In Conversation with Sherri McIver

I work for myself, from home which is something I’ve longed to do since moving to my little corner of paradise in Central Victoria. The work is varied which keeps life interesting. I’ve always written ads of course, now also socials and blogging for others. Recently I’ve started ghostwriting books. It turns out a lot of people want to record their life stories.

I fell into advertising by way of journalism. It was a very fortunate stumble. I was living beyond my means in Perth when there was a 7.30 am knock on my front door.

A man from the ANZ Bank stood outside in the rain.

‘Can I see your Bankcard’? he enquired.

For some reason I handed it to him. He whipped out some scissors, held the card up in front of my face and cut it in half. I suppose you could say it was a wake-up call.

As I needed to earn some real money a friend suggested advertising might suit. I don’t know what it says about me but it suited me down to the ground. My career began at Ogilvy and Mather in Perth, three years later, I drove my Datsun 240B with its wonky radiator across the Nullarbor to work for Darcy Masius Benton and Bowles in Melbourne. Then DDB Needham, probably the time my career hit the heights. It was the eighties, a brilliant time. Between then and now I’ve taught copywriting, written for television, run my own agency, which was a hell of a ride, and freelanced for ages. I’m very thankful I landed on a career with the potential to continue in many different ways.

What changes have you seen in the Advertising industry since starting out?

What is the biggest change in the industry? This will not make me popular but I’d have to say the rise of the Art Director. When the majority of Creative Directors were writers, the big ideas were the most important thing. And so were words. This changed when the Art Directors took over. Of course, social media has altered things dramatically. It didn’t need to but it has. And open-plan offices. A special kind of hell on earth for creatives.

What would your advice be to someone wanting to break into the Advertising industry as a copywriter?

If I met someone who wanted to break into copywriting, I think my advice would be the same as it ever was. If you’re not already, become interested in lots of things. This will make you an interesting person. Read. You can’t really write if you don’t read. Get your ideas down, something every day, and keep the good ones. Make sure they are different from what’s already out there. Make sure they reflect you and what you’re good at -humour, brevity, crazy, whatever it is – and build a cracking folio. This is the quickest way for a potential employer to work out if you have what it takes. They only need a glimmer of something fresh and original to get excited. And don’t give up. You’ll know how much you want it by how willing you are to keep trying.

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