School Reports 2016: Mother

In 2014, Mother won Campaign's Campaign of the Year with a triumph of craft (Ikea "beds"). In 2015, it won the same award with a triumph of populism.

"Epic strut" for was advertising’s runaway success in the UK in 2015. It was made more impressive by the January release – meaning it soared without the John Lewis halo effect that benefits all ads around Christmas.

For Mother, the work crystallised its return to form as one of the best shops in town when it comes to making a brand famous.

Yet Mother’s ability to persuade potential clients to get on board is not as sharp as its creative work. The agency lost out in several high-profile pitches, including, Royal Mail, E.ON and Ribena.

That said, there were wins to be proud of, including and the Baileys global account. But the most intriguing was the brief to create a brand identity for and launch the online bank Atom.

Murmurings that Walgreens Boots Alliance was talking to WPP about its global corporate advertising were unwelcome. There’s no suggestion that Mother’s Boots business is up for grabs but the fact that the agency has rehired Mark Harrison as the global business lead on the account suggests it isn’t taking any chances.

In a similar vein, Robert Saville brought in Michael Wall as the global chief executive to ensure the business did not lose focus. Wall is a serious hire with a serious brief – to develop Mother across the world. He has also been made a partner – anyone with knowledge of how tightly Saville guards his agency’s equity will appreciate the significance of the gesture.

How the agency rates itself: 8

"We had a great year and it felt epic. New leadership team, new business, great new work and more dogs in the office than ever. But don’t just take it from us. Campaign said "Mother looks to be getting back to its world-beating form" and Boy George said our ad was "a pisser". We’ll take that."

Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Independent
Nielsen billings 2015 £146m
Nielsen billings 2014 £156m
Declared income n/s
Total accounts at year end 50
Accounts won 13 (biggest: Baileys)
Accounts lost 0
Number of staff 205 (+6%)
Key personnel Ana Balarin, executive creative director
Hermeti Balarin, executive creative director
Chris Gallery, head of strategy
Katie Mackay, head of strategy
Sara Tate, managing director

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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