With a long-standing reputation as London's coolest agency, privately owned Mother continues to make waves and win plaudits for its creative work, although it has largely abandoned the quirkiness for which it was once known, at least as far as its ads are concerned. In fact, since 2000 the agency has moved firmly into the mainstream, although what was once a much-envied roster of blue-chip clients (including Coca-Cola, Boots and Unilever) has suffered some significant losses. That success also encouraged the agency to open an office in New York as well as an affiliate in Buenos Aires. In all other respects, this resolutely independent company is just as determined to do things differently, as it was when it launched over 20 years ago, not least with the founding partners' strict policy of never being photographed together unless in disguise.
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|Mother New York||Madre Buenos Aires|
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Apr 2018: Ads of the Week: "Ghosts". Mother regains all its creative energy for this superb new spot for Ikea, which follows a couple of slight misfires over the past few years. In our opinion, Mother's best work for Ikea has always been those ads that highlight the imagination and innovation of the products themselves, rather than focus on their human owners. The last such spot to bring Ikea's products to life, as it were, at least here in the UK, was the "T-Shirts" spot of a three years ago, which showed garments returning bird-like to roost in an Ikea cupboard. That ad's director Dougal Wilson is back in charge of this spot, overseeing some wonderfully anthropomorphic character puppetry. Fine work.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Apr 2018: Ads of the Week: "The Wave". We had the strangest dream: it was February 2017 and London agency Mother lost the whole Boots account to a dedicated WPP team led by Ogilvy... Clearly it can't have been true because more than a year later here's a brand new ad for Boots No 7 and it's still from Mother not Ogilvy. There have been a couple of ads from Ogilvy, but the No 7 cosmetics account - which also runs in the US under the banner of Boots' parent Walgreens - has remained at Mother. That's no bad thing because this is another fine spot, but sadly it is definitely Mother's last for the client. Like its predecessors, which featured variously a ballerina, a stuntwoman and a champion fencer, this is basically a standard endorsement spot, here from "age-defying" 49-year-old surfer Lisa Andersen. But those first 20 seconds are really something out of the ordinary, grabbing the attention with some startling imagery.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Mar 2018: Ads of the Week: "Epic Action Man". Mother goes out with a bang for MoneySupermarket. In what is destined to be the agency's last campaign for the price comps website - the account went into review last week - Mother tops its strutting businessman and dancing Masters of the Universe by resurrecting another 70s icon, Action Man. (GI Joe to our US readers). Men of a certain age will be moist-eyed to see their beloved childhood companion back in action, and with all the old costumes and accessories. Ah, the memories! And such moves! And facial hair! Action Man could certainly teach the Village People a thing or two.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Mar 2018: Price comparison service MoneySupermarket.com called a surprise pitch for its UK creative business, despite the massive attention which incumbent Mother's work - most recently featuring a dance-off between Master of the Universe's He-man and Skeletor - have generated. "We are proud of, and grateful for, the work Mother have delivered for our brand," said the client. "[but] as we evolve our business strategy and look to reinvent price comparison to drive new areas of growth, we are looking for a new creative partner to help us capitalise on these opportunities."
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Dec 2017: Ads of the Week: "Be The Gift". For most people, Christmas and New Year is a time for celebration, but for some it can be the loneliest week of the year. Mother does a fine job of trying to rebuild the Nokia handset brand - now managed by an independent Finnish company under license - with a touching film about a mother (hey, coincidence!) and her absent son, connected only by their mobiles. It's a familiar theme for any Christmas, but seems to be even more prevalent in 2017.
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Free to all users | see full profile for current activities: Originally one of a clutch of London-based "new wave" advertising boutiques, the agency was conceived by former GGT creative director Robert Saville, who jumped ship in 1996 when he was offered the opportunity of handling the launch campaign for the UK's newest terrestrial TV broadcaster, Channel 5. He recruited three partners, creative Mark Waites from McCann-Erickson Worldwide's Amster Yard, New York; Stef Calcraft, previously account director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty; and Libby Brockhoff, an American art director also from GGT (who subsequently returned to the US to join Carmichael Lynch and later co-founded Odysseus Arms in San Francisco).
There are different accounts as to who chose the name. It seems to have been Brockhoff, as a knowing reference to both family and fearsomeness (as in the slang, "a mean mother..." or "mother of all wars". The traitorous computer in the movie Alien was also called Mother). At one point in the 1990s, Saville took credit for the choice, pointing out that your mother can be relied upon, creates things but also occasionally tells you stuff you don't want to hear. The agency's philosophy was "to do the best work you can, make a living and have fun". Adding to the agency's reputation for doing things differently, employees' business cards were for several years illustrated only with pictures of each staff member's mother. Now, the agency's rough equivalent of account executives are referred to internally as "mothers", while PAs are "nannies".
The striking and unusual campaign for Channel 5 worked well, although Mother subsequently lost the account in 1998. Shortly afterwards Mother launched Whitbread's vodka drink Source with a memorable TV campaign featuring two Swedish terrorist babes on the run. It seemed the agency could be relied upon to make even a dull brand seem fascinating. Mother also earned a reputation for getting clients involved in and "owning" the creative process. The approach worked. The shop had no problem attracting the best new creative talent, and was famed for winning every account for which it pitched. It was Campaign's Agency of the Year in 2001, and again in 2002, a consecutive achievement equalled previously only by AMV.BBDO. In 2002, Mother enjoyed an exceptionally good year, accumulating more than £80m of new business, including the much-prized Orange account. It also won its first piece of US work, producing a typically quirky safe sex campaign for MTV that began airing in the US in 2003 (and later won an Emmy Award).
In 2003 the group snatched the prized £90m Boots account away from WPP, its first mass-market retail account, and the biggest UK pitch that year. More importantly, the company extended its influence within Coca-Cola, after several years working on the group's brands in the UK. Mother's 'I Wish' ad for the main Coca-Cola brand was picked by the US company to run in more than 20 worldwide markets during 2004, and was the first Coke ad to run in the US which had been created outside the country. See full profile for current activities
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