Posted 06 July 2023
Interview by Frankie Faccion
Mention Zera Mohamed
Mention Lucy Cameron

Meet Zera Mohamed and Lucy Cameron: Anomaly’s junior creatives who aren’t afraid of criticism

Zera Mohamed and Lucy Cameron met at university where they worked on the “worst brief ever” together. Though the end result was “a mess”, they found themselves so creatively compatible that they decided to try out working as a creative duo. Not long after, they worked to produce a successful campaign with their local McDonald’s, encouraging fellow Lincoln students to donate burgers to the homeless. Upon graduating, the pair found a mentor through Creative Mentor Network, who helped them get their feet in the door at Havas. Now, they work as full-time junior creatives at Anomaly, ideating and producing ad campaigns, PR stunts and more on the daily. They tell us how being open to criticism is essential, and explore the importance of creative mentorship.

Zera Mohamed and Lucy Cameron

Zera Mohamed and Lucy Cameron

Job Title

Junior creatives, Anomaly



Place of Study

University of Lincoln, Creative Advertising (2016-2019)

Social Media

Zera’s LinkedIn
Lucy’s LinkedIn

What we do

How would you describe what you both do at Anomaly?
We’re a team that gets paid to think creatively. We’re both hybrid creatives, though Lucy mainly takes the copywriter role and Zera takes art directing. The ideation is a combined effort, though. We come up with ideas and concepts for ad campaigns, PR stunts and social content and activation ideas. Since being at Anomaly, we’ve worked on projects for cars, soft drinks, skincare, travel and luxury brands.

At Anomaly, no two days are the same. We could be working on a few mini projects at once, on social activation projects – or even one big project that we can get stuck into. It’s constantly changing, which we like! The brands we work with are all really different, so the way we think and ideate is always changing too. Each brief feels like an entirely unique challenge to conquer.

“Together, we come up with ideas and concepts for ad campaigns, PR stunts and social content and activation ideas.”

A key visual from the Coca Cola campaign Zera and Lucy worked on for Anomaly

Can you tell us about how you two met and began working as a creative duo?
We met at university. Ironically, we were working on a group project together and had the worst brief ever! It was extremely messy but we found that our partnership was so great.

As soon as we began as a duo, we were assigned a uni project where we chose to do something centred around homelessness. We created a campaign called McDeed with our local McDonald’s and a charity called Let Them Eat Cake, who do nightly runs giving fresh meals to those in need. The aim was to get uni students to gift their free burgers to the homeless. We would then take the donated burgers and do regular food drops to homeless shelters.

We set up a meeting to be in the room with the local McDonald’s manager and pitched the idea to him. Once he was sold, we discussed the process of how we’d do it. We created “McDeed notes” that would come with each burger. Every time a student asked to do a McDeed, they’d be given the note to fill out, saying something like “Hope you enjoy.” The notes would be kept behind the till until the food drop days.

We joined Let Them Eat Cake every Thursday with our freshly made burgers, complimentary water and fruit bags. It was originally meant to last one week but due to the success, it went on for around five. We put up flyers and posters all around our campus, advertised it on student pages on Facebook and Instagram. It was such a wholesome experience that really took off! We both want to make a difference in the world, and doing that together was like: Yeah, we’ve got something great here.

“We created a campaign called McDeed with our local McDonald’s to encourage students to gift their free burger to those in need.”

An article that was published on The Tab about Zera and Lucy’s Mcdonald’s campaign
Zera lucy creativelivesinprogress 09

The McDeed flyers Zera and Lucy stuck around their university campus

Zera lucy creativelivesinprogress 08

Some of the McDeeds from Zera and Lucy’s weekly food drops

Zera lucy creativelivesinprogress 12

Zera and Lucy on a weekly food drop with local homelessness charity Let Them Eat Cake

What are the main influences and inspirations behind your work? Do you often have creative differences?
We haven’t had any big creative differences yet!

We’re interested in insights on how people behave, or a really interesting fact. So a lot of our ideas come from thinking, “Have you ever noticed how people...” or ”Isn’t it funny how...” It’s what we call our “golden nugget”.

When an idea is based on a human truth like this, you can’t really argue with it. Like with McDeed, the insight is students get given things for free which we don’t always need, but there are people who do actually need it. McDonald’s give those free burgers anyway so it wouldn’t cost them anything. This was the “golden nugget” – the undeniable truth that sold the idea to the manager when we proposed it to him.

Zera lucy creativelivesinprogress 23

Images from Zera and Lucy’s McDeed pitch for Mcdonald’s

Zera mohammed lucy cameron creativelivesinprogress 27

Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
We both did a creative advertising degree and although it was great to have met each other – it’s so not needed. But it helps to have someone guide you. There are a lot of agencies now that do internships to train you. Free courses and mentorship schemes like Brixton Finishing School and Creative Mentor Network can also help you get into the industry. We highly recommend them!

Really, you should just be a sponge and soak up everything around you. Always ask questions! And being open to criticism is the most essential thing. Don’t be precious with your ideas. Be willing to let them go if they’re not sticking. Though it can be hard to hear that someone isn’t keen on the ideas you’ve presented, you’ll always come up with something better if you take criticism well.

