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The Showcase 2022

This is how to make your children proud: Mother's 2022

From a new set of principles, to a change in the creative guard and a portfolio of great work, Mother had a cracking year

By Creative Salon

Even by its own standards, 2022 was a landmark year for Mother. And one that sets the iconic business on even stronger foundations for the future.

From new creative leadership to the launch of a whole new operating system based on a set of future-facing values and ethics, and the opening of a new office in Europe, this was a seismic year for the agency.

Here the agency's partner Katie Mackay-Sinclair gives her take on Mother's 2022 and, below, Creative Salon takes the agency's temperature.

Katie Mackay-Sinclair, a partner at Mother, on Mother's 2022

What three words would you use to describe 2022?




Talk us through some of your agency’s highlights this year?

2022 has been a defining year for Mother. One of transition and transformation in all parts of our business from welcoming Felix as our CCO and Creative Partner, to launching - after almost three years of work - our global mission to ‘Make our Children Proud.’ Change also came in how we run our business with the appointment of Katie Elliott as our Managing Director, and with the opening of Mother Berlin.

Some things didn’t change though; our commitment to our people, our work and our values. With Make our Children Proud as both a belief and an operating system across our business, we stretched ourselves and doubled down on our difference.

We created Kindred Council, bringing together our senior people with diverse lived experiences to guide us and our work.

Building on our rich legacy of Mother Projects, we launched Mother Goods - an ‘ideas emporium’ that funds and sells ‘ideas that do good’.

We took aim at the (ridiculously wasteful) pitch process and offered an alternative route for clients to get the right agency via Pitch It Forward.

We redirected our homemade free lunches on Monday and Friday (when the office is emptier) to local charities - over 400, every week.

To offer some relief from the cost of living crisis, we gave every full-time employee a £1000 cost of living bonus, to help with rising bills.

We also did what we could to put creativity to good use for Ukraine. Working with the BBC to create a special Hey Duggee episode featuring some well-known Ukrainian animated characters from ‘Mavka, The Forest Song’ - ‘The Welcome Badge’ is a two-way language lesson designed to help everyone feel welcome.

The Defiant Dancer for United Ukrainian Ballet - an installation featuring a real ballet dancer entombed in sandbags to symbolise the preservation and protection of Ukrainian - helped to sell out the limited run of ‘Giselle’ at the London Coliseum (despite the Queen dying on opening night).

Our ‘I came by train’ campaign to switch one journey to rail, has around 500 people pledging to do just that every day.

We’ve helped KFC to diversify their business into home delivery, giving KFC Delivery record sales month on month.

Together with Uber Eats, we’ve moved from 3rd to 2nd in brand preference - with no increase in media spend.

‘Here for it’ for H&M has enabled an ongoing conversation with young women and H&M about their wardrobe - with engagement levels hitting over 10%.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

Hands down, the continued commitment and can do of our people. Derring-do and indefatigable no matter what we faced or asked of them. I’ve never been more excited about what we’re building - and after almost 15 years at Mother, that’s saying something.

Despite the permacrisis impacting every facet of our personal and professional lives, we achieved a pitch conversion rate of 90% and welcomed 23 new clients. We grew our team numbers by almost 5% (importantly, with no redundancies) and grew our overall income YoY.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

The unknown, the delayed and the deferred. Majority project-based working makes forecasting day-to-day (let alone quarter-to-quarter) and ongoing challenge. We’ve never known so many projects be delayed or deferred due to the impact of macroeconomic factors on our clients’ businesses and ability to plan (or not) in advance. Even with a pitch success rate touching 90%, and an incredible influx of new opportunities, our overall income has only slightly grown - making 2022 very much feel like the year of running to stand still.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

The very thing that was the biggest challenge of 2022; project-based working. For us and our people, the opportunity to reimagine how we work together and with our clients, and the phenomenal breadth of new opportunities are cause for excitement, not fear. 2022 has seen us build the foundations to really embrace the seismic shifts that are our new reality. We’re going to be launching some very exciting campaigns that I’m not allowed to talk about yet, but that have energised and excited us as we close out the year.

And personally, I’m also excited about dusting off my German skills.

And what one change would you most like to see in our industry next year?

Chris, Felix and I have talked a lot about a new era or epoch for our industry. I really believe we’re entering the post-purpose period; it’s not enough to do brilliant work for purpose and good enough work for delivering a commercial return. I can’t wait to see the creativity that flourishes from the need economic crisis creates - not the end of purpose, but the end of the false dichotomy of purpose and product.

Creative Salon on Mother's 2022

After 25 years of running its business on a set of values designed to 'make our mothers proud', Mother had a major repositioning in 2022 that faces into the future and embraces principals designed to 'make our children proud'.

These new principles are enshrined in a hugely impressive, far-reaching and accountable operating system that shapes how the agency will continue to thrive whilst looking after its people, its clients and the wider world, operating responsibly, with integrity and compassion. It's a model that should inspire the whole industry and defines - again - Mother as one of the most progressive, interesting and rewarding agencies in the world.

Impressively, the planning and implementation of MOCP was accomplished without taking the collective foot off the creative accelerator. Work for Ikea, Samsung, Elvie, Stella Artois, Uber Eats, Essity, H&M and many more maintained the agency's high creative bar.

Of course, world-beating creativity comes from world-class creative leadership and Mother founder Robert Saville has the keenest eye for the best talent around. So the arrival of in the Spring of Felix Richter from Droga5 New York to be the agency's first chief creative officer was the subject of keen interest in the industry. Mother didn't miss a creative beat in the transition and by the end of the year Richter had comfortably established himself as the right person for this most coveted of jobs.

Other hires and promotions across the year included head of fame Tom Wong, who was promoted to head of culture and communications; Katie Elliott, who was promoted from head of new business to managing director; and ECD roles for Tom Bender, who joined from Weiden & Kennedy, and Nick Hallbery.

The agency's year ended on another high with the announcement that it is opening its first European office outside the UK. Mother Berlin will be headed by Droga5 New York's Alexander Nowak as chief creative officer and creative partner. The launch marks Mother's sixth office around the globe and is yet another signal - just in case you hadn't noticed - of Mother's ambitions.

Creative Salon Says: Mother's Make Our Children Proud initiative is so thoroughly impressive in its scope, its commitment and its accountability that it is surely the foundation on which many years of continued excellence will be built. This is a superb blueprint for running a successful, exciting and responsible business in the creative industries.

And if that was all Mother had achieved in 2022 then we'd count it a terrific year. But keeping creative standards so high, successfully transitioning creative leadership and expanding onto the Continent all added to the momentum. This was a year for the Mother crew to be very proud of.


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