Campaign Agency of the Decade shortlist: Mother

Mother: named Ad Agency of the Year in 2018
Mother: named Ad Agency of the Year in 2018

This week, Campaign is publishing (in no particular order) its shortlist for Agency of the Decade and showcasing the best work from these contenders over the past 10 years. It's Mother's turn today.

Mother has had a busy decade. From developing's "Epic strut" campaign and Ikea's famous "You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties" to one of the decade's standout print campaigns for KFC, "FCK" – it's no wonder the independent shop has made the shortlist for Campaign's Agency of the Decade. In fact, it was named this magazine's Advertising Agency of the Year in 2018.

Read on for some of Mother's finest work.

2010: Ikea 'You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties'

This campaign hit a universal truth: everyone gathers in the kitchen at parties. With this campaign, Mother wanted to help Ikea show that it had a "kitchen for every party".

Set to Jona Lewie's 1980 hit You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties, it shows four separate kitchen party scenes that showcase the breadth of the range and a guest appearance from Lewie himself. 

It was created by Feh Tarty, Stephen Butler, Mark Waites and Robert Saville, and directed by Kim Gehrig through Academy.

2011: Beck's 'Green box project'

Beck's sponsored 1,000 augmented-reality art projects for this campaign. To bring its support to life, Mother got a team of 30 artists – including Nick Knight, Kate MccGwire and Kenneth Cappello – to commission work from artists who applied to Beck's to take part.

The artists had to create a virtual-reality concept that would fit within a two-metre-cubed green box. Mother placed real-life boxes in London, Los Angeles, Manchester, Miami, Milan, New York and Rome. But only those who downloaded the Beck's app could unlock the (virtual) key to view what was inside.

2012: Ikea 'Playin with my friends'

Another Ikea spot, this one showing a group of children having a dinner party with their life-sized toys: a monkey, a bear, a superhero and a robot. At the end, the camera in the mirror revealed the toys were actually a group of adults – the message being that families have more fun when they're together. It was developed by Thom Whitaker and Danielle Noel, and directed by Dougal Wilson through Blink.

2013: Elle 'Make them pay'

Talking about pay is still very taboo – and many workplaces will warn against it. But this campaign, with Elle, encouraged women to ask the man sitting next to them what they earn. A full-page ad directed people to a website, where people could check if they were earning, on average, more or less than their male counterparts.

As prescient an issue now as it was then, it was created by Katie Mackay. The activity was reported by all the national newspapers and clocked up lots of social media hits for the brand.

2014: Stella Artois 'Fly like Rufus'

Tennis at Wimbledon sometimes gets disrupted by pigeons – so the court has its very own super hawk, Rufus, whose job it is to patrol the skies to scare them off. Directed by James W Griffiths through Indy8, the spot featured a "voiceover" by Rufus and was part of Stella's "Perfectionists" campaign.

"I don’t mind what you do, as long as you don’t do it on my turf," the security hawk warned the pigeons. The video racked up almost two million views on YouTube. 

2015: 'Epic strut'

Who can forget that derrière, those heels and that strut? This spot, featuring a voiceover by Sharon Osbourne and a shot of her at the end, really brought to life the Moneysupermarket brand – creating a character called Dave who felt so epic saving money on his car insurance that he went to work in hotpants and heels, twerking all the way to the office to R&B anthem Don’t Cha by The Pussycat Dolls.

Despite being one of the Advertising Standards Authority's most complained-about ads of the year, the work, directed by Fredrik Bond through Sonny London, was a huge success and won this magazine's Campaign of the Year in 2015. 

2016: Boots 'Ready for more'

This spot, for Boots No7, saw 53-year-old ballerina Alessandra Ferri perform with a hologram of her 19-year-old self, filmed dancing for the first time as a principal in a Royal Ballet production of Romeo & Juliet. The TV spot was directed by Tom Harper through Tomboy Films.

2017: Mother project 'Free the feed'

How do you start to remove the stigma around breastfeeding in public? Place a giant inflatable breast on top of a London building, of course. Based on insight that 63% of women are embarrassed to breastfeed in public, Mother created its own project to capture the attention of people and encourage them to take photos and share the hashtag #FreeTheFeed. 

Ana Balarin, who at the time was a new mother herself, created the concept with her husband and joint executive creative director Hermeti.

2018: KFC 'FCK' 

Mother turned a PR crisis into an exceptionally clever piece of work that genuinely changed people's opinions of the brand at a time when it needed it most.

Negative sentiment was rife as a result of a nationwide shortage of chicken and other ingredients at KFC as it changed its logistics supplier. Hundreds of restaurants had to be closed and staff faced abuse daily – but Mother helped save the day with this clucking clever print ad. 

It was placed in just Metro and The Sun, but prompted 700 press articles and TV discussions, going on to win awards including a Cannes gold Lion in Print & Publishing and Grand Prix for Campaign of the Year at the Campaign New Thinking Awards.

2019: Ikea 'Wildhomes for wildlife'

All beings deserve a nice home and not just humans – animals and insects, too, according to this work for Ikea to celebrate the launch of its sustainable Greenwich store.

Mother commissioned artists, architects and interior designers to create a number of wildlife homes from upcycled Ikea furniture, including a nest for solitary bees and wasps and a bat house. Designers included Adam Nathaniel Furman, Hattie Newman, Supermundane and Beep Studio.

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