You & Mr Jones Acquires Majority Stake in Company Behind Unilever’s In-House Content Studio

Oliver and Inside Ideas Group claim to have pioneered the model

(L. to r.) Sharon Whale (U.K. CEO, Oliver), Simon Martin (Founder and CEO, Oliver and Inside Ideas Group), David Jones (Founder and CEO, You & Mr Jones) and Emma Cookson (Partner, You & Mr Jones). You & Mr Jones
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Today, global “brandtech” network You & Mr Jones announced perhaps the largest in an ongoing series of acquisitions across the marketing space since its 2015 launch with the purchase of a majority stake in U.K.-based Inside Ideas Group.

The company is best known for its Oliver division, which specializes in helping brands develop their own in-house marketing teams. Clients include Google, BMW, 3M, Samsung, Pepsi, JPMorgan and, most famously, Unilever, whose content group U-Studios launched in 2016.

London-based investment banking group GP Bullhound advised the groups on the deal.

“We’re excited to be joining a group that enables our clients to tap into a broad range of amazing tech-led products and capabilities,” said Simon Martin, founder and CEO of Inside Ideas Group and Oliver. He added that clients will now be able to access “a wider spectrum of the most advanced and innovative marketing technology solutions” thanks to other You & Mr Jones properties like content marketing company Gravity Road, data provider 55 and creator network Mofilm.

You & Mr Jones CEO and former Havas executive David Jones said, “When we launched in 2015, we set out to disrupt marketing using technology and to create a brand new model for clients.” He then praised Martin’s group for “delivering brilliant creativity in-house and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for global brands.”

In its 2017 annual report, Unilever credited U-Studios with helping the CPG giant save up to 30 percent on production costs, a result achieved in part by reducing the amount of work assigned to external agency partners.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed said in a statement that his company was “an early convert to the radically different approach that Oliver takes in partnering with its clients, and we have also seen the great advantages of working with the You & Mr Jones ecosystem of technology companies.”

Oliver launched in 2004 and currently employs more than 1,500 people in 36 different countries with listed annual revenues of more than $150 million. Its expansion has mirrored that of the larger “in-housing” trend that caught on among an increasing number of big spenders like Verizon and Coca-Cola; nearly 80 percent of brands now include some form of internal agency unit.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.