Three years ago, Wieden+Kennedy made a statement about independence and placed a sizable bet, backing its group creative director Craig Allen and two others in a new agency venture, Callen. The Austin shop continues to carve out its own space, yet with W+K’s support, it signals that smaller, more nimble extensions of existing agency brands can add more creative oxygen to the business.
Then-president Dave Luhr said of Callen: “It just feels like our industry needs to be revitalized a bit. We think it will be good for talent and indirectly good for us, because advertising could use more creativity.”
Last week, London-based indie Mother made a similar move, launching a new indie of its own. The agency, called Other, has a similar bent, with four hand-picked agency leaders coming together to infuse a sense of creativity and, critically, independence.
“What kept me and my partners going when we started Mother 24 years ago was a simple philosophy about our culture, and a belief that great creativity lives best in an independent environment,” said Robert Saville, Mother co-founder. “Other has a great team with shared values who all bring their own unique way of doing things. Because right now brands, businesses and organizations need great independent creative minds applied to the challenges that face us.”
The new agency, based in London, brings together four established agency leaders: Paulo Salomao, formerly W+K and Mother’s past managing director, as business lead; Sarah Oberman as strategy lead, who was last at Grey London as strategy director; Mother New York and London veteran Kyle Harman-Turner as creative lead; and Metz Bryan-Fasano, last at VMLY&R London, as lead maker.
Other launches with several clients, including DTC flower startup Bloom & Wild, Grundig home appliances and The Out, Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicle rental service.
According to Salomao, despite unease in the marketplace, the timing of starting a new venture makes sense.
“There’s a hell of a lot going on that’s changing our industry and consumer behavior. And we’re all trying to find the answers,” he said. “This can be very scary, or you can lean into it. When things are unpredictable and chaotic, brands need more help navigating that with more creativity and smart thinking.”
According to Oberman, the name of the agency, though a riff on the Mother name, also has a double meaning.
“It’s all about seeking other perspectives and observations,” she said. “But we’re also in a time where culture is listening to its own bubbles, and it’s important to let other people have a voice and let others in, and it felt like there was a need for an agency to do that.”
Harmon-Turner noted that agility, another aspect brands look for in agencies, is a hallmark of Other. Additionally, she said that putting data at the forefront, but with real-world implications, is a better way of working and getting outside the usual.
“[The industry] gets trapped too much in the world of case studies, and not reaching real people,” she said.
Yet in the end, success for Other will come from a culture of curiosity, optimism and, crucially, independence.
“The hard work starts now,” said Harman-Turner. “And it’s already attracted clients with a similar mindset and mentality.”