Friday, January 18

Mistress, the LA Ad Agency That Named a Conference Room After Monica Lewinsky, Eschews Racy Heritage for the Mainstream


The award-winning LA creative shop Mistress — which made a splash a few years ago with its work on Mattel's Hot Wheels and more recently when it partnered with Discover Los Angeles on its "Everyone Is Welcome" campaign following President Trump's travel ban — has now rebranded itself as The Many. I suppose I can understand the agency wanting to make this change: The original, provocative name, dating back a decade, was inspired by its having done project work on the sly for brands working behind the backs of their AORs — like a dude cheating on his spouse with a mistress, get it? Considering the genesis of the business, it's probably not a surprise it's never shied away from taking risks with its work, which is why it's been able to attract clients like Netflix, TripAdvisor, PayPal and Coca-Cola and why Ad Age named it Small Agency of the Year three years running. The repositioning signals that the agency is no mere side piece any longer. Explains founding partner Christian Jacobsen: "The Many embraces our cross-functional approach to work — we are many disciplines, many verticals, many creative solutions. It's about time our name caught up with who we are." I first got to know Christian and his team several years ago when I was out there working on a story about ascendant LA creative agencies. Their first office, a somewhat ramshackle beach house in the grungy thick of Venice, looked like your typical startup: a large, open room jam-packed with young creatives and their slightly more weathered overseers, and teeming with plenty of creative energy (and little dogs running about, naturally). A visit a few years later to their slicker, more industrial digs in Santa Monica signaled that they were beginning to move up in the world — but the spunk and spirit of the place were still every bit as evident. I remember being amused by the names they chose for their conference rooms over at the new offices. It's kind of a thing in the ad world to give one's meeting spaces names more clever than, say, "Conference Room A" — these are creative enterprises after all. Some do this to better effect than others, and Mistress did it better than anyone, naming its conference rooms after — what else? — famous mistresses. A couple of the more memorable ones, as I recall, were the "Camilla Parker Bowles" and the "Monica Lewinsky." They'll be missed, as will one of the cleverest names for an ad agency ever.