It’s that time again, when we look back at the agencies, the brands, the organizations, movements and trends that have shaped the past year. In 2020 – a year so many of us would like to forget – our industry of problem solvers proved time and again that they have what it takes to muck in, help out, ask questions, shape cultures and change the world. It is them that we celebrate in our New Year Honors.
2020’s worldwide experiment in working from home offered a silver lining for cloud tech companies. WeTransfer, the file-sharing service, saw a huge uptick in users in the first part of the year, passing 70 million monthly active users during the first UK lockdown as users worldwide discovered the value of the Amsterdam-based firm’s simple offering.
That expansion has seen it appoint its first chief financial officer, Melissa Nussbaum (formerly of Candy Crush maker King Digital). The company stands apart from many tech rivals, not least because it has made a profit since 2014. Much of its customer base is in the freelance creative community, however, and its community-building is also worth commendation.
WePresent, the service’s digital magazine platform, has seen its monthly readership reach 4 million and enjoyed a string of genuine editorial cous, including a politically charged collaboration with filmmaker and actor Riz Ahmed. As editor-in-chief Holly Fraser put it when she spoke to The Drum in April, “calling it content would be rude“.
The platform, which often features profiles of the artists and designers in its community, also makes some of its advertising space available to showcase their work. Few branded media initiatives reach as large an audience or generate as authentic a response from their readers, and WePresent’s work nurturing its editorial project could provide a model for marketers seeking to do the same for clients in other sectors.
WeTransfer also provided a model of how to execute brand purpose effectively with its conduct at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in June. It donated 100% of its wallpaper adspace to related causes, including a non-profit organisation designed to combat mass incarceration; Black Future Lab, an organisation that works to make black people powerful in politics; and the Movement For Black Lives, a petition to defund police and to invest the money back into the black community. The brand knew when to step aside and lend its platform to others, while being transparent about its long-term plans.
“To be frank, we have a responsibility to do more, but what we‘re trying to figure out at the moment is how do we do it intelligently,“ admits chief creative office Damian Bradfield. “It has to be sustainable if it is to keep going for 10 or 20 years.“ Marketers interested in improving their connection to users, as well as placing a flag in the ground for corporate purpose, should pay attention to the cloud company’s silver linings playbook.
We’ll be celebrating all our favorite things about 2020 on thedrum.com between now and early January. Keep an eye on our New Year Honors hub to read more.