the showcase 2023

Positive Dissatisfaction: MullenLowe's 2023

A new CEO and a global rebrand for MullenLowe has infused the agency with a challenger mindset

By creative salon

MullenLowe's CEO, Claire Hollands, encapsulates the essence of 2023 in two words—Positive Dissatisfaction. The gloves are definitely off with this new mantra - MullenLowe’s latest rebrand and a call to do things differently, innovate and get people talking. And it kicked off with the promotion of Hollands to CEO from managing director earlier this year. Under her leadership the agency witnessed a raft of new wins this year - including Manpower, Freeman’s, Department of Health and Social Care and Invesco. Along came some surprising pieces of creative thinking (read below) and a Cannes Lions for its Persil’s ‘Wash Away the Taboo’s’ campaign - spearheaded by Hollands' creative partner Nicky Bullard - a rare beast amongst creatives in the industry, who brings in a vast experience of true agency leadership.

Under Hollands and Bullard, MullenLowe successfully amalgamated various agency brands (including MullenLowe Profero and MullenLowe Salt) into a seamless and unified entity, revitalising capabilities. Reflecting on the challenges and opportunities ahead of her, Hollands looks forward to a groundbreaking 2024 marked by innovative work for her clients.

Claire Hollands, CEO of Mullen Lowe on the agency's 2023

What three words would you use to describe 2023?

I’m going for two words. Positive Dissatisfaction. It’s our new Agency positioning. It’s changing who we are and what we do in a very exciting way.

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

So much great stuff has happened this year I’m going to do my top 3.

  • Launched new branding and our positioning ‘Positive Dissatisfaction’.

  • Won a Lion (and lots more awards) for our Persil’s ‘Wash Away the Taboo’s’ campaign.

  • It’s been a BIG pitch year for us. This year we’ve won Manpower, Experis, Freeman’s, DHSC and OHID & Invesco.

What one thing are you proudest of this year?

Becoming one MullenLowe. We have integrated three Agencies into one. Launched new branding, a new positioning, brought in new talent and promoted our best, established new capabilities, and reenergised existing ones. We are ending the year a very different Agency to how we started the year.

And what’s been your biggest challenge?

With so much change the challenge is driving reappraisal of who we are and what we’re capable of.

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

I am looking forward to hitting the ground running and shifting the dial on our work. We have some exciting work in the pipeline for next year. Watch this space.

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

I am positively dissatisfied AI is talked about all the time but not rooted in enough tangible change.

Which industry leader have you admired most in 2024?

Zaid Al Qassab (CMO of Channel 4). Whilst I’m not an awards junky winning ‘Brand of the Year’ at Marketing Society and ‘Best Campaign of the Year’ and ‘Consistent Creative Excellence’ at the Campaign Big awards sums it up. For all the in-house sceptics Zaid and his team have set a new bar. I love that.

Creative Salon on MullenLowe's 2022:

In 2023, MullenLowe secured key wins, including online retailer Freemans, Manpower Group, and the much-coveted contract with the Department of Health and Social Care. Despite losing the Dulux-owner AkzoNobel business to Ogilvy, the agency maintains resilience and new business momentum.

In terms of leadership changes, Claire Hollands ascended to the role of CEO, succeeding Jeremy Hine, who continues to contribute within IPG as SVP, network operations director. Diana Lopes, formerly of Havas London, joined MullenLowe as a strategy partner, bringing a wealth of experience from her leadership role at Havas. The agency also witnessed key promotions, with Jessi Tabalba, Roman Kermani, and Jack Faber stepping into elevated roles, reflecting the agency's commitment to nurturing internal talent.

Adding financial acumen to the team, Rachel Fullerton assumed the role of CFO, transitioning from her previous position as finance director, advertising at Ogilvy.

MullenLowe's campaign highlights include reinvigorating online retailer Freemans and an early Christmas campaign. The agency collaborated with New Balance on "Rewards Come To Those Who Run," promoting the benefits of running while also challenging stereotypes with Bupa and its care home offerings.

The agency's work with Knorr included the much-talled about the "Dare to Try" campaign, encouraging positive food choices and daring Gen Z to think differently about food.

Under Hollands and Bullard and the current CSO Ayesha Walawalkar, the agency is keen to make strides in the right direction - especially when it comes to conversations around inclusion and intersectionality - something that is also reflected in its work for its clients. The latest campaign for Sloggi's new Body ADAPT Twist range is a wonderful celebration of inclusivity.

Notably, MullenLowe celebrated the NHS on its 75th birthday, supporting NHS Blood and Transplant’s organ donor registration drive as well as taking a stand against ageism with the "This Is What Over 50 Looks Like" exhibition, aiming to redefine the representation of older individuals in marketing.

Creative Salon Says: MullenLowe has demonstrated resilience and success through key account wins. If there's one word that describes the new CEO Claire Hollands best it is - capable. For someone in her first ever gig as a CEO, Hollands is already making a name for herself as a competent and effective leader - both within the agency and outside. And teaming up with Bullard who has oodles of infectious energy that the industry can never get enough of - we are expecting some masterful strokes in the new year. And let's not forget the agency chairman Tom Knox - the always thoughtful adman but with the quiet determination that has steered the industry into doing the right thing. And all thoroughly decent folks that clients continue to buy into.

There might still be more surprises in store, with the agency gearing towards a future marked by growth for the business and its clients and diverse creative thinking that will put 'positive dissatisfaction' into action.


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