Meet The MD
What It's Like To Be MD Of MullenLowe: "No day is typical"
Meet Claire Hollands, a leader focused on creativity, growth, and change management
07 March 2023
Claire Hollands has been the managing director of the brand strategy and advertising arm of MullenLowe Group for just over a year. In a role created specifically for her, Hollands focuses on client relationships and agency growth.
She previously worked at AMV BBDO, in roles including chief client officer, MD and head of account management, where she led some of its biggest global and domestic clients including BT, Bacardi, and Facebook. She focused on social and digital, but delivered award-winning, customer-centric work across all channels.
With her kids as her inspiration and a firm belief in ‘good things happen to good people’, we ask Hollands what it’s like to be the MD of MullenLowe.
What is more important - creativity or growth?
Creativity. It is our differentiator. It’s the key to unlock growth. Without it we become vanilla, which is dangerous in this industry.
Which is your favorite brand to have worked with and why?
We just did our first campaign for New Balance. The campaign ‘Rewards Come To Those Who Run’ is anti-fashion trainers. Showcasing the physical and mental benefits of running, no matter your ability. Launching with Hypebeast, across Europe, runners could take part in a 30 day/30km Strava challenge unlocking New Balance prizes and a place in the NY Marathon. It’s a brilliant example of where a proactive idea can get big! The work has shifted the dial on our creative reel and the New Balance running community.
What is the most essential quality to have as an agency leader?
Empathy. This is a people business. And our talent is our only true asset so there is nothing more important than doing the right thing by your people and showing empathy in the good times and the bad times.
Describe your typical day at work.
What I love most about my job is that no day is typical. In one day, I can go from a pitch meeting to a creative review, to an agency steering group, to a client drinks. At the end of the day, I always ask myself ‘did we make progress today?’ If the answer is yes, that’s the sign of a good day.
What trends are you seeing in the industry when it comes to pitching? Do you love the process of pitching?
I love pitching. It’s the lifeblood of any agency as it drives creativity and growth. Without them I think any agency gets stale. We had a great pitch year last year, getting to number one in the New Business League, but it’s hard graft. Pitches have always been a huge time investment. We’re finding the average revenue is often sub-£500k making it increasingly hard to make money in the first year of winning.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to get into the industry?
When I started out, I didn’t know anyone in the industry. I knocked on agency doors, emailed agency MDs and applied to every work experience scheme and job out there. I slept on a sofas to get my first gig. From there, doors opened. I believe good things happen to good people. So, I would say don’t give up, be tenacious and never be afraid to ask for help.
What are some of the biggest challenges in our industry that need to be changed?
Ageism is one of the last unchallenged prejudices and we are on a mission to tackle it. 47 per cent of adults in the UK are in their 50s, controlling over £6 trillion spend. But they’re routinely overlooked by our industry, featuring in just 12 per cent of UK ads which makes no commercial sense. Our Invisible Powerhouse Initiative, uses attitude and not age to shine a light on the richness and complexity of the millions of people who are too often lumped together. Our ambition is to represent this economic powerhouse fairly and to capture exactly what over 50 looks like in a way that will resonate on a deeper emotional level. Which, in turn, will pay dividends for brands and benefit society too.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My kids. They don’t care about the big stuff. They care about what’s happening right here and now. They are inquisitive, fun-loving, and see things with fresh eyes. On a recent trip to New York, I found myself taking pictures of sidewalks, yellow taxis, school buses, and urban playgrounds as I wanted to show my kids what living in New York would be like. I explored the city with a completely different view, and I love them for that.