“Being open to criticism is the most essential thing. Don’t be precious with your ideas.”

Zera and Lucy’s work on a TripAdvisor brief

How I got here

What was your journey like when you were first starting out?
Starting out wasn’t easy. We both left uni and went back to our home towns of Milton Keynes and Norwich, which are miles apart, so we’d work virtually. This was pre-Covid so people found it super-strange!

A couple of months later, Covid hit and agencies weren’t looking to have placement teams, putting everything on pause. Tragic. During that big gap, we did some book work and courses like AdCademy. Zera did Samsung’s Not a School programme and competition which she learnt so much from and led her to a lot of other opportunities.

Once lockdown eased a bit, we landed our first placement for a month through a creative direction team we’d kept in touch with. Then our friend and great mentor Robbie Greatrex from a CMN [Creative Mentor Network] mentorship scheme helped us polish our portfolio. This got us a placement at Havas (shout out to Tom and Greg). Those two are great mentors and we loved our time there. After five months we moved to Anomaly, which is where we’ve landed our first permanent job!

How did you go about landing the job at Havas?
We had friends who told us to apply. At this time we were also on the Linkedin “Backing Banners” campaign created by Christopher Joyce and Perle Artet [using the LinkedIn header banner to promote new creatives] so we were on their radar.

But yeah, we got in and like sponges soaked everything up and did our best. We had lots of failures and concepts rejected, but they loved how we always showed up with more ideas that really impressed them. So after three months they made us permanent!

The LinkedIn Backing Banners campaign, made to promote junior creatives

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
The biggest challenges are: money, living outside of London and not having parents or someone we know in the industry.

Advertising is really hard to get into for people who don’t have connections, but especially for those in underrepresented groups. Things are getting better but it’s still tough. There are some organisations working to improve these conditions, like Brixton Finishing School, AdCademy and Creative Mentor Network’s Soho Mentorship scheme.

“Advertising is really hard to get into for people who don’t have connections, but especially for those in underrepresented groups.”

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
Two notable ads that we’ve loved in the past year are Birds Eye Green’s Welcome to the Plant Age for its impeccable use and delivery of human insights and Chicken Licken’s Feel the Fire (below) for its spectacular storytelling and humour.

Things in culture. Movies like Everything Everywhere All at Once. And Twitter is great for the best copywriting and art direction. Tweet delivery is an art – the best caption partnered with the best picture or gif. It needs to be studied.

Having mentorships from people in the industry has also been so helpful. Robbie Greatrex really helped us polish our portfolio and at Anomaly, we have our lead managers Danny Pallett and Charlotte Hugh, who invest so much time in improving our skills.

How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work?
Platforms like LinkedIn are key. Plus, having an online version of your portfolio. We don’t have a website, Zera’s just great at finding people and their work emails, so that’s given us visibility as well as things like the Backing Banners campaign.

Keeping in touch with your network is super-important. We’ve done a few initiative campaigns and spread the word to new and old connections – and those initiatives are what we’re remembered for.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as creatives?
We still have a lot to learn with making more money. But we’re so lucky that hybrid and flexible working is a thing now, as it’s allowed us to stay outside London where we’re from and commute in two days a week. That hasn’t helped us make money necessarily, but has definitely helped us to retain it.

My advice

Do you have any advice for creatives looking to form a creative duo?
Young Creative Council’s Single Mingle events and Casual Creatives Network, a WhatsApp group run by Larisa Wong and Callum Ritchie. It’s a big group where people share opportunities they’re either looking for or have heard about. They host meet-ups as well, which is great as you get to meet like-minded people in the same boat as you.

The best advice is to ask each other about your goals and what you want to achieve. Can you both happily pass on work or opportunities if they doesn’t align with the other’s ethical, religious or moral beliefs? It’s important you have a partner who will side with you when you want to pass on stuff you don’t agree with.

We both love human insights and found that so interesting to observe and talk about, so that ticked a box of something we share. Also, we strongly aligned on wanting to make purposeful work and use advertising to create change.

We’re really good friends who respect each other’s opinions and we cherish having separate lives outside of work so living together is a no. Don’t feel like you have to live in your partners’ pocket just because you see other people doing that.

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice for when you’re starting out is to be a sponge and soak everything up! Talk to people, be curious. Show you’re willing to learn and improve. Similarly, no one’s judging you based on whether you cracked the brief, but if you thought of something really interesting. Therefore, come up with ideas that are completely different to your peers’ and what’s already out there.

You also need to be able to judge your own work. Although feedback is helpful in curating the best work, sometimes there are too many cooks! So you need to decide whose opinion is staying in the kitchen, and whose you'll respectfully pass on.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Meet as many people as possible! It’s so cliché but it is honestly who you know that helps the most. Stalk them on LinkedIn, find out their emails, keep in touch!

Not all teams will get your book, or you as a team. At the start, we’d try to take on board everyone’s opinion, and in the end it just takes away from the idea! So find a circle of people that you look up to and value the opinions of, and consider changes based on the feedback they give you.

You want to keep improving obviously, but make sure the work stays true to who you are and what you want to be making.

Interview by Frankie Faccion
Mention Zera Mohamed
Mention Lucy Cameron