School Reports 2015: Mother


Score: 6  Last year: 7

Mother turned 18 in 2014 and spent the year proving that it still does some things about as well as they can be done. Take "the wonderful everyday" for Ikea. We named it Campaign of the Year – "beds" was especially striking – and it created a strong identity for the furniture retailer. Meanwhile, work for, Stella Artois and Boots showed that Ikea was no fluke.

Mother was hardly a new-business juggernaut last year but there were some wins, most notably the United Nations and Hovis. The latter, which was previously at J Walter Thompson, holds particular promise.

But if the agency did not win much, then it did not lose much either. Pot Noodle had been quiet before exiting, although the seafood brand Young’s was a multimillion-pound account. On the personnel side, Dylan Williams’ departure came as a shock. And confirmation of the partner Stef Calcraft’s imminent exit left the management looking underweight.

If there is one concern, it is that Mother is not showing the depth that agencies such as Adam & Eve/DDB and Bartle Bogle Hegarty are striving for. At this point, it’s hard to imagine monster clients that are increasingly looking for one agency to do it all, such as Tesco, finding an answer in Mother.

It may be that, as an independent, such accounts are not on the agenda. But, at the same time, Mother has yet to show that it is sustainably branching out into other forms of content for brands, even if there is no question of its talents in that department.

If this is an issue of the agency’s maturity, then its lack thereof can also be cause for celebration. In December, Mother flew a Jesus impersonator from Los Angeles to London to wander the streets, harass our politicians (well, just Nigel Farage) and generally cause a stir. It was superb. Here’s hoping there are parts of the agency that never grow up.

How the agency scores itself: 7

How the agency rates itself: We made some of our freshest work for some of our oldest clients. Shakespeare penned an Ikea beds spot for our Campaign of the Year. Rufus, Wimbledon’s chief pigeon-scarer, netted 481 million impressions for Stella Artois. The United Nations hired us to talk about shit. Jesus asked us to promote his brand. And, at Christmas, Boots reminded us just how special mothers are.

Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Independent
Nielsen billings 2014 £157m
Nielsen billings 2013 £166m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 60
Accounts won 7 (biggest: Hovis)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Young’s)
Number of staff 194 (-10%)
Key personnel Robert Saville partner
Mark Waites partner
Sara Tate managing director
Chris Gallery head of strategy
Katie Mackay head of strategy

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question

Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.


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