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Oliver... for helping brands get in-housing in order: The Drum editorial team’s best of 2020

In 2020, Oliver delivered over 80,000 individual campaigns and over 600,000 pieces of content

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 seen some of the world’s biggest advertisers in-house their creative teams. In September, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and The Observatory International found that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the trend to the tune of 57% among multinational companies.

It’s not just creative either. Growth in digital opportunities has led to a rise in in-house agencies, with 74% being established in the last five years. In just the past year, businesses including Nestlé, Hertz and Anheuser-Busch have jumped on the trend.

It’s no surprise then that Oliver, which designs, builds and runs bespoke in-house agencies and ecosystems for brands such as Unilever and The Guardian, had a bumper year.

With over 200 clients in 46 countries and counting, Oliver has successfully navigated a 12 months in which the ‘house’ in ‘in-housing’ literally became people’s own homes instead of clients’ offices. Though a move to WFH had the potential to sound the death knell for Oliver’s in-house agency model, it took it as an opportunity to accelerate for clients even further.

With remote working, speed and efficiency baked into its DNA, the company has grown its reputation as a customer engagement and creative leader.

At a time when shoots were suspended, Oliver rose to the challenge with ‘chasing the sun’ global production capabilities, home-shooting production studios, offshore content ‘factories’ and the ability to scale-up and scale-down operations at a moment’s notice.

The business maximised and upgraded its proprietary operating system, Oliver Marketing Gateway (OMG), to meet the demands and challenges brought-on by the global pandemic. OMG gives clients immediate and secure access to their global assets, campaigns, experts and offshore capabilities, no matter where they were in the world. Using this system, clients and teams were able to reuse and re-purpose assets and campaigns during lockdown and call on help from countries where people were still able to film or get to the office.

The results speak for themselves: in 2020, Oliver delivered over 80,000 individual campaigns and over 600,000 pieces of content via OMG.

It also created Lynx’s best performing campaign of the decade, got 9 million people across 25 countries to improve their physical and mental wellbeing with Rexona and protected Barclaycard’s customers against fraud, driving a 600% increase in site traffic. As if that’s not enough, it also condemned online bullying and racism with PG Tips.

As a result, Oliver grew 35% year-on-year and saw global revenue figures of $250m. The success was seen in the business’s pipeline too: 15 new clients and three expanded territories, in France, Ireland and Nigeria.

At a corporate level, the business has also this year pledged to become an “actively anti-racist organisation”. This has included giving every individual in the business anti-racism training, appointing a diversity and inclusion lead as well as a chief inclusion officer, enlisting the activism of key stakeholders and business leaders, and recruiting a team of 40+ global changemakers to help the business stay the course. It is also a sponsor of the brilliant Brixton Finishing School.

Crucially, it has protected the wellbeing of its staff this year with a programme to safeguard people’s mental and physical wellbeing in the pandemic, leading to some of the business’s highest employee satisfaction scores on record.

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.

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