Shoot the copywriters!

There follows an extract from an unaddressed appeal letter sent out by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Reader discretion is advised.

“Dear Friend,

“First of all an apology.

“I know you didn’t ask me to write to you. Yet, here I am – writing to you anyway – expecting you to give up a few moments of your time. You’re probably just thinking. “oh dear, not another charity asking me for money.

“If that’s the case then I’m sorry.

“But the fact of the matter is that I need to write to you. I need to write to you on behalf of thousands of children who have nobody else to speak up for them – children who need someone to turn to. And yes, it’s about money. I’m writing to ask you if you’ll consider making a regular gift to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

“But, to be honest, I’m never sure how I’m supposed to do this. I mean, what works for some people doesn’t work for others. And the subject is so utterly appalling that for me to do it justice in a mere letter is unthinkable.”

And so it goes on, for four whole sides of dead tree derivative, with such gems of sub-headings as “At first I thought I’d try and shock you” and “Then it struck me”. Did it really, Mr Copywriter?

There follows an open letter to the NSPCC…


“I urge you to think twice about using WWAV RappCollins for your future marketing campaigns. That is, unless its collective creative genius can come up with something considerably better than the execrable “An Apology” letter concept. As a journalist I have to deal every day with PR/marketing firms and their occasionally piss-poor copywriters, but the NSPCC appeal letter that landed in my mailbox this morning, and within two minutes was fed to my ravenous shredder, is particularly nauseating.

“The NSPCC is a respected agency of civil society. You should appeal for donations by explaining what you do, highlighting your achievements, outlining the challenges ahead and making the case. But for goodness sake cease and desist with these contemptible apology-style letters that risk bringing your organisation into disrepute.”

Yours sincerely,
Francis Sedgemore
Freelance journalist (and occasional copywriter/editor)

Come the revolution, the marketing execs and PRs will be first up against the wall. Oh yes.