We recently interviewed Ben Clapp and Stephen Lynch to find out why they chose freelancing and more about being Senior Creatives.
What is a Senior Creative, and what do you do?
Ben: A senior creative works in the creative department of an advertising agency. Our job is to conceive campaigns based on a brief, then oversee the idea from concept to finished ad, be it on TV or the side of a bus.
Stephen: We're mostly responsible for the initial ideation of a campaign but we also work with photographers, directors, illustrators and production companies to bring a campaign to life.
How long have you been freelancing?
Ben: About 4 years now. Before that, my roles were mainly permanent.
Stephen: I've been freelancing since 2018 after working full time in advertising agencies for over 15 years.
Why did you decide to go freelance?
Stephen: In 2018 I decided to take a sabbatical from the agency I had been working at for 7 years. So after a lot of planning, I set off travelling around South America for a few months. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I'm so glad I took the risk to do it but halfway through my trip I found out that my role at the agency was, unfortunately, being made redundant. When I got back it just felt like the right time to go freelance; so my creative partner Ben and I have been working in different agencies around town since then.
How did you become a Senior Creative?
Ben: Like many aspiring creatives, I took a post-graduate diploma in Copywriting & Art Direction at Watford College. After a year of work placements, I landed my first job and went on to work at several agencies including Mother, 4Creative, Saatchi & Saatchi and Havas.
Stephen: I graduated with a Masters in Advertising in my home town Dublin back in 2003. I moved to London in 2004 and got a job as a junior art director and designer. I worked as a solo creative for several years before partnering up with Ben, who's a copywriter, thus forming a creative team.
Ben & Stevie are one of those great pair of grown up thinkers versatile enough to take on any brief and approach it with the same simple approach and always find a fresh creative way in. We asked them to work across a range of accounts and collaborate with lots of different project teams within the agency, the feedback was always boringly consistent about just how good AND how nice these guys are. They should be in your little black book of go to creative problem solvers.
Elliot Harris, RB Global Executive Creative Director & Creative Partner Havas London
What's the best thing about choosing to be an independent professional in your field?
Ben: You get to work with a broad selection of people. Every agency has its own culture, and switching between big corporates and small independents keeps things fresh.
Stephen: Freelancing enables us to work at several different agencies across many varied briefs. It means no two days are ever the same and it's never boring.
Has there been any negatives of your choice?
Ben: Not knowing when the next job will come. That said, I like the spontaneous nature of freelance… and something always turns up in the end.
Stephen: The uncertainty of it all. You could be working one week and not have work the next. It can be challenging managing finances and frustrating when two jobs come up at once and we have to turn one down.
What's one thing no one ever told you about freelancing you wished you'd known at the beginning?
Ben: Sometimes it can be intimidating going into a new agency where everyone knows each other really well. Truth is, many will be freelancers just like you and probably feeling the same.
Stephen: Just how much work you do that never sees the light of day. As freelancers, we are often brought in to work on new business pitches or as an extra pair of hands on a project. A lot of work is done but only about 30% of the briefs we work on actually end up getting made.
How has YunoJuno helped you as a freelancer?
Ben: You feel looked after. The booking and payment process is beautifully clear and straightforward, meaning I can focus on the job in hand and not worry about things like getting paid on time.
Stephen: Finance! Some agencies are notoriously difficult with paying invoices. YJ has made chasing for payment a thing of the past which in turn makes it much easier to forecast and manage finances.
Can you talk about a project you're proud to have worked on?
Ben: We’re very proud of our latest work for Durex, which was completed at Havas London. The campaign celebrates members of the LGBTQ+ community who have overcome personal and societal hurdles to live their sex life their way, and was launched with the UK’s largest ever LGBTQ+ sex survey in partnership with Stonewall.
Stephen: Ben and I love to work on briefs that have a good cause at their heart. Over the years we have worked on campaigns for NHS Blood and Organ Donation, Unseen; the modern slavery charity, as well as campaigns promoting culture change within HSBC and raising awareness of the efforts of Heathrow Airport to tackle climate change. We always do our best work when there's a good cause or philanthropic element behind the campaign. We've just finished working on a pitch at Good Agency and are hoping to continue creating advertising that can make a positive impact on the world.
NHS BLOOD AND TRANSPLANT - Better Left Unsaid
A series of four Facebook films encouraging people to share their organ donation wishes with a loved one on Valentine’s Day. Using humour to cut through and deliver a tricky message, our campaign gained over a million organic views in a week and was shortlisted for a Cannes Lion.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become a Senior Creative?
Ben: You don’t have to be working on a global campaign for Nike to do great work, just focus on the brief in hand. Some of the most successful and rewarding campaigns we’ve worked on had little or no media spend behind them. Award-winning advertising can be squeezed out of any brief, whatever the budget, all you have to do is come up with an amazing idea!
Stephen: Speak up when you have something to say and don't take criticism of your work personally. Your idea will be tested and critiqued by many, many people before it even gets out the door of the agency. Then the client will have their say and ultimately the public. So you need to be able to roll with the punches and be open to adapt.
If a client was reading this, why should they hire you?
Ben: I’ll let our work and references answer that one. All I can say is every client we’ve freelanced for has invited us back, so we must be doing something right.
Stephen: Ben and I are a versatile creative team with experience across many marketing disciplines. Advertising is a powerful communication tool and we are passionate about harnessing that power to make the world a better place. I was one of the founding directors of Outvertising, the not-for-profit LGBTQ+advertising and marketing advocacy group. Ben and I are passionate about representation, diversity and inclusivity and always strive to incorporate those principles in our creative output.
Having been the founding Creative partner and ECD of Aesop agency i worked with Stevie and Ben for 6 years and can confirm they are creative super stars! They would relentlessly work to crack any brief, from the FMCG fun stuff, to the dryer Financial sector, always pushing the boundaries for greatness, always delivering fresh ideas that really work. Their experience spans from BTL to ATL, as well as being incredibly savvy with emerging tech. They are bright, empathetic, strategic, great with clients, team players and definitely the yin to the others yan. Beyond all of that, Stevie and Ben are genuine lovely chaps and I throughly enjoyed working with them... Looking forward to seeing the brilliant work I'm sure they will achieve in the coming years!
Martin Grimer, ECD, Aesop Agency
Meet Ben & Stephen
Ben Clapp and Stephen Lynch are a senior creative team working in London. Over the last four years they have worked at Aesop, Saatchi & Saatchi, Havas and GOOD Agency, delivering campaigns for clients including NHS Blood & Transplant, HBO, Heathrow and Durex.