What I know about copywriting: Laura Jordan Bambach

Co-founder of SheSays and the Cannt Festival. D&AD president 2013-14. Creative partner at Mr President. Who better for us to talk to about copywriting and creativity than Laura Jordan Bambach?

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Laura Jordan BambachInspiration is the accumulation and connection of disparate elements and triggers to create new bubbles of magic. So I try to fill my head with as much stimulus as possible, from everywhere I can. Take every opportunity to gather new things to smash together.

A lot of my inspiration comes from being out and about, whether in London or travelling (which I do a lot). For example I walk to work in in the morning across London – about an hour and a half – and look and think about everything I see along the way. I take different routes just to shake it up a bit too.

Music, film and art are big areas for me to get ideas from. I subscribe to MUBI which I love – I probably get through a good three feature films a week that way. And I’m permanently connected to Spotify – always exploring new tunes. I love the Wellcome Collection in Euston for really interesting, intellectually challenging shows, but often just pop into a gallery as I walk past it. The Photographer’s Gallery is also a wonderful place to spend a few hours.

Finally my dreams – I’m a big and vivid dreamer and write it all down. It’s where your subconscious finally gets space to process all of the inputs above, and start connecting dots. It’s where I get a lot of my ‘Eureka!’ moments. You never know when you might just dream the answer to a problem – it happens more often than you’d imagine.

Can creative copywriting be taught? 

I think creative copywriting can be taught, by learning through doing more than in a formal lesson, but you have to have a passion for words first and a willingness to take the time to hone your skills. It takes years to learn the soft skills and discipline around copywriting to be able to properly find the voice of a brand (or build one) and deliver it in the simplest, clearest way.

Humour is a harder thing to teach because you have to learn to be funny from someone else’s point of view to make it true to the brand personality. It’s harder to step out of your own skin when it comes to being funny. It certainly seems like some copywriters are innately better at a particular style of writing, be it humorous or straight, than others.

Should copywriters take more risks with the work they produce? And clients with the work they buy?

All creativity is about being curious, exploring and taking risks. As an industry we have become markedly more risk-averse since the 2008 financial crisis. On both sides of the fence (agency and client). The budget and appetite for exploratory work isn’t necessarily there any more (though restricted budgets can breed more creativity too, if the will to experiment is there). There are fewer big, bold campaigns to sink your teeth into these days too. It all feels pretty beige out there at the moment, but there are some great clients out there too. I’d love to see a more hungry approach on both sides!

Is the traditional ad agency copywriter / art director partnership still relevant today?

Teamwork is so important, it’s so hard to get to the best idea on your own. But the traditional partnership is not so necessary now. There are plenty of great people in all sorts of teams and structures these days. However, an expertise in the craft of copy is important, and sometimes undervalued or forgotten because of the growth of jack-of-all-trades teams. There are plenty of opportunities in agencies for single copywriters who are just passionate about the craft too – such as journalism and editorial, content and scriptwriting, and long-form copy.

Are agencies doing enough to promote gender equality in creative roles?

Gender balance in the creative department is still a very real issue. There are so very few visible female leaders in the industry, and many agencies still have very male-influenced workplaces and conditions, which are harder for women to operate in successfully.

At the end of the day we need more women in creative roles because it’s better for business, and diversity of all kinds is better for ideas. But there’s a lot to do to make it an attractive role too.

Is this an exciting time to be a copywriter? Why?

It’s an exciting time to be in advertising – we are seeing creativity and creative agencies escape from the traditional boxes, and apply their ideas to bigger world problems and business challenges. Advertising has broken out of its box, and copywriting has never been so diverse, exciting, or able to make an impact.

Hear more of Laura Jordan Bambach’s thoughts on copywriting and creativity in her keynote speech at Copywriting Conference on 9 October 2015.

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