New Zealand-born and bred Sarah Gooding’s career trajectory has been a high-flying example of how far creative instinct and dogged ambition can propel a writer. Gooding parlayed her start as a youthful music blogger into her current position at prestigious advertising and marketing communications agency Clemenger BBDO. As a behind-the-scenes copy editor, Gooding has assumed a role where she doesn’t merely clean up and correct, she also contributes to and enhances campaigns which the influential company takes on.
Gooding managed this extraordinary professional transition with a characteristic mixture of enthusiasm, good cheer and acute skill as a wordsmith.
“I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand,” she said. “I studied communications at university and it was there that I realized I loved writing. I had classes where I wrote copy for advertising, radio and TV, but feature writing immediately became my favorite. My degree involved an internship, and while all my classmates went off to the traditional newspapers, I went to a [now-defunct] magazine called Real Groove, which was New Zealand’s leading arts and culture magazine, focusing heavily on music. This turned out to be a formative experience – I learned more on that internship than I did in my entire degree. I got to stand in for the editor when he had to go overseas and I wrote my first feature there. I ended up writing for the magazine, and its sister publication Groove Guide, for years after that.”
From there, Gooding went on to co-found Einstein Music Journal, a popular music-focused website, where she wrote and edited non-stop and gained invaluable experience that shortly led to international syndication and allowed her to branch out into writing about a wide variety of subjects for numerous outlets including Time Out, REMIX, NO magazine, and the USA-based CMJ magazine and CMJ.com.
“Sarah always did a great job of finding a human element in rather general public stories,” said Wendy Syfret, Editor of i-D Australia and New Zealand. “As an editor, I thought she did a good job of finding evocative, relatable sources. They allowed her work to lead with smaller narratives that didn’t dampen the significance of the issue, but brought it into readers’ lives.”
For Gooding, the best was yet to come. “All of this writing work helped me land a full-time job on staff at New Zealand’s biggest-selling magazine, New Zealand’s Woman’s Weekly, working as a copy editor,” she said. “There, I managed content for the Lifestyle, Health, Family, Kids and Puzzle sections, and did everything from editing profiles and crossword puzzles to ghostwriting a celebrity’s craft column.” This gave Gooding a strong foundation for editing as well as writing, which led to a foot in the door to the advertising world with jobs at the globally networked advertising agencies Clemenger BBDO and eg+ WorldWide.
Clemenger was founded in 1946 by maverick ad man John Clemenger and joined forces with the New York-based BBDO network to become Clemenger BBDO in 1972. It has consistently distinguished itself as the region’s premier supplier of compelling commercial content, offering a distinguished roster of clients invaluable advertising and marketing expertise in virtually any category, media discipline and distribution channel. When an opportunity arose, Gooding didn’t hesitate to plunge into this high-pressure arena.
“I had met Clemenger BBDO’s Senior Digital Producer Louise Sergent through a mutual friend,” Gooding said. “And she told me the company was looking for a Proofreader. Having done a similar job at New Zealand Woman’s Weekly I thought this sounded like an interesting new path to take with my writing and editing skills, so I went for it.”
The fact that Gooding had been an active freelance writer for a broad range of entertainment, arts and lifestyle publications and had also written and edited for New Zealand government organisations such as the New Zealand Music Commission and New Zealand On Air meant that she had a unique combination of sought-after skills in the advertising world. All of this made her a desirable candidate and led to her being offered the role of Proofreader at Clemenger BBDO.
Gooding currently works across a range of Clemenger Group companies including eg+ Worldwide, CHE Proximity and The Marketing Shop, and not just as the blue pencil-wielding proofer her job title implies. She helped conceive and deliver a campaign for LaunchVic, a Victorian state government organisation in Australia which provides $60 million of funding, networks and services for high-tech startup companies, and she has also written copy for Mercedes-Benz, Australia Post, National Australia Bank and Wealth Management Partners Group.
“It has been really exciting working with some of the most successful and critically acclaimed organisations in the world, and BBDO is definitely one of them. I get to polish ad copy right before it goes out into the world. It’s incredibly satisfying to make writing the best it can be, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. It’s also great contributing to award-winning campaigns and being a part of such a talented team.”
The versatile, driven Gooding already has a remarkable track record of achievements as a writer and editor, but at Clemenger BBDO she is really hitting her professional stride. “Sarah is an excellent writer who is creative, engaging and always submits work to deadline,” said writer and editor Isabelle Tolhurst. “Sarah’s writing, whether short or long form, is well researched, articulate and always conveys the desired spirit or tone. She is very talented indeed.”