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2018 Antwerpen

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12.10.15 - 1pm

Cheered and approved: ‘Fuck fake’

Fuck soaked jeans and fuck traffic lights that flip to orange. In my mind, a novice conspiracy theory between all traffic lights in Antwerp had already started to unravel, until I realized my mind was doing what it does best: straying away from the topic. What I actually wanted to talk about tonight is this: fuck fake.


Let me repeat that for you one more time: fuck fake. Sounds good, doesn't it? It's the tagline of online magazine Charlie. In your face and no nonsense. A bit like Jozefien Daelemans herself - driving force behind Charlie. Perhaps a bit nervous at first, she addressed a packed Pop Up Class in the Opera House tonight. No need for that Jozefien, the story behind Charlie magazine alone was impressive enough to silence the entire crowd. For a moment, it even looked like the buses on the noisy Rooseveltplaats around the corner decided to stop humming.

I'm not going to repeat the story behind Charlie. Jozefien tells it way better and hey, you could've gotten out of your lazy chair yourself. What I do want to talk about is something that came up during the Q & A. About their website clicks. Where they come from and which "tricks' Charlie uses to get people to read their pieces. That was the question. Charlie has about 50 000 readers in a "bad month', 200 000 in a good one. Remarkable numbers, for sure. But even more remarkable is the fact that these clicks are all generated through readers sharing the content on their own Twitter or Facebook profiles. My jaw dropped. Well, almost, that is. I was just devouring a Pop Up Class cupcake. They were delicious, by the way.


Back to those numbers. And how thrilling it would be to achieve the same stats for our clients at nine o'clock somewhere, where I work as a copywriter. The reality though, is that you need to boost every Facebook post with a significant budget nowadays for a potential consumer to even see it, let alone share it. Partially because of Facebook, being the huge commercial machine it is today, but - I believe - because of the relevance of the content as well. Or should I say irrelevance. Brands only want one thing: to translate their brand message as clearly as possible. Unfortunately, "clear' often means "literally'. And so, I'm often forced to write and rewrite things until they're just a boring, commercial version of the original, drained of any creativity whatsoever. Only to hear we should add some more budget because the post didn't obtain the desired reach. "Duuuuuh'. Of course people don't share nor like these posts. There's nothing in it for them. An added value of zero. Shouting out your message, just to turn your head a second later, is out of date. It's not effective and it's exactly why people fast forward TV commercials these days.


The worst part is a lot of brands don't seem to grasp it. Even when experts spell it out for them. The reality remains, agencies work on behalf of clients and thus financially depend on them. And so the creative carte blanche which is promised initially, rapidly fades into a carte grise, limitations included.

Who needs to shout this out for them, then? Readers, viewers, consumers, … "HEY BRAND! WAKE UP! WE CAN'T GO ON LIKE THIS ANYMORE!' And yes, all caps are in order! But then the question arises: do they still care enough to shout back? 

- by Anke Van Goethem, our copywriter.