Independent agency of the year 2019: Mother

Independent agency Mother, founded in London in 1996, continues to go from strength to strength.

It was named Advertising Agency of the Year 2018, in Campaign UK’s most recent Agency of the Year awards, scooping the top accolade for its raft of new business wins and thought-provoking and influential creative work. 

It’s been a similar story for Mother in the US, with 2019 proving to be a stellar year for the business, the workforce, the workplace and creative thinking. Of the agency of record contracts Mother pitched in during this year, 85% were successful.

The agency brought in more new business than in recent years and posted its fourth consecutive year of double digit growth. It bagged TripAdvisor’s global creative account, and was named agency of record for Sonic, the US’ largest drive-in restaurant brand. Wrangler was another significant win, with Mother’s remit covering branding development and communications across print, digital, broadcast and out-of-home.

Its first-ever global campaign for the denim brand, ‘Wear with abandon’, was inspired by Wrangler’s rich heritage and the cowboy code.  For Stella Artois and the Super Bowl, Mother focused on encouraging people to change their habits and do some good. It featured two celebrities ‘coming out of retirement’ - Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw (portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker) and The Big Lebowski character The Dude (played by Jeff Bridges), swopping their favourite cocktails for beers. The spot also highlighted Stella Artois’ initiative aimed at clean water access. Stella Artois was the number three most talked about brand on social media during the game, while purchase frequency of Stella Artois increased by 15.1%.

Mother’s ‘Insta Novels’ campaign for the New York Public Library (NYPL), meanwhile has proved a hit since its launch in 2018, reaching out to scores of younger people fixated on their devices. The campaign featured three classic works of literature, each given an Instagram Stories treatment. Mother says the campaign "hit its stride in 2019", with NYPL’s Instagram following having grown by 80%, and a growing audience inspired by lifelong learning. 

Mother also produced a memorable campaign for retail giant Target - its relationship with the brand stretches back more than 10 years. The brand’s holiday campaign, ‘Thinking of you’, drew inspiration from Target customers and the different ways they mark the holidays. It featured music artist Sam Smith and Mexican singer and actress Danna Paola, with an original take on the 1970s classic I Feel Love.

The agency’s US management team looks more solid than ever, with 2019 marking the first full year for the leadership team of Corinna Falusi, Aarti Thiagarajan and James Fraser, supported by US partners Peter Ravailhe, Paul Malstrom and Charlie McKittrick, and LA’s leadership Joe Staples and Romain Naegelen.

The agency has also challenged creativity to drive change, producing a series of window and gallery installations in celebration of World Pride. Mother said it wanted "to remind our community that the fight is not yet over. By supporting organizations like Audre Lorde Project and Callen Lorde this year, we helped sustain the communities that nurture our own."

Mother has also been active on the diversity front, continuing to invest in initiatives like MAIP - the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program and The One Club’s ‘Here Are All The Black People’. It also prides itself in seeking talent in unlikely places, with an internship program that deliberately seeks out those who haven’t been through a standard pathway to advertising. Applications are sent to portfolio schools and national universities alike, ensuring the net is cast wide, to students of all majors and backgrounds. It’s an approach that seems to be working, with turnover below the industry average. 

New for 2019 was a particular focus on motherhood, with the office redesigned to help boost mothers’ well-being, including the creation of a nursing room.