Trolling the internets, we recently stumbled upon a site for what appears to be a new Los Angeles outpost of global creative shop Mother. Stateside expansion would be a huge—but not totally surprising move, given the agency's success worldwide, and in the U.S.—we recently named the New York office our agency of the year.
But the Mother L.A. site raises some suspicious flags—namely, its unabashed use of mediocre stock photography, absence of any contact/location info, and its cheeky agency manifesto:
When it comes to creative ideas, we believe that all work can get along, but only the best work can get ahead. An agency reared in the hothouse of Los Angeles must honestly measure itself in but a single category: success. And if the proper results have been achieved, it must ask the clients: have we done everything you expected of us? The best work can't make us look good, unless it makes you look good.
We checked in with the New York office to get the details, and received a release stating that indeed, the agency had opened an L.A. office to service flagship client Devo. The '80s art band of the flower pot hats will be releasing its first album in 20 years this spring, and tapping the Mother talents to hold their hands along the way.
"The Devo assignment was a somewhat brutal pitch against another well-established West Coast agency," explains Mother N.Y. co-founder/ECD Paul Malmstrom."This was an important win for us, enabling another foothold for the Mother brand."
"We thought making a campaign for a cutting edge band like Devo called for cutting edge measures," adds Mother N.Y. co-founder/ECD Linus Karlsson. "We opened the Los Angeles office just for this project, and for the chance to collaborate closely with—and make something special for—Devo."
Such a move seems to put Devo on a big blue chip pedestal. However, "The office is very small and experimental in nature, a collaborative experiment," Karlsson says. "We're testing a new model, a soup-to-nuts virtual office environment, where people share ideas and unite digitally. Los Angeles seemed to be the perfect location to do this; not only is it hard city to commute in, and where both the band and Warner Bros are located, it is also a town where it's sometimes hard to tell what's real and what's fake, what's fact and what's fiction. And this is part of the project."
Virtual or not, Mother has also announced the appointment of a new L.A. creative director to lead that show, former choreographer Jann Eulm. A quick Google search of the unfamiliar industry name turns up nothing. Malmstrom says Eulm is a real person, though this does not answer the question of his identity. "It seemed appropriate in this case for our Mother L.A. team to assume stage names. Jann is an extremely interesting, elusive personality, channeling his creativity from hundreds of unexpected angles, which is perfect for working with multi-faceted artists like Devo. His somewhat unusual background as a choreographer made him the perfect candidate to plot this project. Jann likes to refer to campaigns as missions' rather than campaigns as to underline their never-ending quality. The Devo campaign officially ends in May when the album is out, but the feeling here is than Jann will continue his mission well beyond that."
The L.A./Devo announcement also quotes Devo CEO Greg Scholl, who has recently appeared on culture blogs and a new Devo fan site ClubDevo.com. His video "communiques" announce the band's comeback in very un-Devo-like corporate speak, discussing the band's upcoming concert appearances at the Olympics Awards Ceremony on NBC on February 22 and in Coachella this spring, as well as the focus-grouping of the songs on the forthcoming album.
Are Mother and Devo are up to some hijinks? The short answer has to be yes. The long answer will be revealed along with this unusual campaign. "Working with Devo allows us to explore what's possible in the realm of reality and fiction, blur the wall between advertising and entertainment," says Malmstrom. "Importantly, the project has ambition, not only to reach Devo's core fanbase, but to build for the band a new audience, one that may not remember the early days of de-evolution, but one that recognizes this idea to be true and real, and one that is open to ideas spreading by a band with a distinct point of view."