TOP PERFORMERS OF 2002: Agency of the Year - Mother

Mother's consistent new-business performance wins it the award for the second year running, but it was pushed all the way by Clemmow Hornby Inge and DLKW.

It's rare for an agency to win the accolade of Agency of the Year for two years running, but the performance the Clerkenwell hotshop put in again last year, sustaining its success in a recession, deserves recognition.

Mother's five partners - Robert Saville, Stef Calcraft, Mark Waites, Andy Medd and Matt Clark - steered the agency on an impressive new-business course, pulling in billings of £81 million. The agency pitched seven times and won six, failing only to convert the COI Communications Sex Education pitch.

But perhaps the brightest new-business prize was Orange. Undoubtedly one of the most fiercely contested pitches of the year, the £43 million review saw Mother beat Bartle Bogle Hegarty, WCRS and M&C Saatchi.

Mother also showed, once again, that a small creative agency can win multinational business by beating Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam to an international Siemens brief to launch a youth-focused mobile phone.

Back on the domestic front, Mother triumphed against Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, Fallon and St Luke's to win the much-coveted COI Drugs Awareness pitch. And it fought off BBH, Saatchi & Saatchi and Lowe in June in a strategic pitch to consolidate more Interbrew business by picking up Castlemaine XXXX. Other wins included I Can't Believe It's Not Butter against HHCL & Partners, UK Gold against BMP DDB, and Red Letter Days.

And it rounded off the year by winning Selfridges and Fray Bentos.

As well as heading the UK new-business performance league, Mother cleaned up at awards shows. It won gold at Creative Circle for Dr Pepper, and silvers for Super Noodles' "face off", Cup A Soup, ITV Digital, Q magazine and Schweppes. "Face off" also got a gold at the BTAA, while the agency added another gold at the One Show, honours at the Aerials for The Observer, and half of the Best of the Best awards.

And if critics still question the work's effectiveness, consider the facts: according to Hall & Partners data, Egg's Brilliant Industries campaign has kept Egg awareness at more than 86 per cent for the longest sustained period ever. Its year-on-year brand consideration is at an all-time high and sales were up at least 30 per cent each quarter.

Additionally, Millward Brown data shows Mother's Dr Pepper campaign has an awareness index more than three times the study average - the highest ever recorded by Coca-Cola Great Britain. And Millward Brown found Mother's "Sch ... you know who?" campaign for Schweppes, created by the creative team Caroline Pay and Kim Gehrig and featuring celebrity lookalikes, helped revitalise the brand and encourage positive shifts in the key target audience.

Its Pimm's campaign featuring Harry and his portable Pimm's kit had a saliency and awareness that outstripped its competitors on a tiny comparative spend.

So, still immune to the hungry advances of the big multinationals, the Clerkenwell hotshop continues to flourish, attracting the best talent from around the world. And its irreverent self-promotional items, such as the Mother Reward Card scheme, show that it does a canny job of building its own brand too. It has also started directing music videos, and was entrusted with the D&AD annual this year.

With an interest in opening in New York, Mother is dipping its toes outside its domestic playground. Sceptics will watch to see how it handles the volume of the Orange account. And it will have its detractors banging the "one-trick pony" drum in reference to its distinctive creative style. But in 2002, Mother's consistent performance was indisputable and it remains the agency all others look to with interest.

In the Agency of the Year stakes, Mother was given a good run for its money by Clemmow Hornby Inge. A fledgling shop in January, it soon flexed its considerable muscle and threw itself audaciously on to the London stage by winning the £5 million Premier Foods and the £2 million Butchers Petfood business before netting the prestigious Tango account.

Quickly establishing itself as a formidable competitor on pitchlists, it set about picking up more new business with the kind of gung-ho attitude you'd expect from the founders. CHI picked up the £6 million Heineken account from Lowe and the hotly contested Safeway business, persuading the client to return to above-the-line advertising after a five-year absence.

The end of the year saw CHI join the Royal Bank of Scotland's roster.

The agency's claimed income rose by about £3 million over the year. On top of that, CHI quadrupled in size, bringing in quality hirings to help propel it forward in what is bound to be another good year in 2003. But, despite some entertaining creative work for Butchers and Tango, the industry is waiting to see if the agency's creative reel comes of age.

Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners also proved a formidable player with its systematic theft of the Vauxhall business from Lowe, and its Burger King win. It netted a total of £72 million in new business in 2002. And, despite its fierce detractors, its Halifax campaign featuring the singing Howard proved its worth winning a gold at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Recent winners: Mother (2001); Lowe Lintas (2000); M&C Saatchi (1999); BMP DDB (1998); St Luke's (1997); Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (1996 and 1995).

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