Saturday, February 15, 2014

'Mad Men' cocktail hour: copywriting tours for Viator and creating Mad Men avatars on the side

This week marks my first foray into my new role at Viator, where I've held a copywriting contract for more than one year. I recently received a non-promotion promotion to copy editor, now dividing my hours between writing online tour brochures and editing them. It's great adding more to my skills set and expanding my reach in armchair travel from my Asia and Latin America/Caribbean 'products' (as we call them) to--thus far--the wine chateaux of France and the Gardens of Versailles (or: the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Versailles Gardens, as I noted for style consistency and SEO). Of course, the process of copywriting already incorporates copy editing. Each time I set out to write the introductory summary, highlights and descriptive itinerary of a tour, I reword and rearrange information from the tour supplier, often supplemented with online research. Sometimes I receive nonsensical sentences, such as: "Explore with us the treats of yesteryear with the humble Penang Lobak, the Appoms and Kuihs found only in the Penang backstage." 

That itinerary was supplied for a street food tour that, with some help from the web, turned into this:
Explore the back lanes of Penang off the beaten track, where you’ll taste delightful snacks, drinks and desserts. Infused with spices, Malaysian food showcases a unique cultural fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors. Try Penang lobak, a spiced deep-fried pork roll, among other savory snacks.
When it’s time for dessert, taste a sweet Indian pancake called an apom — deliciously crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Or sink your teeth into a bite-sized kuih, a traditional sweet treat made of sticky glutinous rice. Along the way, listen to your foodie guide describe the street-food phenomenon of Penang.
Once in a while I'm given an extra project, like when my editor asked if there were any "Mad Men" fans among us to write a Mad Men cocktail tour of Manhattan. Admittedly, sometimes my online research takes me a bit off the beaten track, as when I discovered this Mad Men Yourself Avatar Maker--an easy-to-use design complete with a choice of clothing, accessories, props and backdrop.
The good 'ole days: chain-smoking and bloody Mary's in the boardroom
Peggy writes new copy while smoking Joan wonders who's that gray-haired pregnant girl.
Don and Megan are hamming it up on another beach business trip. Uh-oh! Here comes Betty!
Ah, yes, back to the task at hand. Here's a screen shot of the final copy, now a 'live' tour on the website and available for purchase. Some of the snappy prose, such as 'chain-smoking, booze-soaked debauchery,' came straight from the tour supplier whereas other phrasing like 'the good old days at the office, sipping a Bloody Mary in the boardroom or taking your clients for cocktail-hour martinis at the swankiest spot in town' are my own.

Continue reading this Mad Men Tour at VIATOR

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