Alice Burton is a creative (copywriter) at RKCR/Y&R where she has produced campaigns for brands such as the BBC, Holland & Barrett, and Breast Cancer Now. Before RKCR/Y&R Alice worked at Fallon on brands such as Skoda, Cadbury, Cushelle, and giffgaff.
DESCRIBE THE PATH TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW.
I studied Graphic Design at The University of Southampton, specialising in advertising design, after which I went on to study a postgraduate in creative advertising at West Herts College, more commonly known as ‘Watford Ad School’.
"I did a number of placements at Team Saatchi, JWT, RKCR/Y&R, and Lucky Generals, before landing a job at Fallon."
I did a number of placements at Team Saatchi, JWT, RKCR/Y&R, and Lucky Generals, before landing a job at Fallon. After a year at Fallon, creating work for Skoda, George ASDA, Cushelle, and Cadbury I left to rejoin Rainey Kelly as a single creative. And a year later here we are!
HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR JOB AT RKCR/Y&R?
During my time on placement I spent 6 months at Rainey Kelly, after which I kept in touch with a senior creative team I had worked very closely with during that time. When I decided to leave Fallon that team quickly got my work in front of the ECD at the time, Mick Mahoney, who then asked me in for an interview and offered me a job. Just goes to show it’s good to keep in touch with agencies, even after you leave.
COULD YOU TALK US THROUGH YOUR TYPICAL DAY?
If I’m not mega busy, I do as most creative do and stroll in about 9.30… but usually I’m in at 8am to get a head start on things before the office gets busy. Then the day can really vary depending on what I’m working on.
"I might be writing copy for a press of TV ad… Or locked away in a ‘panic room’ brainstorming a big 360 campaign…"
I might be writing copy for a press of TV ad. Or locked away in a ‘panic room’ brainstorming a big 360 campaign. Or reviewing work with my creative director or entire the team of creatives, planners, and account people. A few hours or a day out of the office. Or if I’m in production on a project I might be in Soho at a V/O record, edit, grade, or sound mix.
I work part of the time as a solo creative and part of the time with another (very talented) writer at Rainey Kelly, Psembi Kinstan. So at some point most days I’m lounging on a sofa with him, often accidentally wearing matching outfits, brainstorming new ideas or discussing projects we’re working on together.
WHATS THE BEST & WORST PART OF YOUR JOB?
To be honest there are so many ‘best parts’ of my job.
"It’s all just bloody fantastic really… but if I had to say one general thing it would certainly be getting to see my ideas get made."
Going on a shoot and seeing all the cameras and equipment and people all there to bring the script you wrote to life is so amazing.
I remember writing a script, about a magic tree that grows Ferrero Roche, when I was on placement at Rainey Kelly and after I left it went into production. A friend of mine from the agency sent me photos from the magic tree shoot in South Africa and I was blown away that my thought of ‘Hmm, maybe it’s like a beautiful huge tree that grows Ferrero?’ was now a real thing that a huge team of people were working to bring to life. There’s nothing better than that. Apart from obviously actually being there on the shoot that is…
The worst part… for me personally is sometimes the internal pressure of coming up with a great idea… because you never know when that idea might come. A great headline can come in 5 minutes or takes days of writing hundreds of lines.
"If you need to come up with a huge award-winning 360 campaign the pressure is even worse."
If you need to come up with a huge award-winning 360 campaign the pressure is even worse. Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on ‘The Creative Genius’ helped me deal with this worry (worth a watch).
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A CREATIVE COPYWRITER?
Do it! If you’ve got the energy and drive. It’s tiring and will take over your life occasionally. But it’s fantastic. Go into it with a great attitude and the goal of making it, and you will. As Paul Arden said ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.’
DO YOU HAVE ANY MOTTOS OR RULES THAT YOU LIVE BY?
See above. I’ve never been the best. But a lot of people who were better than me at different points in my life seem to have fallen by the wayside. So I must be doing something right. Also, ‘Happiness is a choice’, you’re the only one that can make you do the things you want.
"So stop making excuses for why you’re not doing what you want and just go out there and make it happen god dammit!"
So stop making excuses for why you’re not doing what you want and just go out there and make it happen god dammit! You won’t regret it. (Unless what you want is to bring the BNP back into British politics… you might regret that).
WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
Sleep. Drink. Dance. Drink. Every January I do a pantomime in South West London. OOH NO YOU DON’T! Yes I really do.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A DESK WITH ANYONE FROM THE PAST, PRESENT OR FUTURE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Is this where I’m supposed to say someone inspiring in the industry?
"I can’t just say James Marsden because it’s good to have something nice to look at when you’re thinking?"
I can’t just say James Marsden because it’s good to have something nice to look at when you’re thinking? Ok fine. In all honesty it would probably (and lamely) be Psembi… the guy I work with at Rainey Kelly.
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