Hans van Dijk started his career in 1976 at Ogilvy & Mather in Amsterdam, to join Kuiper & Schouten in 1985. He (and others) started Low Digital in 1997 and in 2001 the Amsterdam based Skipintro, where he still works as CD today. Hans did heaps of work in the Netherlands, making him one of the most famous copywriters of the country. On top of that, he is the author of the Dutch book ‘Zapklare Brokken’, a guide about (nearly) everything you should know about advertising.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a copywriter. My claim to fame is that for a few years I was the most awarded copywriter, which was mainly due to there being two (2!) copywriting Hans-van-Dijk’s in Dutch advertising. We had slightly different specialities, so together we won in all categories.
After being a traditional copywriter I started – with other people – an online advertising agency in 1997. And Skipintro in 2001.
What motivated you to write ‘Zapklare Brokken’?
A lot of people are trying to get into advertising. Many are turned down or give up. Not because they lack the talent but because agencies expect them to perform from the very beginning. Agencies don’t take the time to nurture talent.
I struggled to get in myself (this was way back: copy was still being written on Underwood typewriters) and it took me a 10 years before I really understood something about this business.
I hope the book makes it a bit easier to get in and to get ahead.
What do you enjoy most about the advertising world?
The best thing is coming up with ideas. On a quiet morning you utter a few words. Your mate stares out the window and says some even better words.
Miraculously these words lead to something that half the nation sees. They may even like it. Sometimes people all around the world take the trouble to look at what you started on a quiet morning.
What makes an advertisement good? (or bad)
I wish I knew. There are lots of clichés about this and they are all true. And they help in judging ideas, but they are useless when inventing ideas.
What’s the most common misconception about being an advertising person?
Some people think advertising is some kind of rock & roll. In reality advertising agencies are dull places. Two people staring silently at a jar of beans.
What skills are most important for a copywriter?
Curiosity. What is this product or brand really about? What do people think about these kind of products? What can we tell that could interest them? Who is this woman in the reception?
And last, how should one become a great copywriter?
Have lots of fun. And the good fortune to run into good people.