“We’ve all come out of the same pile of poo, right?” muses Paulo Salomao. He’s one of the founding leaders of Other, a new creative agency formed as a sister agency to the famous Mother London. Other is one of a raft of new creative agencies around the world that have blossomed from the horse dung of Covid-19 – only this one has the backing of one of the world’s most respected and iconic independents.
Other launched in October with an emotive campaign and clever ‘Care Wildly’ platform for DTC flower brand Bloom & Wild – and it’s a partnership that embodies the ambitions and intent of the agency’s co-founders business leader Paulo Salomao (previously W&K), strategy leader Sarah Oberman (previously Grey London), creative leader Kyle Harman-Turner (formerly Mother) and lead maker Metz Bryan-Fasano (previously VMLY&R).
“The Bloom and Wild founder went round London, measuring all the letter boxes in every different borough to make sure that the delivery box would go through. That sort of hustle aligns a lot with the things that we have been doing, and we have been talking about as what we want, our agencies have to act and behave like,” says Kyle.
The agency was conceived when the team at Mother noticed an uptick in clients interested in independent creativity and open to new ways of working. Internally Kyle started formulating a plan with Mother founder Robert Saville “who’s still really hungry to do interesting, different things in the market”, and then the search of Other’s ‘super team’ kicked off.
Rather than recruit solely from the mothership, Other carefully curated a team from across the industry. “It was yet purposely mixed,” says Sarah. “Kyle's got a little bit of Mother in him, but it was purposely about finding people that weren't from here so it wasn't just a carbon copy. There are people in that would bring different experiences so it has its own its own flavour.”
One really distinct part of the leadership line-up is Metz Bryan-Fasano – agencies rarely bring production to the fore in such a way. At the time of our interview, Metz is on vacation, but Paulo highlights that her role as a leader is central to the kind of agency Other aims t be.
“I still find it kind of amazing that no one ever puts production at that level, because we have to make stuff,” say Paulo. “Making stuff is part of the creative process and you have to do it in really creative ways. I still get a bit surprised every time I see something launch and someone in the production role is not there, it genuinely like shocks me. So we were really proud of it, and wanted to sort of make sure that that line up felt complete in that way.”
Other’s founding clients are distinct and disruptive – Bloom & Wild a postal punch of flower-power taking on the stuffy and expensive likes of Interflora and The Out, an experimental car hire or mobility platform by Jaguar Land Rover.
“It just comes back to the fact that the people that are running, these companies have spotted an opportunity, they've got an opinion on it. They've really got out there, they've been restless to go create that opportunity. And they just want to speak to like-minded people,” says Sarah.
What unites the team is a shared set of values. “We're strongly opinionated about our brand and its role in the world, so the restless energy felt very important to have within the agency, as did usefulness in the form of always one step away from doing things, making things and making them happen. And curiosity will manifest them work that will have a flavour.”
Another important and distinctive factor in the construction of Other is the emphasis on team members’ broader creative lives. Everyone is encouraged to bring their side projects to work and to see themselves as more than their job role. The hope is that this will encourage a blurring of lines and bring a broader range of skills and insights to client projects.
“I'm a football journalist, in one breath over here. I'm an art dealer over here, I'm, I'm doing all these other things. Same as the other guys,” says Kyle. “We've got other things that we are and that we're interested in. And that's what we ask of our teams and people who come in too. Suddenly the lines start to blur in a really beautiful way. One of the creative teams I'm working with are starting their own vegan pork scratchings brand.”
The team say that their set up, and the kinds of clients that they’re attracting, mean that they’re able to come up with creative business model solutions as well as campaigns and communications. According to Sarah it comes down to having a team that can get round the table with the client, and a relentless hunger and curiosity.
“We’re coming to it with a completely fresh perspective. And, we're speaking to people in all different parts of their business as well and we're having those conversations really fluidly. It’s like we are an extension of their team,” she says. “It just leads you into different conversations, and we look at their world with different eyes.”
Kyle concurs. “I think clients are noticing what you get from a from a small, tight knit group, who have got that energy and hustle, I think if I had a new brand and I was walking into the world, I’d go into an independent, that's for sure.”
The timing of Other – it’s launch during the global pandemic – is going to leave an indelible influence on the kind of agency it will become too. It can’t not. The acceleration of digital transformation and e-commerce has been a big story of Covid-19, and Other’s been finding a connection with direct to consumer brands wary of being lost in one of the holding company networks.
“It really is a year to forget in lots of ways - almost all the ways - but and for a category like ours that has to understand consumer behaviour and psychology and everything else it's actually probably the most fascinating year ever,” says Paulo. ”I think Mother’s got a way of acting, I suppose. Rather than just talking about something or slumping the shoulders, they’re actually acting. There’s a whole new agency that’s come out of this whole thing and is fascinated by it.”
Looking to the not too distant future, the team hints that there’s more work in the pipeline and clients to announce. The team has hit the ground running with their new agency that any Mother would be proud of.