Friday, April 13, 2012

AH, COPYWRITER? WHAT'S THAT?

I've jumped from one company to another. In a span of nine years, I've worked in four companies. I started as a production staff in ABS-CBN, moved to ABC5 (now TV5), worked as a Language Instructor or teaching Filipino to foreigners while doing freelance writing, and now making my living as an Advertising Copywriter and Events Organizer in Brunei Darussalam. On the side, I do events hosting and planning.

I tell you, it's never easy to explain the kind of profession I have especially for a person who's unaware of the ropes of the advertising and creative industry.

For example, normally in a gathering, the moment I open my mouth on what I do for a living, I get the usual "Ah, copywriter? Ano yon?" Then I start to talk about and "report" what does a copywriter do. While most people associate a copywriter to journalism or PR writing, I tell them that it's different. Eventually, when I start to mention design and advertising, the people that I talk with start to somehow understand the nature of my job.

But what's funny, some people have different interpretations on my job as a copywriter. Let me tell you the stand out banters.




With a degree in creative writing in Filipino, a lot of exposure on Philippine language and literature, and units in Broadcast Communication as part of my interdisciplinary course at UP,  landing a job in the media industry has become bearable and even more enjoyable.

As I said, I started out as production staff at ABS-CBN. I was in the Kapamilya Network back in 2004. From starting as a PA, I rose to becoming one of the network's writer and segment producer.

Eventually, I moved in to ABC5 (Now TV5). Our team pioneered Philippine Idol, which franchise was bought by GMA7.

After years of working in the media industry, I faced what you call a quarter life crisis. Despite "living" the dream of shaping my career in the broadcast industry, I felt that something is lacking. So, I decided to get a part-time job and enroll in a Masters degree. I somehow veered away from my idea of becoming a TV director or producer and picked up the pieces on venturing into teaching while doing some creative media works.

Year 2007 walked in an I enrolled in a Masters degree at UP Diliman. I took MA Broadcast Communication. On the side, I worked as a Language Instructor at Asian Center for Foreign Languages while doing some writing and production jobs.

Then a job offer from Brunei walked in my life in 2008. I was not sure about Brunei. I don't where it is. Okay, blame it to my dearth of knowledge in my geography class. But what's positive, I was aggressive to give it a try.

So, in 2008 I flew in Brunei Darussalam, the abode of peace. My luggage was full of hope and drive to once again resurrect myself in making an impact in the creative industry.

So now, I'm working as an Advertising Copywriter and Events Organizer. The former job is part of my contract. While the latter one has been discovered and created over the years because of exposure, affiliations and lots of chika and daldal.

Advertising is a challenging yet fun job. Similar with my job in ABS-CBN and TV5, as a writer, you have to come up with the best and creative piece and approaches in your piece to make an impact to your client, make sales or ratings, and etch "recall" to your audience. However, there are differences.

In a television network, as a scriptwriter, in my case for example in a lifestyle show or variety show, you are given a segment to write. While there are brainstorming sessions, you are in control of the creative direction of your script which will eventually be checked and approved by the headwriter and executive producer.

In the advertising agency, while you maneuver your idea and words, joining bidding sessions is critical. There are a lot of advertising agencies who would be called for presentation on fresh and innovative concepts for a specific campaign. The best presentation and concept wins the bidding.  A copywriter, the whole team - graphic designer, creative director, art director, and account executive - play a big part in the success of winning a bidding. That is achieved through brainstorming and critique of the artwork and copy.

Since I work in a small advertising company, there's not much "bidding" that takes place. Our longest running client, a bank, has been with the company for the past 17 years already. And with Brunei's size and a little knowledge on how "advertising" really works, only few companies invest on advertising. Some even associate advertising with pure design.

And so the problem goes whenever I speak about my job. When someone asks me, "What do you do for a living," I say, "I'm an Advertising Copywriter." Then I get the "huh?" and "what's that?"

Here's the funny analysis and associations that I get from strangers, acquaintances and even with my friends.

Sample 1:
Me: I'm a Copywriter (I try to omit "Advertising")
Person 1: So you write in a newspaper?

Sample 2:
Me: Copywriter po.
Person 2: Anong kinokopya mo?

Sample 3:
Me: Oh, I work as a copywriter.
Person 3: Is that the one who does copyright?

Sample 4:
Me: Ay, Copywriter. Advertising.
Person 4:  So you draw and design?

Sample 5:
Me: Yes, Copywriter in an Advertising Agency.
Person 5: Agency? Saang bansa kayo nagpapadala ng tao?

Sample 6:
Me: Copywriter.
Person 6: Anong librong sinulat mo?

Sample 7:
Me: Copywriter in an Advertising Agency.
Person 7: Can teach me photoshop?

Sample 8:
Me: Advertising Copywriter.
Person 8: Can I print in your office? (Kaloka at akala eh printing house kami at ako ang magprint)

Sample 9:
Me: Oh yes, advertising copywriter.
Person 9: You do wedding invitation lah? Can write invitation ah? Can?

Sample 10:
Me: Copywriter.
Person 10: Do you sell paper? (Ano kami, school supplies shop?)


Isn't it funny? So with years of encounter with such comments, I've already mastered the art of ignoring and explaining further my profession.

As I always say, apart from writing the texts or "copy" in various communication collaterals ranging from above-the-live and below-the-line channels, a copywriter's mind play a role in the creative process. A copywriter has to translate the creative vision of the team through exciting and attention grabbing words, which needs to blend and gel the visualization of the art director and graphic designer. On one hand, in track record, most copywriters are promoted from Junior to Senior status. Eventually, with great grip and creativity of the job, a copywriter may become a Creative Director.

In my case, I'm not targeting to become a Creative Director. As you all know, I'm in the stage of my life on shifting to the academe; a reason why I kept on pushing myself on getting a PhD and eventually stepping in into teaching in a University. Oh yes, I recently finished my MA in Development Communication. At least, with a holistic and versatile experience I had in the media and creative industry, I can teach more - both in the practical and theoretical aspect.

Meanwhile, winner talaga yung nagsabi sa akin ng, "Ano ang kinokopya mo!" Niliteral ang concept ng "Copy."Award lang! 

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