MAA Agency of the Year: the final contender is Mother

London veteran is the master of re-invention

Mother produced arguably the campaign on the year for Uber, covering all the once contentious ride-sharing app’s multifarious activities.

Top of the bill was Robert De Niro for Uber One, with Asa Butterfield. For once the prickly star appears to be enjoying himself.

Mother loves a big film. But there were also some charming vignettes for Uber Trains.

And pitch-perfect 30-seconds for Uber Reserve.

Plus outstanding Out of Home.

Any agency at any time (the greats – CDP, BMP back in the day, adam&eveDDB latterly) would have been proud of this lot.

But the craft isn’t the only good thing. Uber for years was the tech start-up that absolutely nobody loved: drivers and regulators especially. Even its customers had reservations. It was nearly banned in London.

Mother presents it as a valued and, yes, liked piece of everyday life. That’s real business transformation for you.

Mother has been proudly independent since 1996 but that hasn’t prevented it expanding the empire, with its own money. It now has a viable global network, with some recent big wins like Dow Jones in the US and market leader opticians chain Fielmann for its new Berlin outpost (below.) Media at Mother, a successful US invention, may find its way to the UK in due course.

Mother also launched ‘Pitch It Forward’ which does away with the full creative pitch and instead donates first year profits from new clients to fund next generation creatives. M&S Clothing and Jagermeister succumbed to the lure.

Large numbers of esteemed UK creatives have earned their spurs at Mother but it must have come as a shock to the system when ECDs and partners Ana and Hermeti Balarin moved to Wieden+ Kennedy Portland in 2021 (they have since returned to W+K London, which should make for some interesting competition between the two traditional Shoreditch rivals.)

They were replaced by Felix Richter, CCO of Droga5 New York, a name certainly but a left field choice too as even high level creatives don’t always travel. Under Richter though Mother’s work has been consistently strong across the board with other highlights for Greenpeace, KFC (below), Reese’s (now the leading chocolate brand on TikTok, if that’s your thing) and IKEA (in Oxford Street also below.)

If there was a fly in the ointment it was new business. M&S Clothing, Jagermeister and Reese’s came in but Mother missed out at the last gasp on British Gas in 2022, which stayed with long-term incumbent The&Partnership, and Sainsbury’s, which went to another AoY contender New Commercial Arts this year. Mother also failed to advance in the Vodafone pitch.

Is Mother’s rich mixture still too rich for some? Maybe but it has a select list of very big clients who would argue otherwise.

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