Power 100 2018: How Michele Oliver brought Mars into uncharted territory

AMV BBDO's Cilla Snowball explains what makes Mars' Michele Oliver one of the UK's most influential marketers.

On the night we launched the Maltesers "Look on the light side" disability spots, we had the entire client and agency team gathered in Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s reception waiting for the first ad to run in the Paralympics opening ceremony. We were all huddled in front of a screen, Champagne in hand, praying that a) the spot would air as planned and b) the response would be as epic as the work. It did and it was. The screen burst into an avalanche of unforgettable and joyous tweets and we all savoured the moment. No-one was more relieved and excited than Mitch, who had personally commissioned, cajoled and championed the work. We were literally jumping up and down for joy. And that single moment neatly encapsulated all of Mitch’s amazing qualities.

Determination to create work that matters, work that makes a positive difference in the world.

Fearlessness in producing work that breaks into new and uncharted territory.

Dedication to her team, in whom she places her faith and trust.

Her unshakeable belief in the power of team collaboration to drive innovation.

Disdain for traditional agency/client barriers that hinder better, faster outcomes.

Deep connection with her consumer.

The Maltesers work delivered record sales growth of 8% for the brand, a 20% uplift in brand affinity and a string of awards for the campaign and Mitch. The campaign has won more than 20 awards for creativity and effectiveness at D&AD, Clios, Creative Circle, APG, The Marketing Society and more. Mitch became an overnight heroine and disability champion, marketing success story, role model and speaker-circuit must-have. Every agency under the sun started cold-calling her (will you all please leave her alone?), other marketers wanted to meet her and The Marketing Society snapped her up for its board of directors. Textbook stuff.

Through all this fame and (brand) fortune, Mitch kept her feet firmly on the ground and her sights ever higher. Never once did she let it go to her head, when it would have been so easy for that to happen. It has simply given her a taste for more: to push us all to do even better, to champion for more inclusivity and more diversity across more brands in the Mars portfolio – a role she created and has rightly just been awarded (another promotion). She is generous with her time and advice, always a giver, always willing to share the credit, pass on her wisdom, to teach, to support others. She is a client role model, though she would never see herself that way. And she is still humble and hungry for advice, inspiration and new learnings. But she is in a hurry. Time waits for no man, or woman.

Mitch leads as a proud working mum, having done nine years at four days a week and been promoted over that period. She advocates flexible working and encourages others to do so. In a remarkable achievement, there has not been one resignation on her team but promotion aplenty. She has the confidence to be herself. She is unafraid to show weakness, to ask for help and advice, to push for more and to demand the earth. Mitch will undoubtedly succeed, because, quite simply, she is a winner.

By Cilla Snowball

Group chief executive and group chairman, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

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