Copywriter of the week : Jesper Elm Larsen

Coincidence and diligence

No clue

Jesper Profile

When you love to write, there are many strange directions that you can go career-wise. One of the funniest and most perverse solutions is the copywriting profession. In fact, it was neither a profession nor an education when I started out. It was probably more an exotic sidetrack for poetic journalists and failed MA’s. But you could also come in directly from the street and get an apprenticeship if you wrote something that convinced the office people. 

Odense FlyerOf course it didn’t stand in your way if you were a cand. mag. in Danish and Film Studies and had worked with both newspaper, television and radio journalism, but it was not decisive – nor for my part. I had to abandon my academic writing style, open my eyes and ears and pick up tips & tricks on the go. And it all happened in a fast pace. Customers and campaigns were queuing up at the popular advertising agencies, which rapidly took in new clients of any kind and observation. Apparently no one took it too serious who they worked for, and after three years at Odense’s then most creative agency, Andersen & Blæsbjerg Advertising Agency, I was told to write for a couple of customers with whom I shared absolutely no beliefs and visions. Shortly afterwards I started out as the (by then) only freelance copywriter in the city – even organized as a VAT-registered company. Here I could not only choose my own direction and, for example, seek collaboration with green companies, but to my great surprise also earn twice as much after one year of concentrated startup work. Perfect timing – it was in the 1990s.

Maersk, Microsoft, Heineken … and Jabii

It undoubtedly gives you an extra kick working for companies that trivially expressed “make a difference” (in the right way). I have both had the pleasure of getting my ego strengthened and my halo plastered as a result of my assignments as freelance copywriter. The most prestigious projects must be writing concept and manuscript for the corporate film for A.P. Moeller-Maersk and a number of tasks for potent brands such as Microsoft, Heineken, IMAX and Team Denmark. It creates awareness, sharpens the professional profile and pleases your creditors. However, it is not necessarily the most exciting and rewarding tasks (in a holistic perspective). I especially love the pioneering spirit and the energy of the small startups, such as Jabii, who has developed a mix between physical boxing and computer games to get the kids out of the couch. And I am proud to work with botved.dk on a mission to ensure accessibility for everyone and help disabled people and people with reduced mobility to an easier life. The particular privilege of being a freelance copywriter is that there is room for everything – and it is up to you what you want to do.

 

Digitization and specialization – eg. as an instructional designer

Onestopalu.dk

Today, all the agencies I have been employed in have gone down, while a much broader and more varied landscape of communication businesses has opened up for far more associated freelancers. New media have also created several opportunities for conceptual and creative expression. The strong growth in e-learning has among other things given me the opportunity to link my writing skills with my previous educational experiences (as temporary teacher in elementary school, pedagogy from St. Knuds Gymnasium, high school teacher, teacher at interdisciplinary at University of Southern Denmark and management training). Like large websites built from scratch, e-learning allows you to dive extra far into a substance, which for me is a healthy counterweight to the often very volatile advertising campaigns. For example, it has given me insight into all aspects of Team Denmark’s development program for young talents (courses in nutrition, sports psychology, physical training and sports medicine) and knowledge of the safety conditions in the maritime sector. As an instructional designer, I have also gained greater and greater benefit from my English language skills. When I write storyboards for eg Maersk, all communication and writing is in English, and this language competence has gradually been expanded and sharpened with transcreation tasks for a number of international brands: Apple, Mastercard etc. Where the boundaries of Danish are tightened up, the whole world lies open for communication in English. In my case not least thanks to visionary collaborators such as Copywriter Collective.

The Danish dream scenario

Botved.dk

In addition to the freelancer leap, there is an equally important game changer that has transformed my life into a dream scenario. The relocation from Denmark’s largest sleeping town (Odense) to one of Europe’s most hip and high-cultural capitals has certainly given the energy, quality of life and the possibilities of development a boost. From the heart of the lovely variegated Vesterbro in Copenhagen, I can reach everything from customers, professional courses, international seminars, world-class restaurant, totally dedicated beer and wine bars, movie premieres, opera as well as jazz, folk and rock concerts within 5-20 minutes by bike – or quickly catch a train / plane / ship to the rest of the world. Today I have difficulty understanding that I have been able to live without this mental lift for so many years. All the best about Denmark is gathered in this small, cozy capital, which unites a vibrant cultural heritage with a constant infusion of international impulses. If after 20 years in Copenhagen I would like to move again, it can only be outside Denmark’s borders. Ideally for a large metropolis with an equally rewarding social, mercantile and cultural scene, which I have become so accustomed to here up in the High North.