As part of our #YouthMatters feature for Youth Month, we chat to Hamilton Zwane, copywriter at Grey Africa.
Can you tell us what your role as copywriter entails?
A copywriter is responsible for taking a client’s brief and generating concepts and ideas that are creative and grab the attention of the target audience. We write copy for radio, TV, billboards, print, social media and digital, and often work alongside an art director or designer to conceptualise campaigns.
What sparked your interest in getting into copywriting?
I honestly didn’t know about copywriting before my English teacher in Matric mentioned it to me. Funny story, I studied towards a BA in Development Studies & Communication. I used to attend classes with friends who were studying Strategic Communication and, one day, in their creative class the lecturer showed us an ad by Amnesty International, and at that moment I knew that I wanted to end up in the creative industry.
How did you get into the industry?
After graduating, it was difficult to find work in my desired field – after three years of working in life insurance, I was offered an opportunity by Fran Luckin and Jeanette Grove to intern at Grey Africa. I took a leap of faith and went into a year-long internship. Two years later, and I couldn’t be happier to work in an industry booming with creativity, passion, and crazy ideas.
What excites you the most about copywriting?
There are many things, one of them being the opportunity to learn something new every day. With every brief you touch, you immerse yourself in researching and finding out about other industries. Additionally, the fact that creatives have an opportunity to create work that is timeless and iconic – think Cremora (It’s not inside. It’s ooooooon… top), and Sasol (Glug-glug).
Besides copywriting, what other talents do you have?
I’m a Beyonce stan, and I’m very good at doing all of her choreography.
What would you say are the qualities a copywriter needs to have?
A keen interest in current affairs, an imagination that runs wild, a sense of humour, thick skin and, most importantly, an inquisitive mind.
What is the one project you have worked on that you are incredibly proud of?
I got to work on a Hollard Life campaign last year, and it’s still one of my favourite TVC’s to have ever worked on. It’s based on a true cultural insight and simply beautiful.
What are the victories that you’ve had since starting out?
I’ve worked on some beautiful pieces of work – a piece I co-wrote for Scottish Leader Whisky ended up as a finalist for Loeries last year. And it’s only upwards from here.
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
I’m often far too hard on myself. One thing I’d say is: Take it easy on yourself, chap.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I’d like to see myself as a creative director and hopefully an author of my very own book.
As we celebrate Youth Month, do you have any words of encouragement for the youth?
May we never forget that we are the source of inspiration and hope for the future of South Africa. As we celebrate the bravery the youth of 1976 had, we must also continue to initiate justice, unity, and peace. Let’s continue fighting for a better future.