Q&A with Ben Clare, newly appointed executive creative director at We Are Social.
CB: What attracted you the most about We Are Social?
BC: I love the fact that We Are Social is structured differently from a traditional agency. In addition to creative, media and production, there’s also a strong editorial team built of journalists and writers who keep track of impactful news stories, cultural shifts and emerging trends on a daily basis. Nowadays, culture moves at the speed of social and the editorial arm operates like a newsroom, feeding the agency invaluable insights that can lead to real-time reactive work or ideas for a longer campaign roadmap. It’s a really powerful accelerant and I can’t wait to see what opportunities and ideas it can provoke.
CB: What are your main aims and ambitions for We Are Social in the coming year?
BC: I’ll approach the job in the same way I’ve approached everything in my career to date – with the ambition to keep making work that breaks through the clutter. The world has never felt so fast, yet so open and in need of new ideas. I’m really looking forward to leaning on the agency’s global network of knowledge to develop work, content, and thinking that resonates in all the new and wonderful corners of culture. Beyond that, I’m excited to use the opportunity to strengthen the culture of creativity inside We Are Social and spend the time nurturing talent so they’re set up for success as the industry’s next leaders.
CB: What does creativity mean to you and how do you define it?
BC: I think the trouble with creativity is that it’s often so difficult to define. For me, it’s more a way of thinking than anything else. It’s a license to be illogical, and to go off-piste in an unexpected direction knowing you’ll eventually get to where you want through hard work. It’s not always pretty, hell it doesn’t even need to be beautiful. I think Einstein put it best when he said, “creativity is intelligence having fun.”
CB: Where do you see the most potential for innovative, cut-through creative in the next 5 years?
BC: I’m not one to make bold predictions, especially after the last few years, but I think the best advertising to emerge in the next few years won’t necessarily look like advertising. Content is everywhere right now. Consumers are perpetually bombarded by brands. Put bluntly, 99% of all ads now go ‘straight to DVD’ if they’re not good enough. On top of this, there are people out there paying money to avoid the very thing we spend our lives making. Sounds grim, but I’m optimistic it’ll create more authentic work that taps into societal moments and modern culture going forward.
To that end, elegant and effective storytelling (containing a real truth) will, in my humble opinion, forever resonate. But as Web3 and the metaverse comes into fruition, it’s undoubtedly set to become a magical new frontier; a whole universe of creative muscle for brands to flex in. Digital fashion, virtual concerts, fully immersive 3D worlds and gaming experiences unlike anything we’ve ever seen are just the beginning. No doubt there’ll be a lot of challenges with it, but the opportunity to be experimental, provide cool and immersive experiences and be innovative will triumph.
CB: You are a lecturer ad AWARD and Miami Ad School, contributing to the formation of the next generation of creatives. What do you look for and what’s your best advice for young creatives?
BC: I look for simplicity. And ideas. And perhaps a glimpse into the person creating the work. As for advice, I feel the simplest thing to remember is this; keep at it. They’re not the most inspirational words, but they are true. It’s okay to be insecure and full of self-doubt when you’re starting out. You get better with every brief, so never give up. Also, find a mentor early on to help you hone your craft. They can be an incredibly powerful ally and give you the confidence you’re headed in the right direction.