School Reports 2018: Oliver

Unilever's Marmite
Unilever's Marmite

Type of agency & ownership:  Builder of client in-house agencies, owned by Inside Ideas Group
Nielsen billings 2017: n/s
Declared income: £71m
Total accounts at year end: 33
Accounts won: 7 (biggest: Pernod Ricard)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Jones Homes)
Number of staff: 484 (-4%)
Key personnel: Simon Martin, chairman; Sharon Whale, chief executive; Rachel Hatton, chief strategy officer; Duncan Trigg, managing director media; Rob Kavanagh, executive creative director
Star player: Darren Forsyth, design team leader

The winds of change kept blowing strongly Oliver’s way last year. The agency, which specialises in putting dedicated teams inside client organisations, not only continued rattling the cage of a complacent adland still clinging to traditional silos, but even found its success envied and its model emulated.

Oliver’s business model wasn’t lost on rival Engine, which, in April, launched NuFu, a global agency providing bespoke teams to work inside client companies, and hired former Oliver executive Sam Broster as its managing director.

So has Oliver begun a flow with which others will go? It’s not inconceivable in the light of an ISBA study (albeit in association with Oliver) published in March. It found that almost half of advertisers now have, or are considering establishing, an on-site or in-house capability. Faster turnaround and closer collaboration were among explanations put forward to explain the trend, although Simon Martin’s claim that on-site agencies could save clients up to 30% has doubtless been taken on board.

With former Proximity London creative chief Rob Kavanagh having assumed creative command after Brian Hooper’s departure for Aesop, Oliver continued evolving its offering to a diverse range of clients. Not least among these was Unilever, which asked Oliver to introduce an on-site agency pilot scheme in 2016 and is now one of its biggest clients.




5 7 7

Agency's year in a tweet

The year Oliver took "inside" global, launching operations in 16 capital cities, and integrating services including media, medical and data.

Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question


*indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation



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