We did it together: 2021 complete.
And we thought 2020 was tough.
Seriously though, 2021 arrived with its own unique set of challenges: what does working in an office again look like? How do we avoid burnout, both in terms of consumers and our own creative team? Will we ever have another Christmas without Covid? But it also provided new opportunities, ways to step up our game and reprioritise. We now know that nothing is guaranteed – so we learned how to make it all count.
The digital landscape itself saw significant growth this year, with social media usage skyrocketing and users passing the 4½ billion mark. That’s more than half the world’s population. In 2021, TikTok alone surpassed the 1 billion monthly active user mark, surprising no one and making it only the seventh platform to join the billion-user club.
Facebook, or Meta as we should now call it, has reported that its combined portfolio now lets its advertisers reach a potential audience of more than 3 billion distinct users. With figures like this it means marketers could reach more then 60% of all adults aged 13 and above outside of China using ads on Facebook’s portfolio of platforms alone.
Stand by for the rise of the metaverse. Or not, we’ll have to see what Elon thinks first.
Building on the industries’ optimism and helping make an impact:
At the tree, we’re only as good as our clients – and we have some pretty exceptional clients indeed. Over the past 12 months we’ve worked on everything from the launch of the world’s first cardless credit app with Bip, to painting London (and this year, with COP26 dominating headlines and feeds for weeks. On Twitter alone over 10 million unique tweets were sent about the event compared to the 6 million for COP21 back in 2015 – a huge leap that goes to show that global concern about climate change is here to stay.
Negotiations were held, commitments made and at the centre of it all was a focus on countries to working together to make affordable, accessible clean technologies and sustainable solutions.
Among those making commitments were our client Arup, who pledged two things: to carry out whole life carbon assessments on all their building projects, both new buildings and retrofit projects; and to phase out all fossil fuel energy-driven projects from April 2022. Ambitious? Yes, but as the premier multidisciplinary design firm in the world, we expected nothing less.
During COP26 itself, Arup kept the world informed about what was going on with a 300 post campaign orchestrated by the tree from 1st October to the 17th November 2021 that brought in over 2 million impressions. After all, knowledge is power – and in this case the power was both clean and sustainable.
We can’t mention clean energy without talking about Anglo American, another of our brilliant clients, and their work on realising the hydrogen economy by deploying hydrogen-fuelled solutions as an alternative source of green energy. This, along with their sustainable mining plan (FutureSmart MiningTM) and their planned production of POLY4 (a multi-nutrient and low-chloride fertiliser suitable for sustainable, organic farming) at The Woodsmith Project in North Yorkshire, embodies their ongoing mission to modernise mining and minimise its effects on the planet. This year, we also called on our social listening team to get under the skin of Anglo American’s audiences in key countries to gain important insights to inform a new people-focused strategy that is centred around Anglo American’s key pillars: innovation, sustainability, diversity, and community.
For us, 2021 was the year we truly delved into the fintech sector, with both Toqio and New Day (with Marbles and Bip falling under that umbrella) joining our growing roster of clients. The intersection of the digital and banking spheres has been exciting to watch as a very traditional industry has been forced to adapt to new technology, new security risks and new consumer behaviours and expectations.
Ever ones to buck the trend, our tastiest client Wenzel’s has gone against the (whole)grain and opened up 50+ additional stores this year on high streets around London and beyond. Our work with them included a total, modern refresh, with socials and in-store getting the full tree-tment. Tell us when we’ve gone too far with these puns. We are very much looking forward to launching their new e-commerce solution in 2021 in partnership with the root, our content management system.
the tree may have its roots in London, but we are a global company with clients worldwide, from tech upstarts Palaver, and skincare specialists Romilly Wilde, to big travel names like easyJet and higher education giants like QAHE. We’ve raised a glass with Wainwright and Young’s, filtered out the bad water with Pentair and Zapp-ed away until we (and everything else) were blue in the face. It’s been quite a year.
If our work is the cake, then awards are the icing on top. With a year full of amazing projects we’re pleased to say we took home a few pieces of hardware in recognition of the stellar work our teams have created and deployed.
Earlier this year, at the UK Content Awards, we won gold for both Collaborative Content Campaign of the Year with easyJet and Crisis Response Content Campaign of the Year with Anglo American.
Not only were these campaigns singled out, but the tree won Best Large Agency of 2021 at the Global Social Media Awards and was included in The Drum’s Digital Census 2021 and was also included in the UK’s best agencies as rated by clients.
2021 for the tree
As we mentioned, 2021 was not without its own trials and tribulations. However, in true tree fashion we stood tall and weathered the storm. Through a combination of masterclasses, flexible working policies, creative workshops and team socials (not to mention more Teams calls than you can shake a twig at) we emerged more bonded than ever and looking forward to what is to come.
This great show of company spirit was accompanied by a growth in revenue by 90% and in sheer size with over 20 new employees joining the team. Amongst those are Stuart Button, our Creative Director (formerly of Oliver) and Tom Rabin (formerly of The Croc) our Strategy Lead allowing us to level up our offering with creative ideas informed by data-led strategies.
New tree, who this?
2021 also saw the launch of our swanky new branding (we know you noticed), which included giving our website and social channels a contemporary, stylish feel. We have also launched our new Employee Value Proposition (EVP), centred around our culture, work, affiliations, progression, and benefits. From peer-to-peer monthly rewards to Classpass access – this can be used for a range of gym classes and workouts but seems mostly to be providing massages and manicures to our very deserving team – we know our staff deserve to be treated. On that note, keeping mental health and self-care at the forefront of our culture has continued this year, with 8 staff members taking a mental health first aid course so they can provide support to the team.
We unveiled our new tagline at the end of this year and we think it sums up our new direction perfectly:
Present for your future growth.
A combination of a growth mindset, family culture, creating to thrill, being tech-accelerated and fostering resilience, these elements are what we are bringing to our clients and to our team in 2022. Big energy for what we believe will be an even bigger year.
One final thought…
Have a break. Make a tea. (Or pour some fizz). Take a breath.
You deserve to take this time and recharge. We’ll be back in 2022 – and it’s going to be big. Watch this space.
From all of us here at the tree, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!