Is the writing on the wall?

8th July 2020

Is the writing on the wall?

There used to be a thing in advertising called ‘a long copy ad.’ This was generally a print ad with hundreds of words. Yes, seriously. Copywriters loved  them because it gave us a chance to actually write, play with words and fluff about. Sometimes there would be no visual at all. Can you imagine that? Ironically, the digital age has seen us revert to some old practices. The visual is 100% key now. It’s like the olden days when only the upper-class could read. The written word meant nothing to the bulk of the population. That’s why the visual dominated. Pubs were called The Goat in Boots and everyone knew it because there was a painting of a goat … in boots … hanging on the outside. Life was simple. Words weren’t necessary. Sure they were important to those writing legislation and law but they were a minority. And of course words were important to Shakespeare and Jane Austen, but generally speaking, reading was for the elite.

Which brings me back around to my point. Are words important anymore? Or words as we know them anyway. Is our new version of The Goat in Boots, emojis and text speak? Even though content is now king, is that content becoming exclusively visual or audible? As long as humans walk the earth there will be stories told. There always have been, since stories were told on cave walls. But in a few years, will a serious love of the written word, or even the need for words, be left to those lawyers and legislators. And will our great novels and stories be read by a very small group of avid bibliophiles. Will the vast majority of stories be shared by video, audio, emojis or a new text shorthand.

Just as letter writing has become a quaint relic from the past, will the actual written word become extinct? Even physical handwriting seems unnecessary today. A relatively cluey 5-year-old can use a keyboard. Is there anything wrong with not being able to hand write? A hell of a lot has changed in the last 20 years. Facebook is only sweet 16 years old and they hate text so much they brought in the 20% text rule. In 20, 50 or 100 years from now, will the written word as we know it be something from the ‘olden days’?

Jeff Smith, Senior Creative