Raych Campbell started a two week placement with STV Creative just four days after her MSc degree show in 2013 - and she hasn't looked back since.
Now working within STV's London team, Raych gives us the skinny on her career so far and passes on some hints and tips for this year's crop of graduates.
5 May 2017
Could you introduce yourself and give us an overview of what your role on STV entails?
I started a two week placement at STV Creative about four days after my MSc degree show in 2013. Multiple live TV briefs were immediately thrown at me and I was completely swept up in the pace of TV - how quickly briefs came in, ideas were pitched, shoots were shot, and ads were suddenly on actual screens in houses across the UK. I extended my placement again and again, until after six months I was offered a permanent role as a Junior Creative. The opportunity to have my ideas turned into real life campaigns, and even to direct on shoots was challenging and exciting. My confidence and skill set grew as quickly as my portfolio and client list. I spent two years working on campaigns for clients such as Arnold Clark, Visit Scotland, Digby Brown and Ford.
In 2015 I took the decision to move to London to work as a Creative in the London Team. This role has been drastically different, working alone, without a wider Creative team, and pitching to London clients, who don't necessarily understand the nuances and quirks of Scotland.
You completed a Masters in Creative Advertising at Edinburgh Napier in 2013. What are you memories of your time at the University?
I was 25 and struggling with my career path. I knew I needed to do something more creative, but wasn't sure what. I happened to pick up George Lois's 'Damn Good Advice' one day as a holiday read, and that was it. I quit my job the next day, Googled Creative Advertising courses, and Edinburgh Napier's MSc was the first link I clicked on. It summed up everything I was looking for, and I applied immediately. My amazing tutors, Brian Williams and Susie Henry listened to my pleas and let me in. From day one it was a fantastic challenge. We were thrown briefs, split into groups, and told to go have ideas. The time flew by and before I knew it we were pinning boards on walls for the degree show, but my memories of the months before that are of nothing but fun and excitement. We were such a close-knit group, always working and snacking through the nights to hit deadlines, and celebrating together after every pitch.
The main benefit for me was just how much my tutors and this course prepared me for the actual real world of advertising. I was just that little bit more ready to tackle the job of a Junior Creative.
How big a part did your degree and experience at Edinburgh Napier play in helping you get to where you are today?
If it wasn't for the course then I wouldn't have met Neil Walker, Simon Ross and Stephen O'Donnell from STV Creative. They came in to give us an Arnold Clark brief during the course, and as soon as they introduced themselves and explained what they did, I knew I wanted in. We pestered Head of Creative, Simon, sending him scamps and ideas for Arnold Clark long after we'd moved on to other briefs. We broached the idea of a placement a few months before the degree show, and during the show we made a straight line for them, plying them with alcohol and enthusiastic chat until they told us to come in on Monday.
The Creative Advertising course not only gave us that way in, but it also ensured that once we were there, we were prepared and ready for the job in hand, resulting in now nearly four years of writing and directing adverts at STV Creative.
You were inducted into the University’s More Than A Degree Show Hall of Fame last year. How did you feel to be one of the first four included?
To be honest, it wasn't something I was expecting. I've always been passionate about what I do, I'm loud and driven to the point of obnoxious, but I haven't ever considered myself to be successful. So once I got past that, I was just really chuffed.
I had to trust myself to make the leap from a comfortable career and life into the MSc course. I guess when I was asked to be included in the Hall of Fame, it made me feel like I made the right choice. It's good to know that you can take a risk and make a huge change and it can pay off. If what you're doing isn't right, or if you've not figured it all out yet then don't worry, it will all come together. Just take a chance and start something new, something you're really passionate about. My first degree was in English Literature, then I sold cars for three years, then I did my MSc, and now I'm here. I feel like I'm one of those rare, smug people who genuinely loves what they do.
Awards, squirrels, creativity and more...
What sort of thing do you look for in young creatives wishing to enter the advertising profession today?
I definitely look for enthusiasm above everything else. I'm still learning every day, whether it be how to cut down my copy, be more imaginative with my art direction, or how to edit. So I don't look for a finished, rounded creative, who knows everything there is to know. I'm much more drawn to passion, someone who gets advertising, understands why it's so great. I also think there has to be a knowledge of where we've come from in creative advertising, watch as many TV ads as you can, look at as many print ads as you can, and read all the books by Lois, Trott, Hegarty, Ogilvy, Arden, the guys who started the real creative advertising - because no matter how advanced we get with our sponsored tweets and native articles and VR brand films, everything always comes back to one, great, simple idea. Without that, you don't got nothing.
What are the current trends in creative advertising that organisations such as STV are embracing?
As everyone knows, technology is moving faster than we can keep up with. One minute everyone is all about the viral stunt videos and the next it's 360 brand films. At STVC we deal with the viewer, and their experience. We want people to engage with the stuff we make, whether that be a one minute programme, a 30 second spot ad, or a interactive digital display unit. We know that people don't want to be sold to, and we've heard all the stats and facts about how much advertising goes completely unnoticed by the general population on a daily basis. So we don't put a focus on advertising as such, we try to make it about the story. We aim to draw people in, make them feel something, get them talking. I think that's a wider shift that's happening across the industry, make stuff that people want to look at and engage with.
If you could give a graduate once piece of advice for when University is complete, what would it be and why?
Don't be scared. Just go for it. I've been doing this for four years and I've probably been in hundreds of pitches, but I still get nervous. Everyone is in the same position as you, everyone is still figuring stuff out, no matter how experienced they are. Act confident even if you don't feel it - as long as your enthusiasm and passion comes through, you're halfway there.
You may be done with uni, but the learning definitely does not stop. You need to be absorbing all the information you can, whilst taking criticism and feedback on your efforts and coming up with new ideas. It's not easy, but it is addictive. Figure out what you like while you're at uni, whether it's print ads and design, social media, TV, or digital, then look for agencies who specialise in that platform. I always enjoyed the physical things in advertising, the shoots and the posters, so I chose an agency that was all about TV, with digital on the side. Don't rush into something because you feel you should, take your time and try different things. If something doesn't work then move on, it's all experience and it all helps you get to where you want to be.