I was a writer since I have known myself. I started writing stories, drawing inspiration from my favorite childhood classics by Enid Blyton. But as time went by, my penchant for keeping writing decelerated with the pressure to perform equally well at school.Being the timorous person I was, these stories remained concealed and lost somewhere vividly in my memories. I moved on…. But, reflecting back on those years, I never stopped writing or thinking about it.This wasn’t surprising giventhat I live the life of a writer, specifically a digital copywriter—living, breathing, and writing stories for advertisements.
When I graduated from the Academy of Art University with an M.A in Advertising, one of the most strongly debated topics in the field was whether one’s ability to write or one’s ability to sell is more important than the other. Mainly because, unlike writing, copywriting captures the reader’s attention to take any action, whether it is to buy, subscribe, or engage in the product or service. However, some people think that asubpar writer can still write great copy as long as it sells. But I’d arguebecause, in order to be a copywriter, you’d first need to be a writer.
As I worked towards my degree, I ventured into conceptualizing for variedadvertising campaigns that demanded versatile writing prowess. This requirement affirmed my decision to take classes that focused on whetting my writing skills while learning about the effects of Modernism and Colonialism, Structuralism, Orientalism in the literary culture, and the impact of Mediascapes, Ideoscapes, and Ethnoscapes on print media in a global society. It is during this time that I learned that some of the great copywriters I know havebackgrounds in Creative Writing. Anyone can gain an understanding of the principles of copywriting and the art of selling, but honing one’s writing skills takes practice, patience, and lots of time. That’s why I think every copywriter should follow the literary works of great writers, because what’s a better place to learn than from literature.
How can we analyze examples of classic and contemporary print literature (picture books, novels, short stories, poetry) with digital media (interactive website, blog, film, animation, graphic narrative) in order to develop new media in formal and informal settings with a range of established and emerging technologies? And what can we learn about the way that the audience consumes and produces emerging media?
As I pursue a Ph.D. in English, these questions will drive my research.
“All well-written advertisement is literature, and all literature is an advertisement”I quote Elbert Hubbard here because literature is able to permeate a readers’ mind and ensure change. If nothing changes, it’s a narrative, a tranche de vie, anything but not literature. I have read a few tranches de vies, but I can barely remember them. I have also read Anna Karenina, Les Misérables, The Bluest Eye, and How to Kill a Mockingbird. These are powerful stories. These impacted me and changed the way I think.
In lieu of a formal introduction of my research interests, I shall offer a summary of how I melded the spirit of literatureintothe integrated digital campaigns I worked on. For the 2020 US Census, we focused on inspiriting the African American Community to participate in the Census for the better allocation of funds and facilities in their communities. I was tasked with streamlining elaborate messages to be communicated to the consumer as a simple task of “Taking the 2020 US Census”. The content across the campaign was conceived between the spacesof idyllic perquisites of participating in the census and the harsh reality of non-participation. The copy for each piece within the campaign became an interesting literary form interpreted as a compelling call to action- engaging the reader to do something.
Imagine Integrated Digital Campaignsas a tapestry with layers of design weaved onto it, making it a unified work of art. The layers being the plot, the characterization, and the setting, similar to the construct of literature from the eighteenth century. The storyline is placed within a paradisiac setting similar to classic children’s literature from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These elements were the driving force behind the Oakland Parks and Recreation Campaign. The aim was to steer children towards indulging in nature and physical activities to nourish their young bodies and minds.The campaign, “Learn, Grow and Play, Everyday,” was portrayed as a child’s fantasy, short episodic and diverse, all conveying the benefits of spending time outdoors, making it an ingenious way to tell a story.
It was also important for me as a writer to look beyond the traditional constructs of literatureinto more cultural forms that weren’t “consecrated” in world literature. As we continue to progress with technology and media, the meanings of what is perceived and not perceived as literature continue to grow more convoluted and cryptical.I wanted to address the literary culture more inclusively, to provide an understanding of its social entanglements, while my team devised a campaign for Chevrolet’s Discover the Unexpected. Chevrolet and National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) were offering HBCU students an opportunity of a lifetime to “Discover the Unexpected” about their communities, their careers, and themselves. Our campaign built an innovative, digital, and social platform forthe students from various backgrounds and experiences to compile inspirational stories inthe Black community. And with the integration of media ranging fromprint and production to videography and photography, each studentdocumented cultural, timeless, and impactful digital content.
Writing for diverse campaigns lent me the opportunity to become better acquainted with the essentials of historical research. Because history is an account of everything that happened, and therefore all history is advertising. Though I cannot foretell where my questions might lead me at school, I expect that it will address the marginalization of literature. I also wish to employ literary criticism as a tool toexamine the cornerstones ofemerging media/ digital media as a cohesive group of materials and conventional literary forms.
I am indeed proud of my journey as a writer/copywriter, but I should also strongly convey that at the heart of my specific goals as a researcher lies a more concentrated interest in analyzing literary approach in developing new media with a range of established and emerging technologies. Texas A&M’s program appeals to my goals, mainly because of its outstanding faculty and cross-disciplinary approach to writing. In my pursuit of graduate programs apt for my ambitions, I was elated to learn about how many professorsspecialize in 20th and 21st Century Studies, American Literature, Creative Writing, and Literary Criticism. With Professor Sara DiCaglio, Professor Susan Stabile, and Professor Vasilakis Apostolos’s expertise in aforesaid areas of my research interest, I believe that my experience at Texas A&M would be stimulating and gratifying. And in addition, Texas A&M provides a refreshing atmosphere for me to cultivate my interdisciplinary interests, an incomparable option that sets apart the Texas A&M English program from other institutions. Given the opportunity, I hope to foster fruitful relations with other departments, namely the Department of Communication, to broaden and supplement my research.
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