When your revenue more than doubles in a year, you’ve got to take steps. First, be thankful that it’s your bottom line and not your waistline that’s swelling. And then you go and staff up. That’s exactly what Mistress, the independent agency based here, has just done, bringing in three new talents who add to its bench in terms of creative firepower and digital production savvy.
The agency has hired the duo of Rory Forrest and Ben Beale, who come over from Grey UK in London as a new creative team. The pair arrives with an eclectic portfolio of work that extends beyond advertising to include documentary filmmaking, product design and other endeavors.
Joining them at the agency is Maggie O’Brien, who takes the position of Senior Interactive Producer. Her resume includes stints producing digital and integrated campaigns at such agencies as Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Droga 5 and Anomaly, as well as for the hybrid live action and digital production company Tool of North America.
The company, named one of Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year winners for 2011, has good reason to add to its ranks. They’ve expanded their relationships with Mattel and The Coca-Cola Company and brought in significant amounts of project work from such clients as Google, SENSA, Gardein (the talked-about line of meatless food products) and KCRW, Southern California’s flagship NPR station.
At Grey London, part of the WPP Group, Forrest and Beale team on such brands as Lucozade and Macleans, among others. Graduates of the prestigious Bucks Ad School in London, their work includes print, broadcast, viral video and digital campaigns.
“Rory and Ben are one of the most unconventional and inspiring teams we’ve ever come across,” says Mistress Partner and Creative Director Scott Harris. “They’re as much entrepreneurs and brand builders as they are creatives. Mistress has the perfect structure to put all their talents to use, which is why we’re so excited by their arrival.
“Their joining synchs up perfectly with our creative ambitions and our increasingly diverse resources and talent pool,” adds Partner Christian Jacobsen. “They add to the global perspective we bring to bear here, given that we have partners and staff members who hail from Australia, Latvia, Singapore, Germany and the US.
“What we love about them is that they’re pure creatives,” Harris adds. “Their output is not limited or defined by advertising, but has a larger cultural presence.” For example, noticing the length of time a customer waits for a beer to be poured in the typical UK pub, they patented a self-advertising beer pump called Free Beer. A cylindrical, acrylic lens around the tap generates not only brand messages but also giveaways for patrons. The pair also created the Waste Not pasta company; it’s a brand designed to reduce the waste of food through packaging that only dispenses one serving at a time. The product’s first manufacturing run sold-out in hours. (To check out more of their work, visit their site here.)
At Grey the pair continued to undertake a range of creative projects, such as an exhibition of social media profile pics in the London Portrait Gallery and the Louvre, and generated royal wedding messages for William and Kate in the form of freestyle raps.
Commenting on their new home, Forrest and Beale had this to say: “We’ve moved from a place called 'Grey' in rainy England to a place called 'Mistress' in sunny Los Angeles. We think that sums everything up.”’
O’Brien’s Hire is Love Finally Requited
The Mistress partners say that bringing in O’Brien is a major step in the growth of the agency and a potent statement about the future direction of its work. “Having Maggie join us continues to plus our digital and interactive chops,” says Partner and Creative Director Damien Eley, who points out that work she’s produced has been recognized at Clio, Cannes and D&AD.
O’Brien’s credentials are impressive. As an interactive producer, she’s been responsible for execution of some of the most well-known branded digital experiences in the industry. She started in the digital space at EVB in San Francisco, where her first project, Office Max’s “Elf Yourself,” would net close to 200 million online views and establish itself as a benchmark in interactive creativity and consumer engagement.
From there she moved crosstown to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, where she worked on the Hotel626 and Asylum626 efforts for Doritos, an accomplishment that got her on the very last print cover of Ad Age’s Creativity Magazine.
Other notable campaigns she’s been associated with include Mitsubishi’s “Live Drive” interactive experience, produced for 180 L.A., and a Hennessey campaign for Droga 5 that featured filmmaker Martin Scorsese and prizefighter Manny Pacquiao.
The hire of O’Brien reflects the consummation of a long, smoldering courtship for the Mistress partners. “Maggie walked into our doors soon after we’d opened because she read one of our press releases proclaiming that we were one mistress Tiger Woods didn’t have an affair with,” says Eley. “She simply said, ‘I want to work here.’ She impressed us so much that, as soon as the demands of our clients required that we hire a senior interactive producer to head up our digital production, we didn’t even bother to interview for the position. We just hunted her down in New York.”
“Mistress kept their promise when they said they’d be hiring me once they had the opportunity, O’Brien says. “Now, three and a half years later and 2,778 miles away, I’m joining the team and moving back to the West Coast. You’ve gotta love their ambition and dedication. They left me with a lasting impression, which is why I had no hesitation in joining the team."