2 Minutes With ... Ana Balarin, ECD at Mother London

Her favorite creative projects, from #FreeTheFeed to KFC

Photo illustration: Ashley Epping

Ana Balarin joined Mother London as an intern in February 2007. Eight years later, she and her husband Hermeti were named co-executive creative directors—the first time the agency had bestowed that title. 

Ana oversees all of Mother's creative work for clients such as Ikea, KFC and Stella Artois. She also ensures that the agency uses its powers for good, steering projects like FreeTheFeed, which broke taboos around breastfeeding in public, and 54k, which lobbied the government for maternity rights in the workplace. 

We spent two minutes with Ana, who served on the Film jury for the 2019 Clio Awards, to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations, and recent work she's loved making—and admired from afar. 

Ana, tell us...

The town where you were born. 

A small town in Brazil most people won't have heard of. 

What you wanted to be when you grew up. 

Someone who'd wear a suit to work.

How you discovered you were creative. 

It's an ongoing journey.

A person you idolized creatively growing up. 

Tom Jobim. Chico Buarque. Marisa Monte. Caetano Veloso. João Gilberto. Elis Regina. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life. 

Meeting my husband.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today. 

One of the artists above, I don't remember which. I still listen to all of them today. 

Your favorite artist. 

I'm loving Caroline Walker's realist and poignant portraits of women in London's service industry. 

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction. 

Fleabag. 

The best book you've read lately. 

I'm currently reading At the Pond, and Notes to Self, listening to Michelle Obama's Becoming, and enjoying all of them. 

Your favorite movie. 

When Harry Met Sally. Never gets old.

Your favorite Instagram follow. 

@jessiecave @tasteofstreep and @jooleeloren.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why. 

#FreeTheFeed, was a self-generated project that Mother did for Mother's Day in 2017, in reaction to a study that revealed the majority of women in the U.K. felt judged by where and how they chose to feed their babies. The intent was to start a conversation around the topic, but it quickly took on a life of its own when women all around the world started posting photos online of themselves breastfeeding in public.

Two years later the campaign made a comeback, in partnership with Elvie Pump—with five huge breasts instead of one—but the original has a special place in my heart, as I had a young baby at the time. 

Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why. 

"Chicken vs. Turkey" for KFC Christmas. Coming up with an original angle into Christmas is always a daunting task, so identifying an enemy, in this case the poor turkey, for KFC's chicken was quite fun. The simplicity of the concept allowed us to stretch it from an epic film—scored by a full orchestra to an Ennio Morricone track—to straightforward social posts and tactical media buying next to traditional turkey recipes in food publications. 

Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

As a newcomer to the U.K., Boots' "Summer Rush" managed to capture a collective insight (Britain's relationship with the weather) so vividly like I had never seen done in a commercial. Coincidence or not, one year later my partner and I were working at Mother and creating the film that succeeded it. 

Someone else's creative project you've been envious of lately. 

It came out a while ago, but I still love the simplicity of KFC's "11 Herbs and Spices" stunt on Twitter. 

Your main strength as a creative person. 

I speak little but to the point.

Your weakness or blind spot. 

As above.

One thing that always makes you happy. 

Mother lunches.

One thing that always makes you sad. 

The news.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising. 

Reading by the seaside.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.