Boots teams up with Oliver to open an in-house agency | Advertising
Boots enlisted specialist housing agency Oliver to help set up an in-house agency, with a particular focus on in-store marketing.
Although Oliver Nottingham will sit separately, he will work hand-in-hand with Walgreens Boots Alliance’s global marketing and communications agency, The Pharm, which includes WPP’s VMLY&R, Ogilvy, Hogarth and Mediacom, as well as B-Hive, Boots’ internal workshop.
The in-house agency went live on August 17 and the team of 50 recently moved into a bespoke Oliver space at Castle Marine, close to Boots’ head office.
In a bid to “improve Boots’ overall agency operating system,” Pete Markey, Marketing Director of Boots, said he hosted a keynote earlier this year.
He wanted to find a partner who “understood customer marketing in order to attract and retain more people in the store”.
Markey added, “We’ve changed some of our agency relationships to make that happen.”
After a competition between agencies of similar ability, Oliver was selected.
Sharon Whale, Managing Director of Oliver, said: “What Pete and the team wanted was a partner that they could go through a longer-term transformation process with – in terms of the technology to use and the kind of automation to put in place in the business, so that Pete can free up his experts to focus on moving the business forward with less administration.” While Oliver will be primarily focused on the in-store marketing, Markey said he will also be working on other key projects, in addition to producing small pieces of content.
He is currently working with The Pharm to bring Boots’ “Joy for all” Christmas in-store campaign to life.
This isn’t the first time Markey and Oliver have worked together. They have teamed up before when he worked at the TSB and the post office.
“Each time I’ve had Oliver come in, it’s been very transformative in terms of the work they’ve been able to do. Not only to help us save money, but more importantly to make the job more effective and efficient. as well,” Markey said.
The decision to open an in-house agency follows a number of significant changes Markey has made to the Boots marketing team since taking on the role of CMO in February 2021, after two years as CMO of TSB.
In September 2021, Boots launched its own marketing agency, Boots Media Group, which creates advertising campaigns for Boots suppliers and partners, based on its Advantage Card loyalty program.
He said, “This area is seeing strong growth and great supplier engagement. And we’ve done a lot more about our data-driven business, investing in technology and connecting our suppliers to our customers and our data a lot more.
Although Markey said he admires Specsavers’ end-to-end in-house service, unlike opticians, he prefers the “hybrid model” to the “all-inclusive”.
“I like the setup we have. It gives us the best of everything. We have The Pharm which offers incredible strategic thinking with big ideas, like our Christmas campaign. Then we have Oliver on our side to help us interpret that, but also to do their own work as we deliver campaign activities.
Markey said his main priority is to make sure the agencies work brilliantly together.
He added: “It’s the special formula. You don’t need one size. The perspective is quite unique. Very few companies end up ending up this way.