every step of the way when it is pitched to a producer, who then pitches to co-producers and financiers, before pitching it to distributors and later the press.
In 7 years of creating the campaigns for Midem, we have seen the world of trade fairs transform at an unbelievable rate. It’s not unfair to say that many trade fairs until recently had been seen by their organisers pretty much a way of renting space to companies. Yet Midem, part of the Reed MIDEM group, has blazed a trail and is re-inventing the way trade fairs see themselves and engage with their audiences.
Spare a thought for the music biz: over the past seven years, overall sales of recorded music have been slashed by 50%. Whole parts of the business, such as CD plants and retail outlets, are disappearing. Even professional users, such as video games and TV stations, are putting pressure on the rates to be paid. In fact, the very notion of a “record” business is no longer really applicable. Midem, as the worldwide music community’s annual gathering, has obviously been affected by this. Despite what you might think, the trade fair has been growing over the past few years (with the obvious exception of last January when it fell right after the credit crunch). How? By staying one step ahead of the game.
With the Cannes Fest (and its market) coming up, I’m reading a lot of blurbs, pitches and write-ups at the moment. These are the one- or two-line – sometimes only five-word – summaries that people use to grab our attention and perhaps give a little flavour of what the story is about. I always remember “Alien” being sold under the warning that “In space, no one can hear you scream“. The producers of “Speed” showed remarkable focus when they were pitching the project as “‘Die Hard’ on a bus“. That’s five words, folks. Considering the millions of profit it generated, I’d say that’s pretty effective writing.
So I thought I’d start a collection of killer taglines as I come across them. The opening salvo comes from the British company Swords & King.