Creativity 50 2010: Linus Karlsson and Paul Malmstrom

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Creativity's Agency of the Year, Mother, New York, is one of the most dynamic agencies in the business, pushing the boundaries of what an agency does by producing rock concerts and creating a gourmet hot-dog restaurant—all without skipping a beat when it comes to novel campaigns for mega-marketers. In the past year, it's launched a hometown-inspired brand campaign for Dutch beer-maker Stella Artois; created billboards for Target that were repurposed into handbags by Anna Sui; and designed custom laptops for Dell and launched a website with 574 different clips to promote a limited-edition line of sneakers for New Balance.

Said Mr. Karlsson, of the Big Apple outpost of Mother he launched in 2003 with Mr. Malmstrom: "Mother feels magical right now. However, our structure is not for everyone.

"It's demanding, changing and potentially nerve-wracking. On the flip side, it's exhilarating and hopefully amazing to be part of," he said. "Anything can happen at any given moment. Ugly becomes nice. Screwed up becomes beautiful. And lovely becomes noisy. The best part of building a culture is not knowing what the next day will bring. We love it this way. We can be deep, populist, naïve, cool and stupid at the same time. It's hard to build a creative culture that is truly open-minded and kind at the same time."

The growing agency brought in a big hire recently with Nicke Bergstrom, one of the co-founders and creative director of the much-decorated Swedish digital agency Farfar.

Malmstrom & Karlsson, who celebrate their 20th anniversary as a team this year, on what qualities they look for in new talent: "The most important thing for us is hiring people with big hearts who want to take care and protect the delicate relationship between ego and group power. If you can manage that, things are gonna feel pretty damn good."

See the rest of the 2010 Creativity 50 here.

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