International Agency of the Year Runner-up: Mother, London
LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Still setting the benchmark for U.K. advertising, Mother London in 2010 more than delivered on its mission to create "famous and populist ideas that embed brands in culture."
Mother, the U.K.'s largest independent agency, estimates that revenue grew by 21% in 2010. It was one of only six shops among the U.K.'s top 20 agencies to grow billings, reaching $233 million, according to Nielsen figures. Headcount rose to 160, up from 123 in 2008.
In new business, Mother London picked up Ikea U.K. ($12.5 million), the global account for Telefonica's Movistar mobile phone brand ($15.5 million) and other accounts including Beck's beer, Tanqueray gin, Mitchum deodorant and ASOS. It also won more work from existing clients Stella Artois and Boots, and maintained its impressive client retention record, working with Coca-Cola and Unilever since 1997 and Diageo since 2000.
For Ikea -- considered by most U.K. shops a notoriously difficult account -- Mother created the adorable "Happy Inside" campaign, releasing 100 cats into an Ikea store overnight and filming the felines as they instinctively found the most comfortable places to snuggle up. Within a month, the film had been watched 4.1 million times on YouTube and been the subject of 10,000 tweets.
For Boots, which had become a tired drugstore chain, the "Here Come the Girls" work has won back the British public's love for the brand. Set to a zippy song, videos, which continue to dominate U.K. TV and cinema, capture a sense of fun among women while showcasing Boots products. Mother says return-on-investment in advertising has almost tripled for the retailer.
In 2011, Mother plans to create more long-form content for clients, following the success of the 2008 feature film "Somers Town" created by Mother and financed by Eurostar.
The agency also promotes a "family" atmosphere: All five founding partners are still active in the business; meals are free (from the agency's own on-site kitchen); the agency has invested in new recyclable packaging solution GreenBottle; and employees can transfer to other offices in Buenos Aires and New York. During the World Cup, Mother built a community center in host country South Africa and dispatched its own soccer team to play out there.