In conversation with

Andrew Boulton

Copywriter & Senior Lecturer at Lincoln University

Andrew Boulton



“My daughter, Penelope, is 5 and is powered entirely by chocolate croissants and imagination.”

Clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We’re talking about the imagination (and not the croissants) of copywriter Andrew Boulton. With over ten years in the game, he describes his job as ‘thinking silly thoughts and playing with words.’

You’ll also find him teaching a creative writing course at The University of Lincoln or writing books to ‘inspire a bright new generation of copywriters’. Copy Queen Vikki Ross described his first book  Copywriting Is, as a ‘love letter to copywriting,’ which says it all. His second book Adele Writes An Ad is an ode to his daughter, giving her the know-how about a career where ‘grown-ups live inside their own minds’.

We spoke to Andrew about proud moments and pet peeves. 


Question and Answer

Your book, ‘Copywriting Is’ is described by Vikki Ross, as a ‘love letter to copywriting.’ When and where did your love for copywriting begin?

Day one. Minute one, actually. I think it’s because I went into it not quite believing there was a job where thinking silly thoughts, and playing with words, actually existed. I had been dangerously close to pursuing some sort of awful grown-up career – lord knows what I could have done – and I think I got a sense almost straight away that copywriting had rescued me from something drab.

You’ve been in the copywriting game for over 10 years. Is there a piece of copy you’re really proud of?

Loads. I think the reason why I’ve stayed in this world so long – and stayed happy in it for so long – is that I get an enormous amount of satisfaction from cracking a brief. Even when the copy isn’t beautiful or exciting, which is often the case, there is joy in finding the answer to brief. The stuff I’m most proud of might well seem quite ordinary, or uninspiring, to you, but the satisfaction is about choosing the exact right words for the exact right purpose. I should also probably add that the greatest feeling of satisfaction, the only pure instance of triumph, is when you lift your pencil from the page and know for sure that you’ve just written the perfect thing. Everything else that happens after doesn’t compare.

Do you have any pet peeves as a copywriter?

Only the occasional, unwillingness to acknowledge the enormous amount of talent working in the industry today. Yes, creative advertising or marketing, is undoubtedly a very different world from what it used to be. And yes, you may have had a lovelier time in a different era than you are having today. But to translate that into a grumble about today’s writers not knowing their craft, or not measuring up to your idea of the job, is poppycock. There is not a day that goes by where I couldn’t show you a dazzling example of new copywriting.

What inspired you to write ‘Adele Writes an Ad’ and when and why did you choose to get into teaching?

My daughter, Penelope, is 5 and is powered entirely by chocolate croissants and imagination. I wanted her to know about what I do – and to see that there is, and always will be, a space in the grown up world for people who live inside their own minds. It would be preposterously wankerish to say that I hoped to inspire a bright new generation of copywriters – but then again I think that’s exactly what I’m sort of saying.

As for teaching, I’d hardly call it a choice, more a fortuitous bumbling. A dear pal of mine, Dave Pettitt, runs a wonderful Creative Advertising course at the University of Lincoln and asked me to come and so some stuff with the students about copy. I loved it and I stayed. But I don’t consider myself to be a teacher. I’m a copywriter who likes the sound of his own voice, that’s all.

“My daughter, Penelope, is 5 and is powered entirely by chocolate croissants and imagination. I wanted her to know about what I do – and to see that there is, and always will be, a space in the grown up world for people who live inside their own minds.”

What brands do you like for their copy?

Any that take words seriously. Any that realise the value of writing and wouldn’t dream of communicating anything without getting their best writers in the room first. I love the windows of a Paperchase shop. I love the Paddy Power voice on Twitter. I love brands who have a voice that could only be theirs, no matter how desperately less imaginative businesses try to copy them. I read in a superb book called Strong Language by Chris West that language, or copy, is the smartest, fastest and cheapest marketing tool there is. The brands I admire, and the brands I gravitate to, are the ones who have understood that. And they’re always easy to spot.

If there’s one lesson you could teach to the next generation of copywriters, what would it be and why?

I’d simply want them to know that the life exists. I teach on a Creative Writing course at Lincoln, as well as the ad course, and it is staggering to see how few of these bright and talented young writers have never heard of copywriting. We do a poor job, collectively at least, of shining a torch back down the tunnel and that means the industry is losing so much talent. The ‘bumbling into it’ model has worked ok so far, but developing a clearer – and earlier – path into it can only be a good thing.

Complete the sentence: copywriting is....

A best-selling book by an idiot would dearly love you to buy it. Ideally twice.

Andrew's Storylist


  1. Stein On Writing by Sol Stein
  2. The Sweet Science by A.J. Liebling
  3. Read Me by Gyles Lingwood
  4. Junior by Thomas Kemeny


  1. Freelancer Magazine


  1. Dave Harland
  2. The Rose Hand Files by Gem Higgins Rose


  1. All Good Copy
  2. Call To Action

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