Marcus Johnson

UBU Communications

I've always written. I'm drawn to the mysteries of language and have spent a large part of my life pursuing the right words. As a kid, I excelled at English and hit an early peak as spelling champion in primary school. My other passion is art and as a young artist, text-based works were my natural inclination. I'm a voracious reader and have what is referred to as a 'gimlet eye' when it comes to typos.

Copywriting has been my primary craft, although I'm an ideas person first and foremost and have a very strong visual / aesthetic sensibility.

I began my career as a copywriter with a big, successful agency in St. Kilda Road where I was able to hone my skills with some incredible people and work on some of the world's best brands. Following a stint of thirteen years there, I have freelanced extensively and have run my own agency business as Creative Director. Well, that and most other roles. I refer to my job title as CEO and Janitor.

Recently, I ran an art gallery which was a ridiculous amount of fun. I’ve been married, unmarried, have two children of my own and my partner has three as well, so that’s a typically modern family setup.

As the son of a mechanical engineer, I have a fondness for the automotive world, which has given me some strong insights for working on car brands such as Mercedes-Benz. I have played golf since I was twelve and still maintain a single-figure handicap. I’m a foodie and have been known to drop a long and amusing review on Facebook pages of restaurants at the end of an evening. I’m six feet tall in the old measure. I wear glasses, not from too much screen time but as a result of rebounding a golf ball off a fence into my eye at full speed as a teenager. I’m good with my hands and can build and repair things. I’m musically inclined and can play a few instruments and sing, but I lean towards writing lyrics. I particularly like magpies and our home often plays host to their silly chortling morning warbles. Chortling. Warbles. These are expressive and engaging words. Did I mention that I like words?

my core skills


concept development

creative direction

brand development


Q & A

Whats the best thing to happen to you in your career to date?

Hard to choose a 'best', but here's three good ones:

Asked to write an ad for Crown Melbourne featuring Silks restaurant. Treated to the most lavish banquet with attendant waiters, incredible food and service and interviews with the manager and head chef. Ended up featuring a lettuce leaf as the point of focus. to drive the story of the search for perfection.

Two consecutive campaigns for Four'n Twenty pies that ran for something like seven and five years without change. Each year, they would research them and the finding kept coming back: "Keep running them. The punters love them'".

Winning the Mercedes-Benz Star Award two years in a row for a dealership client. The award was judged across all MB dealers worldwide.

What does a typical work week look like for you?:

There is no typical work week. Anything and anything can come over the phone, email or across the ether. A lot of the time is admin and not enough is creative.

Describe your working environment in a few sentences..

I have a large home office with a couple of workstations, couch, TV, audio gear, nice outlook. It's not a man cave, despite how it looks.

What sets you apart from other freelancers in your industry?

Antennae. I learned early in the game to listen for the gold. If you pay attention, there will be some quip or throwaway statement that can be the underpinning notion for a persuasive sentence, drive a content piece or be the start of an entire campaign.

What are the tools of your trade?

At the most minimal, pen, paper and brain. A mobile phone is a pretty amazing tool as well. But I still like the big screen desktop for writing.

Do you collaborate with others? If yes, how does that works?

Yes, either as suppliers to my business or as as coworkers on projects. Depending on the personality type, it can be a close one-to-one working relationship or a hyper-efficient digital dialogue. I enjoy working within a team dynamic and have respect and admiration for anyone that can write a really good brief.

Whats been the biggest freelancing lesson to date?

At first, I had no idea what to charge or what value to place on my skills. Now, I know.

examples of my work

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