Humber College Copywriting course offered

Beginning this summer, aspiring David Ogilvys, Ed McCabes and Terry O'Malleys will be able to pick up the fundamentals of the copywriting profession by attending a new certificate program.The 48-week, full-time course, offered at Toronto's Humber College of Applied Arts and...

Beginning this summer, aspiring David Ogilvys, Ed McCabes and Terry O’Malleys will be able to pick up the fundamentals of the copywriting profession by attending a new certificate program.

The 48-week, full-time course, offered at Toronto’s Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, North Campus, is called Media Copywriting and will cover all aspects of the craft of penning ads, from strategy development and creative writing to computer and presentation skills.

Media Copywriting will be taught by Joanne Lehman, a 30-year copywriting veteran whose work experience includes stints as creative director at MacLaren Advertising and Foster Advertising.

Not only will Lehman be standing in front of the class when school begins Aug. 30, she also spent the last 18 months behind the scenes developing the course concept, selling it to school authorities and preparing classroom lessons.

Lehman, who is a graduate of the Ryerson journalism program, says the new copywriting course will be the first of its kind in Canada.

While various schools offer courses on different aspects of advertising (and copywriter Pam Freir offers a private correspondence course in copywriting from her home in Vancouver), no school teaches a program focussing specifically on copywriting.

Such a course is sorely lacking, according to Lehman, who says her experience with aspiring copywriters over the years convinced her of the need for a hands-on program that would prepare otherwise capable wordsmiths for a career in advertising.

‘As a creative director, I used to interview university students looking for jobs,’ Lehman says. ‘While they were literate, they didn’t know anything about the industry, and they didn’t have product-sell skills.’

Graduates of Media Copywriting would presumably fare better in job interviews, having acquired a general understanding of the advertising and marketing businesses including an awareness of the different types of advertising agencies.

As part of the course, Lehman hopes to offer a weekly seminar series featuring working copywriters from all walks of the profession.

Additionally, during the final eight weeks of the program, students will acquire hands-on, field-placement experience with one of a host of agencies that have agreed to participate.

Among the agencies taking part are Ambrose Carr Linton Kelly, Vickers & Benson Advertising, Young & Rubicam, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and Harrod & Mirlin.

The students will not collect pay cheques during their field placement, but the agencies have promised to give them real work to do so their time is well spent, Lehman says.

What kind of bacon does a beginning copywriter bring home in today’s job market?

Lehman says large agencies pay an average of $29,900, although smaller agencies and other firms employing copywriters frequently pay much less.

Top-flight copywriters, on the other hand, can rake in $250,000 plus, particularly if they double as agency creative directors.

Tuition in the first year of the program will be slightly under $1,000.

To be eligible, applicants will ideally have a university or college degree. However, Lehman says non-graduates will be considered based on a combination of their education and relevant life experiences.

Media Copywriting has the support of leading industry organizations, including the Association of Canadian Advertising and the Canadian Advertising Foundation.

As well, it is also supported by leading advertising professionals, a number of whom have joined an advisory board of directors.

They include: Doug Linton, vice-chairman, director of creative services, aclk; Stewart Hood, senior vice-president, creative director, v&b; and John Burghardt, who recently resigned as president and creative director at Burghardt Wolowich Krunkhorn Kibble.