D&AD’s new Foot in the Door series asks creatives to share their unique route into building a creative career. We kick off with Yolanta Boti, a mid-weight Creative Copywriter who pivoted from music to advertising, starting her advertising career as part of the first experimental Ogilvy Pipe internship. Boti is now six years into her role at the company, where she co-founded Ogilvy Roots, a diversity and inclusion network supporting people of colour in the creative industry. Here, the 30-year-old creative tells us how she made that career pivot, sharing her tips on bringing your creative background to the advertising table.
I got into the Pipe Internship in 2016. During that summer I was looking for a new opportunity. I had a friend who had gone through the Prince's Trust and had the opportunity to meet with loads of brands. They had a week-long app design course which I joined, and the week after we had a recruitment day where you had hotels, corporate and media brands attend. Ogilvy and AOL were there and I ended up getting those two internships. I started a three month internship at AOL for the production side as a Production Assistant Intern, producing some content for The Huffington Post. It was interesting being on the producing side because I was helping with execution, but I felt like I was looking for the beginning part of the process. And when I started my internship at Ogilvy that was the inception of my creative ideas, and it felt like it could be a really cool place to lend myself. I didn't even know how advertising worked; I just thought brands had an internal team that worked specifically for them, so it blew my mind to know that this was a possibility. I've been here six years since, so the interest definitely stuck.
Being a singer-songwriter, writing had been a part of who I was for pretty much most of my life. Using that background was really helpful for going into copywriting as it taught me the foundations. I studied the writers that I loved in detail, finding out about rhymes and prose. It taught me I had a creative sense, and these are things that are missing in some type of advertisements. Maybe you're someone who's into hip-hop, you are then able to bring a flair into work that other people would not be able to. Also, being into different kinds of music helps with choosing songs for your adverts, and having a wider pool of references available to you. I definitely think that foundation gave me small skills that helped in so many ways.
As a creative I have a roster of work that I've done for brands like Post Office, Sainsbury's and Sipsmith. I co-founded Ogilvy Roots in 2017 with a group of my friends as a way to champion greater ethnic and cultural diversity in the industry. That's been a passion of mine alongside my creative career; it can be found in multiple WPP agencies so we're a wider network now, and we run both social and cultural events. I have a bigger mission of changing the industry and making it a safe space for people of colour when they come into our building. It can be quite a lonely experience to look into something and feel like you're not represented, or maybe if you're more senior, you're the only one who's in that position. We need to create a community of people that are able to reach out, help and support each other but also celebrate cultural events and do fun things.
Don't wait! I think sometimes we wait for permission before we can do stuff. If you are a writer and you'd love to write, write! If you are someone who wants to direct art, start directing shoots with your friends. Connect with people on LinkedIn, slide into the DMs (even mine if you like as well). We're in the age of social media, there are so many ways of sharing your creativity that don't lend to you asking for permission.
Michael Akuagwu is an incredible graphic designer and multimedia artist, he's also part of Rule of Thirds podcast. Ibiye Camp is an architect and multidisciplinary artist who I assisted over my sabbatical. Her exhibition for Deptford X launched recently and I'm so proud to have helped on this project. She really believed in me and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Lastly Lauren-Louis is a recent architecture graduate and artist who also assisted Ibiye Camp. She launched her first exhibition a few weeks ago and I was so inspired by her work.