SCA Spotlight on…Copy Director and Brand & TOV Consultant, Vikki Ross
1. Hi Vikki! Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name’s Vikki and I have one of the best jobs around.
I go behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest brands, and I tell them how to talk. They ask me to – I don’t just rock up unannounced and yell through the window.
2. How did you start out and how did you get to where you are now?
I have always wanted to write.
I didn’t know what copywriting was when I was a kid – and I didn’t know the difference between an ad and an article – so I thought wanting to write for magazines meant I wanted to be a journalist.
At 18, I wrote to Vogue’s editor and asked if I could write for her – like it’s that easy to get such a job! Of course, she didn’t reply. But asking people if I could write for them was how I got to where I am now.
I failed my A-Levels, I didn’t go to university, and I didn’t know ad schools were a thing. I had no qualifications, degree or portfolio. No idea, direction or connections either.
So I went to work.
But I was lucky because I went to work at places where people wrote copy. I worked as an admin assistant at a direct marketing agency where I asked the creative director if I could write the reader offers. I worked as a PA at a beauty brand where I asked the brand director if I could write for their intranet. And then I worked as a marketing assistant at the same brand and I asked the creative director if I could move into the in-house creative agency and be a copywriter.
3. What do you enjoy most about mentoring at SCA?
SCA is the best school I ever went to.
I learn more than I teach. From the star-studded line-up of industry legends and leaders, and everyone in between. They all donate their time to inspiring the next generation of creatives.
I would never in a million years have met people like Alexandra Taylor, Steve Harrison, Dave Trott, MT Rainey, Dave Dye, Rory Sutherland and Sir John Hegarty had I not been a tutor at SCA twice a week for six and a half years.
What a privilege to learn from them all, and loads more people like Laura Jordan-Bambach, Elliot Harris, Scott Morrison and Ann Wixley, and faculty tutors like Deanna Rodger and Pete Cain. My Copy Cabana and Copy Capital speaker line-ups would’ve been half empty without some of the people I’ve mentioned.
What a lot of name drops. They’re the ones we know.
There are the ones to watch too. The students. Sometimes I meet a team, look at their work and wonder what the hell I’m doing there. They teach me as much as I teach them. A day at SCA is like a creative workout – I leave exhausted, but exhilarated. And reminded of how exciting the job can be when we refresh our references and think differently.
As for the core crew: Marc, Ian and Max. Well. Marc is in a different league to most other humans. The school and its students are always on his mind, and forever in his heart. His heart that’s had so much surgery, we’re lucky he’s still alive. Nothing stops that man. Ian – wonderful and kind Ian – inspires every student to craft, craft, craft. He’s in demand all day every day. And marvellous Max keeps everyone very, very well looked after.
4. Recommended Reading for a student preparing for life at the school.
Oh my word, you won’t believe how much gold there is out there.
Devour Dave Dye’s Stuff From the Loft. And listen to every episode of his podcast. Yeah, they’re long but they’re not long enough – there’s so much to learn and love in each one. Listen to All Good Copy with Glenn Fisher, and Sweathead with Mark Pollard too.
Read The Copy Book by D&AD. And How To Write Better Copy by Steve Harrison, Junior by Thomas Kemeny, Persuasive Copywriting by Andy Maslen, Macy’s Gimbels and Me by Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, A Big Life in Advertising by Mary Wells Lawrence, and all of Dave Trott’s books. Follow him on Twitter too.
Sign up for emails from Sonder & Tell, The Writer and Reed Words. And read all about who’s doing what where in the industry in emails from Creative Review, LBB Online, Adweek, Ads of the World, Muse by Clio and Best Ads. Brands and agencies write newsletters too – subscribe to ones at places you want to work. And watch what their competitors do.
I could go on. And on and on and on (like that Ariston ad – look it up). Here’s a link to some more links: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/look-listen-learn-vikki-ross/
5. What skills do you think someone needs to be a ‘creative’?
You can be anything you want to be when you work at it.
Read lots. Read anything. Everything. Write. Write more. And more.
Write stuff for yourself. Stories, poems, blog posts. And write stuff for brands. When you write stuff for brands, copy something they’ve already written so you get a feel for their tone of voice. Then keep writing – extend an ad campaign for them. Or imagine how their ad could look as an email or social media post. Then share it with the brand or agency that created the original work to start a conversation (you can find most people’s contact details easily online). You never know where you or your work might end up.
Considering applying to SCA? You may have seen these three words before: just do it. Time flies when you’re having fun. A year at SCA flies faster than Concorde. And you won’t get this type of education – or access to so many industry leaders and legends – anywhere else.
6. Why do you think SCA students are so successful?
Like attracts like.
The original school was set up by a legend. It created legends. The current school was set up by another legend. Legends donate their time to teaching – to creating more legends. So it’s on everyone for everyone to succeed. There’s a legacy to respect and protect. And there’s the next generation to educate and celebrate. So of course SCA stands out. There’s nowhere else like it.
7. Top tips to succeed in the creative industry.
Go everywhere and do everything.
There seems to be an awards do every week. Conferences, book launches, networking events and talks every month. If you get the chance to go, go. Every opportunity is just that – an opportunity. You never know who you’ll meet or who they’ll introduce you to or who’ll offer you work so like a cheap and loud sales ad CTA would say, don’t miss out.
And be interested and interesting.
You can’t be interesting if you only do the industry stuff. Do the real stuff too. Get out and about. Look up and around. We’re in the business of talking to people and they’re all over the place so tune in: listen to what they say, go where they go and watch what they do. Your phone doesn’t need your attention – the world does.
8. How should students approach life at SCA to really benefit from everything it has to offer?
Just go with it.
It might seem weird at first. Marc might seem weird at first. But there’s a reason for everything, and there’s a method in the madness. This is a learning experience like no other. Embrace it. Trust it. It works. And it’s brilliant. I’d do it – I’d go if I were you.
9. Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Anything Marc’s ever said. I’ve learned more from him than anyone I’ve worked with.
Follow Vikki on Twitter @VikkiRossWrites #copywritersunite