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Independent Agency of the Year 2020: Mother London

Rising to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic helped to secure gold for Mother London.

Independent Agency of the Year 2020: Mother London

Gold: Mother London

Mother triumphed in a hotly contested category by demonstrating how it tackled head-on the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

It vowed to put its people before profits through a range of initiatives, such as introducing a four-day week to help employees manage lockdown stress and by pausing all its pitches in August.

It was an approach that paid off. The agency recorded its highest-ever revenues and had one of its best years for new-business wins, picking up 16 accounts, including Doritos, Gousto and Bumble. The agency also made no redundancies and significantly grew its headcount, with 99 new joiners.

Campaigns spanned a range of brands, from Uber to KFC to Greenpeace to Ikea, and often resonated during the pandemic, such as Ikea’s focus on getting a good night’s sleep and KFC temporarily removing its “Finger lickin’ good” slogan.

Mother also put a greater focus on fostering diversity and inclusion. It ran a diversity audit of activities, processes and behaviours, ensured every employee underwent unconscious bias training and created more opportunities for underrepresented groups through its “Homestay” placement scheme.

At the end of 2020, Mother returned the money it received from the government for furloughed staff after ending the year at a profit.

Judges said it had an outstanding year, with “very clear objectives aligned to the agency values, resulting in impressive creativity, record revenues, and team wellbeing and belonging at the forefront”.

Silver: VCCP

VCCP enjoyed a record-breaking 2020 in more ways than one. It won the high-profile Walkers account after a competitive pitch, replacing 22-year incumbent Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, doubled its global client roster and added 65 new clients across the group.

It recognised early on the pressure faced by its employees during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and supported its teams through different circumstances, such as family pressures, home-schooling, illness and isolation.

Campaign highlights included Meerkat Music, a platform for Comparethemarket.com created during the Covid lockdown, which reunited Take That and Robbie Williams for a virtual gig. Judges said the agency had a very strong year “across commercials, creative and innovation while ensuring team and talent support through a robust approach to ‘Covid at home working’”.

Bronze: Pablo

Pablo’s achievements in 2020 included several pitch wins, doubling the size of its creative department and setting up industry initiatives such as the “CMO to CMO network”, which provides support for senior marketing leaders. Notable campaigns over the past 12 months included work for the NHS, Sport Relief, NatWest and ITV. 

The agency also achieved its goal of zero staff layoffs during the crisis, with judges saying the shop had an “impressive approach to talent management and care”.


Finalists 

Amplify

In 2020, Amplify helped deliver the global launch of the hotly-anticipated PlayStation 5, with a campaign that spanned 25 territories and combined experience, out of home, content and digital. The agency won 22 new clients, 16 of which were added after the first lockdown, and it continued to support underrepresented groups entering the creative industries.

Goodstuff Communications

Over 2020, Goodstuff pledged to protect its people, launching a new mental health and wellbeing group called Space. The agency also instigated the “Land of independents" campaign, aimed at promoting the indie sector as the destination of choice for progressive brands. Campaign highlights include work for Ecover, Eve Sleep, Habito and ITV. 

Impero

The agency won a slew of new business in 2020 – its strongest financial year ever, with 15 new clients coming on board, including multinationals such as ABInBev and Estée Lauder. Impero was also able to grow its team significantly off the back of client wins.

Uncommon Creative Studio

Creative highlights in 2020 include the most recognised mental health campaign in the UK with ITV’s “Britain get talking”, creating a fund with Ecover to support sustainable new businesses, and making over 100,000 units of hand sanitiser with BrewDog. The agency also brought the RA Summer Exhibition to tens of millions of people virtually and championed black voices in football with Beats by Dre.

Wonderhood Studios

The agency helped grow the business of existing clients such as Starling Bank, and also had some notable wins, including Branston pickle owner Mizkan and the hotly contested Three account, following a competitive virtual pitch. Over the course of 2020, it created a new brand platform for Branston, a documentary for Waitrose and Three’s Christmas ad. It also grew its team with promotions in every department and adding senior roles, including the agency’s first head of account management. 

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