I basically moved to Berlin straight after finishing my degree in the UK. I’d spent my year abroad in Munich and it was during that time that I discovered Berlin. And kept asking myself why I hadn’t applied to go there from the start! Of course, the main reasons for relocating to the German capital were the thriving arts, music and alternative scene – while the (then) cheap rents and low cost of living were definitely an added bonus.
My first real big break was joining the extremely talented agency Scholz & Friends. I met one of their ADs at a wedding who mentioned they had just landed a huge multinational client and desperately needed a native English copywriter. Did I know of anyone?Indeed I did! I phoned first thing the following Monday. And stayed there for four years, winning a Cannes Lion along the way,before going freelance. Since then I’ve worked for some 40 clients – agencies and directly for companies – throughout Germany. They all seem to appreciate the fact that they can brief me in German and rest assured that they’ll get English copy tailored to their international markets. Berlin attracts an ever-increasing number of young English-speaking people who are quickly snapped up by the equally expanding number of start-ups. But the businesses soon find that these “extended tourists” lack the experience, skills and linguistic abilities necessary for a creative copywriter. They are, however, cheap…
Fortunately, I’ve been able to work with clients who appreciate you get what you pay for and can be proud of working for such brands as Bugatti, Bentley, BMW, Porsche, Nike, Credit Suisse and Munich Airport. This has resulted in being part of driving events in Finland, accompanying the launch of a car in Croatia and suddenly seeing my work while changing planes in a jet-lagged state in various European cities. Yet the copy I’m most proud of is the one I didn’t do: As a non-smoker, I turned down the offer of scripting a commercial for one of the leading tobacco companies. Shooting in the Caribbean, all expenses paid! At first, I cursed myself for sticking to my stupid principles, but now when I think back, it’s one of my best pieces of work. Closely followed by the easyJet slogan – look out for it the next time you fly.
One of the good things about being a copywriter in Berlin is that most of my clients are based outside the capital. The city may be full of small businesses and service industries, but has few major internationals. This means I get to travel around the country a bit, even if it’s only for the initial getting to know one another before getting down to the real (remote) work. Thankfully I do work for some Berlin agencies which allows me to be part of the creative team on site and not just stare at my screen all day in my Kreuzberg office.
I don’t know whether I’ll remain in Berlin for ever, but it’s the only German city that I’d care to live in. I could imagine moving to another European capital, though. Or setting up my laptop under a palm tree on that Caribbean beach one day.