Also known as...
The role in brief...
Copywriters are responsible for the creation and development of advertising ideas, with particular focus on the written words (copy) within these. This copy can be long or short form and be anything from headlines and body copy for print advertising, to TV commercial scripts, radio scripts, direct marketing leaflets, mobile applications and websites. Their imagination and flair for writing allows them to create persuasive, engaging copy that helps to solve genuine business problems for their agency’s clients.
- Internal: Art Director(s); Creative Director; Account management team; Planners; Creative Services and production staff.
- External: Print producers; Commercials directors; Commercials producers.
- Copywriters usually partner with Art Directors to form creative teams for the purpose of working on creative briefs within an agency, with the Art Director having greater focus on the visual idea and execution of the final output. They may also be found in a copy department in some agencies.
- Understanding the context that lies behind a client’s business and communications need, and the key proposition and creative brief that is provided as the basis for their work.
- Understanding the target audience and proposed media to be used in the campaign.
- Devising and developing original advertising and communications ideas that engage the target audience and address the client’s business problem.
- Presenting ideas to the Creative Director/Head of Copy for approval and development, and writing copy through several stages of concepts and executions.
- Generating and maintaining enthusiasm for ideas within the agency (and with clients in more client-facing Copywriter roles) as they move from concept to execution.
- Responding positively to client and research feedback and continuing to develop the work until final approval stage.
- Working alongside the Art Director to select all photographers, illustrators, Animators, TV Production companies and Directors, and models and cast involved in the creative production. In larger agencies they will also work closely with Art Buyers and inhouse TV Producers to achieve this.
- Overseeing the production of creative outputs e.g. print advertisements, TV commercials, mailings, social media content, etc. In some agencies they may work with Art Buyers and in-house TV Producers to accomplish this.
Those who succeed are...
- Have a strong and flexible writing style
- Passionate about good writing.
- Able to write clear, accurate, persuasive copy that can engage different audiences.
- Imaginative and full of ideas.
- Able to distinguish between a central, core idea and the executional possibilities it gives rise to.
- Fascinated by people, advertising and brands, constantly curious.
- Able to apply creative thinking to business problems.
- Communicators who can ‘sell’ ideas in an inspirational way.
- Team players, who can operate effectively under pressure and to tight deadlines, tight budgets and client mandatories
- Tenacious and resilient throughout the frustrations of an iterative process.
- Aware of the basics of legal and regulatory background which must be adhered to.
- Keen to learn from other creatives and via reviewing award winning ads, for example D&AD ‘pencils’.
- Aware of the power of brands.
Where they come from, and where they go...
Copywriters come from a variety of backgrounds, although will typically have a degree in a relevant subject such as creative advertising, or English. Those studying on dedicated advertising courses, including vocational post-graduate courses, will often form partnerships with an Art Director while studying. They will then look for a first job as a team with many post-graduate courses offering placements within the programme of study. This is done by developing a ‘book’, or portfolio, of work to show Creative Directors at meetings and interviews.
Copywriters can also be taken on following agency apprenticeship schemes where there is no requirement for a degree, although A-Levels, or equivalent are still expected.
As Copywriters become more senior, working on bigger and more important briefs within the agency, they are often referred to as ‘Middleweight’ or ‘Heavyweight’ Creatives, with some then becoming Creative Directors in their own right. In larger agencies a stepping stone to becoming Creative Director is the role of Group Creative Director, overseeing a handful of creative teams rather than the entire creative department. Others may prefer to ply their writing skills independently as freelancers, working across a number of agencies and clients.