Alex is a Senior Copywriting Lecturer at Vega School in Cape Town and a practicing professional copywriter. We found out more about his career...
Alex is a Senior Copywriting Lecturer at Vega School in Cape Town and a practicing professional copywriter. We found out more about his career and share some of his advice for others looking to get into this line of work both in terms of copywriting and lecturing.
After graduating with an English, Politics and Economics degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, Alex started writing stories about the more offbeat aspects of his home city’s culture and people. A series of these vignettes was published in the Mail & Guardian. “Soon I was the KZN Arts & Culture correspondent for the M&G. For four years I wrote about art, theatre, dance, music and cinema in KZN and won the Thomas Pringle Award from the South African English Institute for my efforts” he says.
He was then head-hunted by an executive at Ogilvy, an international advertising company, and offered a job as a copywriter. At the time, he says, he didn’t even know what a copywriter was. “My school guidance counsellors appeared oblivious to the existence of ‘copywriting’ as a viable and lucrative vocation for students who loved words, language, arguing, articulating ideas… “
“But soon I was crafting concept-driven narrative for brands such as Old Mutual, Unilever, Mondi, Wonderbra, East Coast Radio and more in mediums from print to billboard to online to interactive. It was exciting, fun and it paid well. How come the guidance counselling profession hadn’t heard of this?!”
After making the transition from practicing copywriter to copywriting lecturer seven years ago, he hasn’t looked back. “I continue to be inspired and fulfilled by guiding hungry young minds toward richly rewarding academic and professional careers. In my tenure as Senior Copywriting Lecturer thus far I have navigated my students to 11 Loeries (including the coveted Campaign Gold in 2017) and 6 Pendorings.”
Alex shared what his day to day looks like. To make the teaching and learning experience at Vega a more dynamic one, the creative degrees (Copywriting, Graphic Design, Multimedia Design) are broken into theory classes; craft classes; individual feedback sessions and in-studio work. “Daily activities predominantly involve lecturing, consulting and critiquing. Aside from the classes themselves, much time is spent on curriculum development – course content is in constant transformation in order to remain aligned with tumultuous changes in industry.”
It's no secret that Alex loves his work. He says the most rewarding part of his job as a lecturer “is seeing one’s students make that evolutionary leap from inchoate intellect to fully-fledged, self-actualised creative powerhouse. As they liberate themselves from their comfort zones and become aware of their true potential… witnessing that is pretty much as good as it gets as a lecturer.”
Copywriting is both an art and a craft, says Alex, so those looking for a career in copywriting need to be “utterly besotted” with both the art of writing and the craft of writing. A hyperactive imagination and an unquenchable desire to tell stories that are powerful, compelling, original and unexpected will always give you the edge.
Image credit: Gareth Brown
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