When I started out as a copywriter in a medium-sized translation office in Miyakojima, Osaka, I had more translation and technical writing jobs than anything very creative… but in that first year, a huge job landed on my desk, unbeknownst to me. The job was simple, the client wanted a rewrite and “native check” from a random gaijin on staff – me. The original headline was a single sentence, roughly worded. Something like, “We can see the future on this LSI.” Of course, nobody knew (and to this day, nobody knows) what an LSI was, so: “Large-scale integration (LSI) is the process of integrating or embedding thousands of transistors on a single silicon semiconductor microchip.” In semiconductor manufacturing circles, it refers to a specific kind of microchip.
I tried to convince the client to replace “LSI” with “microchip” for a few hours, but to no avail – the nomenclature was set in stone. So I suggested “The Future is on LSIs,” and promptly moved onto the next job. I was used to knocking out several quick jobs a day, so I didn’t really give it a second thought. Until I was watching TV one day half a year later and saw Jeff Goldblum, in the desert, with a spiky haircut, speaking words I had written:
It was my proudest day as a copywriter.
Later in my career, I would work with advertising legends like Leo Burnett on hot accounts like Sony Vaio, Virgin Records, and the Honda Insight, but I would always be drawn back to that hot day in the translation office in Osaka.