Q&A: Ben Mooge – Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Groupe UK

Ben Mooge

The Caples Awards has announced the new president fronting the awards show for 2022 will be Ben Mooge, Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Groupe UK. Mooge joined Publicis Groupe in the newly-created role back in 2019.

Speaking about his being tapped by The Caples Awards, Mooge said: “As President, what I want The Caples to do is remind us all of advertising’s purpose. And that is to make the power of creativity work to good effect. I want to further the reach of that power by finding new voices to tell their stories in the most unique and diverse ways. So we’ll be launching a Newcomers category for students and creatives currently outside the industry to help them find a way in.

Patrick Collister recently caught up with Mooge to talk about some of his favorite creative work, pressures of the job, his thoughts on the importance of awards shows, and more.

 
 

In your career, what one piece of work are you most proud of?

I’ve always had a soft spot for QTV, which was the music channel we launched for Q magazine in 2001. It was one of those moments when all the stars aligned – we cast a very young Martin Freeman to play a deluded music wannabe who thought he was as talented as the stars on the channel, and we co-wrote it with the director Graham Linehan (Father Ted, Black Books, Big Train). We made 20 spots over two days, improvising all the time. It didn’t feel like work and it won a couple of D&AD Yellow Pencils. Lovely.

What are the pressures and what are the rewards of a huge job such as yours?

My job is to infuse creativity across the group, which is five separate creative agencies, plus influence and PR agencies and the media agencies, which is obviously a big task but an obvious reward is the creative people I’m surrounded by – Chaka Sobhani, Mark Elwood, Dave Monk, Guillermo Vega, Kerry Roper, Emma De La Fosse. It’s a privilege to interact with them.

 
 

I don’t pine for the old days when I was a simple creative because you never stop being that (a simple creative and I was simple). I write all the time. There’s always a pitch or a project I can sometimes be useful on–or an ad to write for The Caples.

How was lockdown for you personally?

I think I had a similar experience to every other creative person. Novelty, then novelty wearing off quickly, then frustration, then relief. I think the new normal can be summed up in the work you’re doing. You know you need agency culture and department competition to inspire you in the office and you also know it might be better to write your work in the peace and quiet of your kitchen or the café. The new normal has to be in the service of the creative product.

What creative interests do you have outside work that helps counterbalance the stresses of your job?

I’m not sure external creative projects have ever counterbalanced the strains of work for me. I’ve written screenplays before but I always seemed to get more stressed at those happening or not happening. A friend of mine gave me a good idea that I think I’m going to follow – he turns all of those half-thoughts into short stories. Don’t worry about a big project that might never happen – instead make something small that can’t help but happen.

If you weren’t in advertising, what would you be doing now?

God knows. I’ve got an English degree, so what do you do with that? There’s the job no-one told me about (advertising) or there’s journalism or there’s teaching. I don’t have the patience to be a teacher. So I’ll take football journalism, please.

“Don’t worry about a big project that might never happen – instead make something small that can’t help but happen.”

Are awards important?

Yes. Because they are a permanent record of creativity. They set the bar.

What does it mean to be President of the Jury at The Caples 2022?

It means a lot to be able to help further a very on-point idea (free; for creatives by creatives). And to follow someone like Steve Aldridge to spread the story of these creative-first awards.

What sort of work are you hoping to see?

New work. I love seeing something I’ve never seen before and when that happens at awards-level standard it’s a reminder of why we do what we do.

What is your one, all-time favorite piece of advertising?

‘Climate Name Change’ from Barton F. Graf. Such a smart idea, and just so well written. It does purpose and sustainability whilst also satirizing with the sharpest wit. Perfect.


You can find out more about the Caples Awards here.

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