The deal has not been finalised but the Interpublic agency is now in advanced talks about a takeover, which could be completed by September.
Dale Gall, MullenLowe’s UK chief executive, confirmed talks had taken place but would not comment on the specifics of the deal. 101 did not comment.
The move will help MullenLowe rebuild its creative department following the departure of executive creative directors Rich Denney, Emma Perkins and Eloise Smith earlier this year. 101’s 50 employees are likely to move into MullenLowe’s Shoreditch office.
Alex Lekikh, MullenLowe’s global chief executive, is an admirer of 101, having worked with its founding partners Laurence Green, Mark Elwood and Steve Waring. The trio founded 101 in 2011 with Phil Rumbol, a former Cadbury marketer, and Fallon alumnus Richard Flintham, who left 101 in 2015.
Being part of MullenLowe would enable 101 to pitch for global accounts. The agency lost Costa’s business earlier this year after the brand expressed its desire to expand in China and subsequently hired Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
Gall said of 101: "We have long admired its talent and focus on long-term brand-building and creative effectiveness across the customer journey."