July 30th, 2008

Mother Says to Eat Your Soup (and Hum a Tune too)

By Emma Hall
Advertising Age

Fresh off Movie Success, London Agency Creates Branded Musical for Pot Noodle

When the minds at Mother, London, were noodling around with a TV campaign for client Unilever, it occurred to them: Why not take the premise and adapt it into a musical comedy for its brand, Pot Noodle?

The result might be the first branded musical, which will open at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Aug. 1.

“When we were approached with the idea, we immediately leaped at the chance to take a show to Edinburgh,” said a spokesman for the brand. “What better way to entertain Pot Noodle lovers? We took the opportunity to do something a bit different that would entertain people at more length.”

Mother’s dabbling in the arts
But this hardly Mother’s first time dabbling in the arts. The agency’s production unit, Mother Vision, also created the feature film “Somers Town” in a collaborative project with Eurostar (the company that operates the passenger train service from London through the Channel Tunnel to France and mainland Europe). “Somers Town,” directed by Shane Meadows, won best film at the Edinburgh and Berlin film festivals, and the best actor award at Tribeca.

“The idea for Pot Noodle the Musical came about as a result of all the fun we had writing the songs for the recent ‘Pot Noodle Says’ advertising campaign,” said Mother creative director Stuart Outhwaite. “Plus we’d created these two characters, Digger and Steve, that we really liked, so it seemed only natural to tell more of their story.”

Actors Will Owen and Ben Frimstone play the same characters, Steve and Digger, in the hour-long show that they do in the current Pot Noodle TV ad campaign. David Sant, best known for his work with comedy group Peepolykus, directed the show. Peter Coyte composed the music.

Aligning another brand with laughs, Mother recently launched a division called Mother Experience, which is currently working on the newly created Pimm’s Summerfest, a five-day comedy festival in London sponsored by the Diageo-owned alcohol drink brand.

Mother Experience also masterminded Pimm’s headline sponsorship of the Latitude Festival in Suffolk this month, which included a Pimm’s double-decker bus serving the drink, Pimm’s picnics, croquet and a Pimm’s bar on an island. In addition to the Pimm’s experience, Mother also brokered a series of TV shows about the festival, which were broadcast by Britain’s biggest commercial channel, ITV.

Outposts get into the act
But it’s not just Mother’s London office getting into the act. The New York office’s experiential business is well established and runs the V Festival in North America. Its Argentine outpost, Madre, in Buenos Aires, generated headlines recently for client 1882 (a liqueur drink) when it installed 1,882 life-sized replicas of rally driver Jorge Recalde in a field alongside one of the race stages at the 28th Annual Rally of Argentina.

So what’s next? It’s anyone’s guess, but bets are it won’t be expected. “Mother has always been about doing different stuff and we have a bunch of creative people that always need creative outlets beyond the normal channels,” said Robert Saville, Mother founder and creative director. “Mother Experience will help us deliver these ideas for forward-looking clients.”


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