Spotlight on MullenLowe Group UK

In September we shone the Spotlight on MullenLowe Group UK to hear all about what they've been up to.

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MullenLowe Group is a creatively driven integrated marketing communications agency with a strong entrepreneurial heritage and challenger mentality. Our integrated operating model specialises in through-the-line advertising, brand strategy, customer experience, media planning & buying and brand purpose & sustainability consulting. We are passionate about successfully growing both the brands we work with and our people.

Describe MullenLowe Group UK in three words

Integrated, creative, human

What makes you unique?

People always ask us why our logo is an octopus.

An octopus has eight tentacles (or rather arms), three hearts and the highest brain to body mass ratio of all invertebrates.

It represents us.

We are one connected team of specialists, all under one roof (and one P&L) enabling us to look at client challenges from every angle, regardless of channel. We are flexible, agile, sticky, single-minded. Eight tentacles (I mean arms), all striving to deliver an unfair share of attention for our clients. It’s like us, one body with all the expertise you need in today’s complex marketing world.

Tell us something we don’t know about MullenLowe Group UK? 

We can tell you three!

Next year, we are launching ‘The MullenLowe Down’ podcast. This is a place to hear from all the movers and shakers of the agency, from our nine apprentices to the most senior of creatives – no one is off-limits. We are so excited about the launch and adding our voice to a completely new platform for us. 

As part of our continued inclusion journey, we have also recently launched a second employee resource group alongside our Pride committee. The Parents @ MLG group provides support and advice for our colleagues with children (sometimes about financial adjustments and sometimes about toy sharing apps). These groups, in their own way, offer an internal support network and an opportunity to meet new people and share experiences across the agency.

Last but not least, to ensure that everyone within MullenLowe Group UK feels that they are a genuine stakeholder in the company whose ideas, initiatives, issues and concerns are heard and listened to by the leadership team, we have created a ‘Sounding Board’. This team of employees represents a cross-section of the full agency group and brings regular input and temperature checks to the attention of management.

What work are you most proud of?

For almost 4 years, we have been supporting the NHS in their recruitment campaigns to bring more people into nursing. To lend a hand to such a vital cause is something we are continually humbled by. Our first ‘We Are The NHS’ campaign in 2018 is a real tear-jerker (we’ve done two more large scale recruitment campaigns for them since then, and the fourth is on its way!). It is an account that reels in both creative and effective awards and whilst the former is always nice to have, it’s the latter that we really care about. It shows that we are succeeding in making a difference and proving that we are making work that works.

 

We Are The NHS_2018 Year One 90" from MullenLowe Group UK on Vimeo.

What began with a large-scale awareness campaign educating the nation about COVID-19 and the importance of washing your hands in March 2020, became an ever-evolving, ever-expanding, multi-channel, international campaign and the largest public information campaign since World War 2, and arguably the most important.

Being the Cabinet Office’s agency of record in the fight against COVID-19, we have pulled every lever and turned around campaigns in hours, rather than weeks.

We introduced lockdown to the nation through our ‘Stay Home’ campaign where the number of people leaving their homes dropped to 15% of normal levels in the first week. As restrictions eased, we helped people keep themselves and others safe with the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ campaign which saw 88% recognition and resulted in a 657% increase in hand sanitiser sales. Our objective of saving lives and protecting the NHS continued by driving downloads of the NHS COVID-19 app, which was downloaded onto 56% of the smartphone population, far surpassing any other country. In the ever-changing and unprecedented context, we have continued to inform the public on the importance of following guidelines, targeting the ‘hard to reach’ and combating complacency.

After a brief hiatus, we are very pleased to have just been reappointed to the creative account and to be working with the Cabinet Office team and our excellent agency partners.

It’s going to be another busy year!

 

Our Persil ‘Dirt is Good’ work also deserves a shout out. We developed a strategy that recognises that parents’ first priority is their children’s development - rather than what detergent they use. This distinctive anti-category view that stains aren’t the enemy, but marks of a life fully lived has transcended continents and media for almost three decades. It has so far garnered 10 effectiveness awards and 9 Cannes Lions.

