Creative Insights: Hopeful Monsters' Carl Moggridge and his deliberate, meandering misstep into advertising

By Ruby Derrick | 7 February 2024

Creative Insights is an AdNews series investigating and uncovering the secrets of the creative side of advertising.

Carl Moggridge: creative partner at Hopeful Monsters

How did you fall into the industry? Was it deliberate or a misstep?

After leaving school, I had very loose aspirations to be a sports psychologist. Unfortunately, I prioritised messing about over understanding biomechanics and the Oedipus complex. 

Keen to extend my messing about years, I ended up getting a degree in marketing at the only University that would have me. However, my laughably titled dissertation, ‘How does the use of humour in beer advertising influence recall?’ opened my eyes to the industry.  

That said, my path into a creative role was long, spending most of my career as a planner. I was always pretty vocal about the work and often threw ideas in. Sometimes they got bought, but more often than not, they pissed the creatives off. 

Now I’m putting my money where my mouth is and realising it’s a lot harder than it looks. 

So to answer your question, it was a deliberate, meandering misstep. 

What’s your secret sauce for commercial creativity?

When we launched Hopeful Monsters, I stumbled upon this obscure study from 1971. Some guy went to the effort of studying what makes something interesting versus boring. 

Essentially, interesting ideas challenge people’s assumptions, and boring ideas affirm them. Not that it’s easy to pull off, but in my book, the best commercial creativity challenges how people think about things. It’s the difference between a great idea and just filling the world with forgettable content. 

What’s the biggest hurdle now for creatives?

Getting your hands on really good briefs with some jeopardy in them. Increasingly, briefs (from clients and planners) are void of genuine problems to solve. Problems that are grounded in culture and provoke.

Instead, they’re a laundry list of abstract marketing science requirements or shallow metrics to hit. 

I think this explains why far too many agencies go to the lengths of investing their own time and money to make up briefs to crack so that they can win awards.  

Basically, the more important and interesting the problem, the more chance you have of making something wicked.

Do you wear the black t-shirt uniform or are you a nonconformist?

Occasionally, but certainly not on rotation. My fun thing to do at the moment is to get my four year-old to choose my next purchase. 

I’m writing this wearing a cream T-shirt with high voltage emblazoned on the back. Given I’m not very high voltage, I think she’s trying to tell me something.  

Can commercial creativity only take place in a room full of people in black T-shirts?

Absolutely not. I love hearing the entire team’s view on what we could do, not just for our clients but the agency. Yeah, you get some rough stuff, but you also get a lot that’s unexpected. 

I really don’t care what T-shirt they’re wearing, the best idea wins and then everyone has to get behind it. 

To be honest, most of my job is about developing a creative environment across the agency, not just the creative department. Every single team has an important role to play in delivering great work. If we aren’t all on board and up for it, client included, things fall over. 

What was the latest campaign that you worked on that you really enjoyed?

Our recent ‘Takeover Tomorrow’ campaign for Adobe was fun. To launch its new generative AI product Firefly across APAC, we showed how it has the ability to reimagine the world around us. 

For example, we took the crusty old Sydney Town Hall and unleashed young architect Victor Au’s imagination on it. Despite decades of debate about its future, Victor nailed it in a week. 

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