Is SCA a cult in disguise? By @petranandersson

By Petra Andersson


Is SCA a cult in disguise?


I’ve just returned to London after spending my Easter break in Sweden – which was great. Even though it’s lovely to see my friends and family again, I find it really difficult to explain what I do during the days and what it’s like to be at SCA.

Even referring to SCA as SCA means that I’ve lost 86% of the listeners who no longer have a clue of what I’m talking about. I need to slow down and carefully translate every practice and term into ‘outsider language’ to even stand a chance to make them understand, which is quite tricky since most of them still think copywriting is some kind of specialisation in intellectual property law.

As I slowly and thoroughly started translating the terms and practices, a friend of my commented that it ‘kind of sounds like a cult’. So I decided to spend my Saturday night to investigate this further. Could SCA really be a cult in disguise?

1. Charismatic leader

Typical for every cult. An authoritarian figure that is revered as a god and is in charge of the group. Every decision revolves around this character.

Well, Marc often says that the ultimate goal is to make him and the school famous. He writes narratives that the year should follow, refers to himself as a ‘ringleader’ and sometimes intentionally creates drama. He knows how to work an audience, and loves hyperboles and metaphors. Check.

2. Distinctive language

Every cult has their very own jargon. This is used to make sure that the group is tightly knitted together. It’s also a source of elitism that also exists in every cult and makes newcomers feel left out. The jargon also draws members deeper into the mindset of the cult – making conversation with people outside of the cult tedious, which keeps members isolated from outside influences.

What’s a scab? Townhall? Dunbar? Blurred lines?

3. Elitism

As briefly touched upon earlier, every cult nurtures elitism. The members are made to feel special – they’re told they’re going to change the world and make history. This gives them a strong sense of purpose that keeps them working hard and making sacrifices.

One of the clearest memories I have from the first day is Marc telling us that he believes that one of his students will win a Nobel prize one day. That’s pretty much as elitist as it gets. We’ve been told that the best teams with the highest portfolio scores will have more time with Ian.

4. Emotional extremes

Cult tactics includes creating emotional highs, like being praised by the leader in public, or punish any unwanted behaviour.

Like… doing a dance if you’re late for Townhall? Or having both a good laugh and a cry within a couple of hours during D&AD?

5. Justifying the means

Because the members are convinced that they are saving the earth, rescuing humankind or simply ‘doing the Work’, they are lead to believe that lying, cheating and deceiving outsiders for money is justified.

No, can’t recognise this. Apart from people sharing the scholarship brief, but that seems fairly innocent without any lying or cheating. And winning a scholarship is an expense for the school.


SCA scores a solid 4 out of 5 on this cult list (there’re probably many more criteria’s that can be found, but hey let a woman live).

My suggestion is to make sure to keep in touch with people outside of SCA as much as possible, who can set your mind straight when you’re panicking over a campaign for toothpicks that honestly hardly anyone will ever care about – even if they’re fair-trade, can be turned into holograms and purchased by Bitcoins.

If we see any signs of Marc, or anyone else of the faculty or in-house mentors, trying to convince us to lie and deceive outsiders to join and pay the £15k fee we should probably run.

Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY