5 Minutes With: Adam Cleaver, Creative Director at Collective London

Published by

Collective London create highly effective interactive work through insightful strategy, innovative ideas, and beautifully crafted experiences that people want to share.

How did you get into advertising?
After finishing university I answered an advert in the Times for copywriters at Reader’s Digest. I spent two years writing their legendary prize draw mailings “Yes Mr , you are only three steps away from winning £250,000!”, teamed up with an Art Director and put a book of ideas together that got me a job at direct marketing agency BHWG. After a couple of years honing my conceptual abilities, I left to become Head of Copy at what was then a relevantly small digital agency called AKQA. Five years later I left and co-founded Collective.

What does a typical day consist of?
It varies hugely depending on whether we’re pitching or not but it’s usually a mix of getting my head around new briefs, coming up with ideas, looking over work, proffering occasionally useful advice and lots of meetings. I’m increasingly trying to restrict reading and answering emails to the start and end of the day. And you know what? The world hasn’t imploded.

What's been the highlight of your career?
I’d pick two. I was fortunate enough to be involved in the pitch team that help secure the European Nike account for AKQA. At Collective the biggest highlight was winning the Honda UK account against a host of big and bright agencies.

What's the most notable change in the industry in the last few years?
The rise of social/mobile and the increasing need for more intellectual rigour around ‘digital’. We’ve invested hugely in our strategic and analytics offering and it means that we’re now able to link engagement directly to ROI and sales. Which is nice.

Who is your hero?
As much as I have a healthy respect for my peers in the marketing and communication industries, my definition of ‘hero’ involves risking your life in the advancement of science. In other words, people that strap themselves to rockets and go into space. My favourite of those is a certain Mr N Armstrong, RIP.

What would you be doing if you weren't in the industry?
I had a record deal at University (a techno/progressive-house band you definitely won’t have heard of). So I like to think I’d be some kind of megastar dance music producer. But I’d have probably ended up developing persuasive arguments in another field. Perhaps as a lawyer. It goes without saying, I’m pleased I didn’t.

What campaign do you wish you'd come up with?
It’s actually an app – the Elmo Calls app from Sesame Street. Utter genius in so many ways.

What do you want to be remembered for?
1) Being a good dad 2) That world-first, life-changing creative idea I’m yet to come up with.

What do you love most about your job?
The creative process. Well, the bit when we get to an idea that we’re all happy with. These days I’m more likely to be helping shape those ideas than developing them, but nothing beats that sense of fatherly pride I feel when we’ve created something good.

If you could give one piece of advice for someone starting out, what would it be?
Craft what you do. Think every detail through. That applies to the way you develop ideas to the way you describe, present and execute them. Do that and your work will be bullet-proof.

If you were a superhero what powers would you have?
The power of foresight

When you grow up what do you want to be?
An astronaut

What was your worst job and what did you learn from it? 

Night shifts order-picking in a huge, chilled Tesco warehouse. I learnt that I should pass exams to avoid working in freezing cold warehouses all night.

Which big brand would you like to work with next?
The one that’s up for doing interesting work that seeks to engage rather than interrupt.

What's the next big thing?
Something none of us expected that makes our information-overloaded world much easier to consume.

What app/website can't you live without?
I’m an old git so I can live without all of them. I really can.

  Website: collectivelondon.com

   Twitter: @CollectiveLDN

   Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveLondon

   Twitter: @Cleavsey


More Features



Getting to Know... Shnoosee Bailey, ECD & Managing Partner at HeyHuman

Imagination is a tough and cheeky beast to tame. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes it works just enough to get you annoyed for not coming up with a full-rounded idea. In other cases, it starts really early-on - with a tree looking...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial


Member Spotlight: Love of People in Adam Shaw's Photography

One would guess the pandemic is hurting extroverts way more than the other end of the spectrum, but freelance photographer Adam Shaw is the living proof that that is really not the case. Though he declares himself an introvert by nature, Adam loves...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial


Member Spotlight: the Surgical Horror in Andrzej Kuziola's Art

Reading this interview with 3D illustrator Andrzej Kuziola and looking at his stunning works of art, we would almost be tempted to steer clear of any artist coming from a medical background. Andrzej's imagination can be triggered by anything - be it...

Posted by: Creativepool Editorial