Advertising creative copywriter

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Lisa Chapman is a junior copywriter for the international advertising agency in London. She works closely with an art director to come up with a combined visual of words and design for a client.

What is your agency like?

We have offices all over the world, even in Barbados! We do all types of advertising which you would see – TV, press, posters, radio and viral (or internet). We also produce material for use in direct mailing which means leaflets and mailers that come through your letterbox.

There are lots of young people here, so it's a fun working environment.

Why do you work in a team?

Creative people such as copywriters and art directors almost always come in teams because it is important to have someone to bounce ideas off. If you work in isolation, it is extremely difficult to judge how good your ideas are. You need to work with another person you feel comfortable with, who can recognise when you have a brilliant idea, or tell you when you're going off track.

What is actually involved in your job?

My partner and I get briefed on a product. We're told what its main selling point is, who we should be aiming at, what emphasis we should use and whether the clients wants TV, radio, press or posters. Then we set about exchanging ideas; putting them on paper and then selecting the best ones to work into a design.

What have you been doing this week?

Looking for directors to film a campaign we have in the pipeline. We meet with them, talk them through the script and they give us their interpretation of it. We've also been amending scripts for a casting session for some coffee ads and writing a radio script.

Who else do you work with?

We work with account handlers, account planners, creative directors and TV producers on a daily basis. The account handlers and planners liaise with the client to formulate the brief and we work with them throughout the process. We present our creative ideas to our creative directors who are our bosses – they have to approve our work. We then present our creative work to the client.

Do you work long hours?

Some days it can be really busy and you have to stay late, whereas on other days it can be more relaxed and you can work at your own pace. We have had to work at weekends during busy periods. Normally, we work a conventional 36-hour week.

What sort of equipment do you use?

You don't really need anything to come up with ideas, just a pen and paper. When we do posters or press adverts, we just draw them really simply. If the idea doesn't work in a simple line drawing, then it probably won't work at all.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I enjoy the brainstorming part of the process. It feels good when you really crack an idea.

What is the most difficult part of the job?

It can be difficult to keep your idea pure. It has to be approved by lots of people – account handlers, creative directors, clients – and everyone has a comment about it. We have to make sure that all these opinions don't ruin our original idea.

How did you get into your job?

After university, I did a postgraduate diploma in copywriting and art direction at West Hertfordshire College. I met my creative partner there, and we did a portfolio together, which is known as your 'book'. This is used to showcase your work to prospective employers.

Lisa's route to her creative copywriting job

  • Degree.
  • Postgraduate diploma in copywriting and art direction.

Lisa's tips

  • You need to have bags of dedication and perseverance.
  • Most of the ideas you come up with don't make it.
  • So, don't be put off by rejection – it is normal in this industry.

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Salary of an Advertising creative copywriter

  • Salaries vary enormously and depend on the size of the agency, where it is and what sort of work it does.
  • London agencies usually offer the highest wages.
  • Art directors and copywriters usually earn between £20,000 and £40,000 – depending on their agency and experience.
  • Successful creatives for leading agencies can earn more than £50,000.

How to become an advertising creative copywriter

  • Courses in advertising, communications and media studies are run up to postgraduate level.
  • The Communications and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) runs six Advanced Certificate courses. To get on a course you need at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), although many students have a degree. You can also study the programme part-time, once you've joined an agency.
  • The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the industry's trade body, encourages its agency members to become accredited under their Continuous Professional Development standard. These agencies offer an induction programme for new staff to access a range of courses and qualifications.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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