‘Embrace your differences’ by @maryjohansen_

Embrace your differences.

By Mary Johansen

One of the most common things people in adland ask me when realising I’m Norwegian AND a copywriter is, ‘How does that feel/work?’ Depending on the person, their tone of voice can be everything from condescending to curious. I do get where they’re coming from a lot of the time – especially with the ingrained belief that all copywriters have to be masters of the English language. I agree with that, but does that mean that you have to be British? No. ‘However great your English may be, it’ll never be your mother tongue’, you might say. That’s true, but as long as you read, absorb and study the language with love and enthusiasm, you’ll be alright.

That’s not the point of this though. I genuinely believe that there are several advantages to being a foreign creative. Why? Because adland desperately needs diversity. Advertising is all about seeing things in a new way, and if you’re just like everyone else, you won’t. If you’re foreign, chances are you’ve been raised very differently from the average ad man, and that’s a plus. You can bring new, interesting additions to the table, and those can be exactly what’s needed to come up with the big idea.

More importantly though, you won’t have the same view of British brands as your partner might have. Maybe because you don’t know them, or maybe because they don’t mean the same thing to you. Sometimes having a fresh view on a brand or product is exactly what you need. During a masterclass last term, one of the most memorable pieces of advice we got was to read the brief and take notes before starting to research the brand or product. That’s because you can always learn more about it, but you can’t unlearn it.

Foreigners naturally have a fresh perspective on brands that are heavily engrained in British culture. And seeing as many creative directors want to see a completely new angle on an existing brand in a student portfolio, this may very well be your superpower.

What I’m trying to say is that, if you’re really want to be a creative, then for god’s sake, don’t let the fact that you’re foreign stop you. If you do, you’ll just prove all the a-holes wrong.

So all my fellow foreigners – keep asking interesting and ignorant questions, and keep writing.

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