Copywriters on the rack #25: Vikki Ross
Hello and welcome to Copywriters on the Rack. Have you done something different with your hair? Anyway, lie down, get uncomfortable and here we go…
Who are you and what do you do to pay the bills?
I’m Vikki. I write copy. And I tell brands and agencies how to talk. They ask me to – I don’t just rock up uninvited and shout through their window.
What was your career path to get to where you are now?
Long path short: with no qualifications or connections, and no idea ad schools and agency internships were a thing, I went to work. I was a receptionist, an office assistant and a PA. Lucky for me, I worked at places where people wrote copy so I kept asking if I could write copy too and one day, one creative director let me.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to go behind the scenes of some the biggest brands in the world.
What’s the worst?
Writing the perfect line right after I’ve sent the client what I thought was the perfect line.
How do you fill the gaps when you’re not doing the day job?
Books and magazines. TV and films. Family and friends. Eating and drinking. Sleeping. A tiny bit of exercise.
Now we’ve got the formalities out of the way, let’s go rogue:
You’re locked in a cell with 2-foot thick stone walls and no windows. Outside the solid steel door, two fully tooled-up guards keep watch in shifts, 24 hours a day. Armed with only a saucepan of water, three satsumas and a copy of Good Housekeeping, what’s your escape plan?
Do I have to escape? Sounds like a relaxing day reading, hydrating and upping my vitamin C. I’ll have a sleep too – that cell’s probably pretty peaceful.
Peaceful? There’s a disease-riddled rat nibbling at your toes. And there’s a really nasty smell coming up through iron grating in the cold, damp stone floor.
So, what’s your escape plan??????
*Rubs hands together* – you know, like someone concocting a plan.
Okay, I’m going to tear pages out of Good Housekeeping and fold them into paper planes. Then I’m going to put them on the floor right by the door with the saucepan and satsumas. When a guard comes to check in on me, bring me food, let me out (they will, won’t they?), I’ll be ready. Standing strong. Warrior pose.
When he (or she or they) unlocks the door and peers his head round – BAM! I’ll chuck a satsuma at his nose. He’ll crouch down to protect himself, making room above him for me to – BAM! Chuck another satsuma at the guard running in behind to help. Now he (or she or they) is crouching down to protect himself too.
Now’s my big chance. I push the first guard into the second. They both fall backwards. I grab the satsumas, saucepan and paper planes. And I run.
Obviously more guards get in my way. I chuck the satsumas at the first three – BAM! BAM! BAM! I pour water from the saucepan on the floor ahead of me so the guards coming towards me slip and slide – WHOOOOOOOOSH! And I launch the paper planes at all the others. One after the other after the other after the other. The edges slice their cheeks with paper cuts – OUCH!
And I keep running.
Nice. Now write me a poem about a hole in a vest
A hole in a vest
Ain’t the best
It’ll let the cold in
And a bit of skin
Who would win in a fight, George the Poet or Jones the Steam?
George the Poet. Words have power.
Write me three straplines for:
1) Cillit Bang’s new range of after dinner mints
Bang! And the bad breath’s gone
2) Pet tattoos
As in tattoos for pets?
Boost your pet’s street cred
Or tattoos of a pet on a person?
Wear your pet on your sleeve
3) Edible Bitcoin
The currency you can crunch
(Does that work? WTF is bitcoin?)
What was your nickname at school?
I don’t remember having one. I do remember being a Junior Copywriter at The Body Shop and asking colleagues to call me Lady Victoria. They didn’t. Blimey, what an idiot. Me, not them.
Draw me a picture of an ostrich having its legs waxed (yes I know you’re a writer, but do it anyway).
(At this point, as much as I admired her chutzpah, I had to show m’lady the red hot poker.)
Draw me a picture of an ostrich having its legs waxed. Pretty please.
Here’s an ostrich crying in pain. It’s the best I can do.
See, that wasn’t so painful was it (not you Ostrich).
Copywriting is like ironing kippers, discuss.
Words can be slippery. We must handle them with care.
Snog, marry, boil in salad cream: Shrek / Princess Fiona / Donkey
Snog Princess Fiona (you’ve seen Shrek’s huge mouth and Donkey’s giant teeth, right? Ew.)
Marry Shrek (think of the cuddles)
Boil Donkey in salad cream (I think he’d enjoy the experience)
What is love?
Love is a client approving the first round of copy you send them.
Pick a random pic from your camera roll and tell us about it.
I saw this photo as I walked home from a solo #CopySafari last year. What a way to end an afternoon in search of words in the wild.
Write me a very short story featuring: Bruce Willis in a ballgown, a stolen KitKat and Susan Boyle smelling of vinegar.
Bruce Willis is in his dressing room. He’s having a break (he’s starring in Michael Bay’s hotly anticipated new all-action romp). He reaches for his KitKat – but it’s not where he left it. Next to the kettle ready to eat with a cup of tea. It’s been stolen!
He rushes round to Susan Boyle’s dressing room (in a very strange set of consequences, they’re playing each other’s love interest).
“Susan!” he yells. “Someone’s stolen my Ki-”. He stops himself. Breathes in. “Have you been putting vinegar on your hair again? You stink.” Before Susan has a chance to answer, Bruce continues, “Never mind. Someone’s stolen my KitKat!”
“Calm down” Susan says. “It must be around here somewhere.”
“But I can’t go looking for it myself” Bruce says. “The crew want me back on set in ten minutes. If they see me before then, they’ll think I’m ready to start early.”
“Here,” Susan says. “Put my ballgown on. They’ll think it’s me wandering around, and I’m not needed on set until later.’
“Yippee ki-yay, Susan. You’re the best! Britain’s got talent, huh?” says Bruce as he throws on her frock and dashes out of her dressing room in search of his stolen KitKat.
Make my skin crawl.
Your client’s sending your copy to Legal.
Make my heart melt.
Your client’s approved your copy.
Write me dictionary definition entries for ‘Wilcock’s Lexicofantabulous Compendium of Oddities and Soddities’:
An extra section of fatty flesh that sits under a paunch
A grey cheese with holes for breadsticks
3) Warty Wednesday
A day of the week when warts appear between fingers and toes (they disappear at midnight each week)
Ah, I love Wednesdays. If you were alone on a desert island for a month, what 6 items would you take with you? (they have to fit in a Morrison’s bag for life and yes, you can keep the bag).
1. Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant – in a tin, never the stick. I can’t leave home without it.
2. Factor 50 sun cream. It’ll be hot, right?
3. Sunglasses. It’ll be sunny, right?
4. A flamingo-shaped lilo thing. Deflated so it fits in the bag – I’ll blow it up when I get there.
5. A bottle of ready-made pina colada.
6. Villa America by Liza Klaussmann. I’ve read it but I’d like to read it again as if I’m away with the Fitzgeralds and Hemingways.
Make up your own question and tell me whatever you want to get off your chest.
Kate Moss once asked, “Why can’t I have fun all the time?” I want to know why I can’t read books all the time. I like to read a book in one go, but there’s always other stuff that needs doing. Imagine how many books we could read if we read one a day.
Give me three reasons why I should let you go.
1) I’m tired
2) I’m hungry
3) I want to watch TV
And before I remove the shackles, tell us where we can find you online.
Sorry (not sorry) about the Ostrich. Now, be off with ya!
More dungeon doings here: Copywriters on the rack #24: Ed Callow