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Step Into My Office: Hi Mum! Said Dad on why mobile is the whole cake

April 28, 2016 | 7 min read

'Step into my office', a new series of interviews powered by The Future Factory and The Drum Network, focuses on the challenges and the opportunities facing agencies this year. We will be taking a sneak peek into the lives of agencies, how they work, what their motivations are and what their thoughts are on the current state of the industry. Craig Wills, the managing director at Hi Mum! Said Dad, discusses how mobile is not just the cherry on top, but the whole cake.

So, what does the agency do?

Hi Mum! Said Dad is a mobile-first technology agency. We work with both established brands and start-ups to create digital products and services that have a tangible impact. The agency is dedicated to combining creativity and technology in a way that delights users. Our output is typically focused on apps, responsive web, connected devices and proximity technology while our approach is underpinned by 3 key pillars – think, do and drive.

How long have you been around and why did you start the agency?

We started the business back in 2011 with a belief that the UK landscape was suffering a shortage in mobile tech and creativity. Back then, much of the work was treated in silo and lacked strategic rationale, we felt that brands were missing a huge opportunity and so, we made it our mission to help brands take advantage. Fast-forward to 2016, mobile is no longer the cherry on top, it is the whole cake.

What makes you different from your peers?

Our clients work with us because of our mobile specialism. That combined with our strategy, creative and in-house development means that we can bring the vision to life in meaningful way. We believe that is a key differentiator. Hi Mum! Said Dad delivers heavy lifting tech platforms as well as highly creative output. Few agencies deliver at both ends of the spectrum…plus, we care more.

What have been the biggest challenges over the last year?

For us personally, we’re coming up against more ‘generalist’ digital agencies than we have in the past. They appeal to clients as a one-stop shop, but often their in-house mobile offerings are limited, or they outsource the work. However, given the rate of change and evolution in mobile, dedicated specialists continue to be essential to deliver the best result.

Secondly, off-shoring still threatens to commoditise a lot of the development work we do and we’re not prepared to adopt that model as we don’t think it makes for good output. We’ve seen a shift in sentiment in the last year that supports this, a fair few potential clients have come to us asking to rebuild some of their outsourced products from scratch. Whilst I don’t think that’s because of lacking technical capability - some key off-shoring markets are highly skilled - it’s simply not conducive to cross-capability collaboration and an iterative approach that makes for best in market products.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities over the next year?

Firstly, more and more clients are now on-board with a mobile-first approach and many realise that it’s a specialist requirement, which is a big opportunity for us as we have knowledge and experience they can tap into. Apps are still a big opportunity given the amount of time users spend in them, however challenges remain around the first time use and retention.

Luckily these challenges are also an opportunity to think about the best way to on-board users with source attribution and personalised first time experience. Creating on-going engagement is also a big opportunity by making use of smart mobile CRM programmes.

Linked to this, there’s a great opportunity for more user testing to help us and other agencies build better products. The ‘hit and hope’ mentality of previous years has thankfully gone with clients recognising the importance of testing and applying more rigour to the planning and design stages. The additional money spent upfront pays for itself in most cases as it increases the likelihood of success against their defined objectives.

Where are you based and why this location?

We’re based near Old Street in London. Five years ago we settled on the location because the rent was much cheaper than the West End and we found a small space that was originally a shop front, it was pretty strange to work as a window display right off the high street but a year or so later, we moved into bigger, better offices and we love it.

Despite all the hip kids making us feel old, the area is a bustling tech hub and that energy and excitement is inspiration for both the agency and our staff. At the moment, we even have a start-up working from our office, which is great for the overall culture and an opportunity to collaborate and learn.

How important is location for you?

Really important. The location has changed massively in the last five years, so these changes mirrors the rate of change in the technology landscape. You can come out of the tube every day and see a new building springing up, or hear about a new start-up that could be interesting or relevant to our work and clients.

Do you feel the office needs to be quirky and irreverent or simply functional?

It needs to be more than just functional; otherwise we’d all be working in a service office space. We’ve tried to create a nice, relaxed environment that brings people together, for instance we like to crowd around the dining table to share lunch and coffees. Everyone at Hi Mum! Said Dad is terribly addicted to coffee.

Current clients?

We’re probably best known for our work with Molson Coors, Carling, Oxfam, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mondelēz (Ritz), Children In Need, William Grant, Park Resorts as well as our start up partners, Breathe Sport and Pledgit.

Three projects you were most proud of in the last year?

First up, would be BreatheSport, a new start-up. We worked with them to deliver their mobile-first product at the start of last year; we continued to work with them throughout the remainder of the year continually iterating and improving the product.

Next would be the release of the all-new iPint app for Carling. It was amazing to work on such an iconic app that had so much cultural cache, rebuilding it from the ground up as an all-encompassing consumer reward and engagement proposition.

Lastly, towards the end of the year we delivered a brand new fundraising platform for Pledgit, a challenger in the sector dominating by the likes of JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving. After meeting the founders, we really bought into their idea – the person creating their appeal, also pledges money towards this.

Recent achievements/wins?

Carling iPint recently took an award for most effective loyalty campaign – our Army Fit app which we collaborated with JWT to produce, scored best fitness app 2015 in Huffington Post – beating the likes of Nike+ and Map My Run and our work with Children In Need made for the highest gift aid conversion rate across the industry.

And obviously we were proud to be nominated for “Mobile Marketing Agency of the Year” at the Drum Network Awards.

On the client front we won new projects for Oxfam and also William Grant, which we look forward to sharing with you later on in the year.

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Hi Mum! Said Dad

Hi Mum! Said Dad is a digital product and innovation studio.

We define, develop and launch mobile-first digital products and services for companies hungry...

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