How did you get your start as a copywriter and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?
I was a #boring business student, stuck in #boring BA101 classes, obsessing over just how #boring they were. I honestly needed something more stimulating, an excuse to write words that would be used for outlets other than memos or quarterly reports. To my luck, I discovered my good ol’ state school, the University of Oregon, housed an admirable advertising program inside our Journalism school. Cut to two minutes later, I enter its doors, lost and stumbling, when an advisor takes me in, illuminating me on the industry. Note, I had never seen Mad Men so I had no idea this was a real, fully functioning workforce. When I was told that there was an actual role, that was essentially creative problem solving via word wielding, I was sold. Three years later, countless clubs, classes, and failed creative ventures later, I moved to New York. Enter Virtue, the creative agency by Vice, who took me from intern to full time, and I haven’t stopped growing since.
How much has the role changed since you joined the industry? Do you believe the craft has suffered because of these changes?
Well I only officially joined the club in Summer 2018, so I’m still figuring this shit out. Time is a construct, and it seems to be moving faster than ever. Just know your ideas can literally live anywhere, especially in places that barely even exist today. The craft never suffers, it adapts, and you better adapt with it.
What set of skills do you believe it takes for a copywriter to thrive in the current advertising landscape?
Don’t just be on the pulse of culture. Be a part of it. Inject yourself in the bloodstream. Be active on Twitter. TikTok. Sell some clothes on DePop. Go live on Twitch. Hell, post a Facebook story! I don’t care, just do it. Be the insight strategy searches for.
Where do you seek inspiration that helps you in your craft?
From looking beyond the industry. Books, music, and Twitter are one thing, but really the answer is… Film! I am obsessed with movies, always have and always will be. And being in New York, there’s no reason not to utilize the extreme film scene here to my advantage. I especially enjoy going to Q&A’s with the cast and crew and hearing their behind-the-scenes process. Gleaning insights into their thoughts, problem solving, and intentions leaves me more invigorated and inspired than ever.
What’s the most challenging aspect of the job? What helps keep the work interesting for you?
Finding the fuel to write, especially when the days grind into nights.
Also, if I’m being candid, how fake advertising can all seem. In the age of the ethical brand, it’s hard to take them seriously all the time when clear patterns and behaviors say otherwise, yet you’re tasked with promoting their prolific vision to the world. So know your boundaries, your beliefs, and never sacrifice them.
Fight instead for the work that excites you, which doesn’t always have to be brand-defining, world-changing words. It can be as simple as something that makes just one person smile.
Is there a part of the role that you feel is often misunderstood? If so what?
That you’re your biggest advocate. The promoter of your own club. Especially early on. Find a way to communicate your ideas. Always have rationale. Writing is half the battle, talking and presenting is the true test. Make your voice heard.
Is there any advice would you give to young copywriters who’ve just entered the business?
You’re literally the audience that most advertisers are looking to bank off of. So don’t be afraid to gut check the fuck out of the work that comes by you. Embrace your viewpoint, don’t shy away from it.
Read The Room. Be perceptive. Keep your eyes out. Literally feel the vibes. Understand what’s going on, follow up with people specifically if you notice issues. And if things are tense but not your problem, don’t make it worse.
Is there a piece of work your most proud of?Yes, the HBO Box. Some things you can’t believe get made, and this is one of them. Please watch it in all its glory here.