Of course, the positioning has evolved over the years to respond to parents’ changing passions and concerns. In the year that playing outside wasn’t allowed, the team turned around the ’Home is Good’ campaign in 10 days.

 

Persil Home is Good_full length 30"_2 from MullenLowe Group UK on Vimeo.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

From our apprentices to our senior management, the challenge of the year was the year itself. Everything from communication to culture was turned upside down.

Like any agency, our people are our biggest and most important asset. They are our only asset really, so it goes without saying that keeping them happy and healthy was our biggest focus.

Because of this, we focussed on these three things:

1/ Thoughtfulness – Throughout the pandemic, every decision has been made with our people’s wellbeing at the heart. MullenLowe Group has always had a reputation as the ‘nice agency’ – but that hasn’t always been considered a strength, until now. Our People Team sent daily emails and posted out via snail mail hard copies of our ‘Little Book of Mental Health’ to provide tips and tricks and generally help ease the feeling of isolation and bewilderment that was so suddenly thrust upon us all.

Every employee was also given a Headspace membership, free access to weekly pilates, yoga and meditation sessions and regular digital detoxes and inspiration afternoons were organised and put in diaries, all as part of our ‘Reset & recover’ programme which enabled some self-care and some help keeping separate the work and the home thing.

2/ Welcoming - Starting a new job can feel quite daunting. Starting it remotely can clearly be so much worse. Since the beginning of lockdown, we have had 95 new starters, and we recognised that those new team members weren’t necessarily going to find it easy navigating a new organisation virtually. With team socials, fireside chats with senior leadership, regular 1-2-1 check-ins, agency-wide meetings and all the virtual quizzes and music sessions, we hope the culture of our agency has shone through and helped the new starters feel connected and part of our family from the outset.

3/ Togetherness - The People team have been amazing in keeping the MullenLowe spirit alive. Whether it’s hosting virtual quizzes (I think we’re all over that phase now thank goodness…), happy hours, talent shows, bake-offs, escape rooms… Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and got involved.

Our staff churn rate is 6% which against an industry average of 18% I think we’re proving we’re doing something right…

If you could give clients one piece of advice what would it be?

Trust your agency.

We know this doesn’t always happen immediately or without effort from both sides. But this should be what all of us strive for. It should be the North Star of the partnership.

Trust is something that you get from understanding each other, working alongside each other, believing in and supporting each other.

When both sides really trust each other, that is the point when we make great work that everyone is proud of – like the examples we gave above.

How are you futureproofing?

Earlier this year, we launched ‘The Ship’, an apprenticeship scheme across all departments of our agency, from account management to production. Our nine apprentices are not only reverse-mentoring senior colleagues but also bringing young and diverse thinking and insight into our agency.

In addition to our creative internship, Suckers, MullenLowe Group continues to strive to allow anybody the opportunity to get their foot in the door of advertising.

Our interns and apprentices are individual forces to be reckoned with, steering the MullenLowe ship. Schemes like these are setting us up to be continually tapped into our clients’ audiences, stay relevant and ensure that we are always delivering an unfair share of attention.

Marketing predictions for the next year?

The climate crisis should be more and more of a priority for brands and their agencies.

This isn’t new, but as consumers increasingly ask why enterprises exist and who it serves, purpose is are taking centre stage. Brands that are uniquely positioned to navigate this will flourish, and brands that need to overhaul their strategy are running out of time.

With MullenLowe salt, our strategic communications tentacle, fully embedded in our agency, we are perfectly positioned to take on this challenge and drive positive change to make the world a better place for everyone.

We are also honoured to be an active member of Ad Net Zero and founding member of the Ad Green initiative, both industry-wide schemes to combat the environmental impacts of our industry, to continue to educate our teams and share solutions in the ambition of achieving genuine net zero emissions. 

Best kept secret for Friday drinks (either how you all virtually wind down the week or if you're already all back in the office)?

Ah, now that would be telling… Although head down to The Fox on a Friday and see for yourself!

See more from MullenLowe Group UK here on our website.

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