Copywriters are the brains behind the jingles that get stuck in our head after we hear them on the radio or on TV.
Essentially, they are advertising writers; who specialise in short-form copy. So, think headlines of magazines, the copy on packaging, the scripts in a TV ad.
Think, Nike “Just Do It”, L’Oréal: “Because You’re Worth It”, MasterCard: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”, McDonald’s: “I’m Lovin’ It” – you get the idea…
We spoke to Ernie Ciaschetti, a Saatchi copywriter about the industry, his role and his advice for landing a job at the holy grail of advertising.
FN: What do you love about your job?
I get a bit of a kick out seeing people say slogans that I have written, that’s for sure.
I know many people fast forward through the commercials they see on TV and disregard the print ads they see in magazines, I mean, there’s lots of bad advertising out there, but the really good work…it’s so good. It’s a fun industry to be in, you get to build the messaging that sells a brand. I love that I don’t just get to write. I also get to think about what makes people tick. What makes them laugh. What makes them cry. We have the job of selling a product or sending a message in only a few words, and that’s a challenge!
FN: What is it like working in an agency in your role?
It’s exciting! It is such a fun and lively industry to be in. We have some great clients here at Saatchi, we work on Cadbury’s ads, Toyota’s ad, St George’s… that’s just a few. These Aussie favourite are so rewarding to work on, it means we get to develop some really good content!
One of the best bits about this industry, and my role is that no day is ever the same… but the process of copywriting goes a little like this.
Firstly, we will get a brief from a client, you know, “we want to launch a new chocolate bar” and then my boss and I will spend three days brainstorming a creative campaign that will do that in a new, fresh and effective way.
The first day might just be snowballing ideas, trying to think outside the box. The next few days are getting your concepts onto paper.
Once we write the pitch (which is our idea) the client will assess it, and from this point we work on matching their ideas with our ideas to see the campaign come to life.
FN: So, do you sometimes feel that you do great work, that the client might kill it in the review process?
Absolutely! You can pull an idea together over three days which you LOVE, but then the client says no. This kind of thing happens every day. To be honest, less than 1 percent of that work ever makes it in front of a client, and less than .01 percent of it gets produced.
A lot of great work gets killed before it even makes it out of the building. But that is the thing about copywriting, you cant be precious to feedback.
You need to accept feedback and built on it, there is no time for egos.
FN: What makes someone good at your job?
Well, writing skills, most obviously. You need to be creative, and a people’s person too. You need to get in the mind of your consumer… which most of the time, isn’t you! You may need to work out how to sell a mortgage to a 55 year old woman, or a movie to a 15 year old girl!
FN: How did you land your job as a copywriter?
It doesn’t get better than interning. Internships are the real thing. It’s one thing to study something in school, one thing to write headlines in your notebook at night, but to be surrounded by a bunch of creative people is where you will really get the most learning.
FN: Any advice for interns?
Show that you are willing to learn and ask for opportunities, and chances are, you’ll get them.
If this sounds like it could be for you, find the course you need.
Or land yourself the dream internship.
Having a University degree is definitely helps to land job in copywriting… but it is not strictly necessary. Relevant courses for copywriting are things like, journalism, marketing or communications. In these programs, you’ll get a comprehensive overview of the industry and take courses in mass communications law, public relations, consumer behaviour, communications theory, and strategic campaigning. You’ll also grow your creativity and learn to produce copy for different types media.
Though, remember that in this industry most employers will be far more concerned with your experience and attitude than your education.
An absolute must for any copywriter is having your own website. This should be professional, specific to your copywriting work, and not linked to your personal web presence in any way. Similarly, you should have completely separate social media for your professional work (and make sure your personal accounts are completely private if there’s anything on there you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see!).