1991

2020 off to a flying start

2020 was set up by Rob Potter and Mike Adams in 1991 in Leicester.

Our first job was to help make Leicester Britain’s first Environment City. Within only a few months 2020 had done an official public re-launch of Leicester and set up the Leicester Promotions (now Leicestershire Promotions) to market the city.

Within just one year, we also helped launch Nottingham as Fashion City, put virtual reality well and truly centre stage across the world and had planned the biggest city visitor centre in the East Midlands. Not bad for the first year.

Managing change in local government

Mike left and eventually moved to California. Louise Smith became a director after a live event we did for Nottingham City Council’s entire workforce. It’s always risky stealing top people from your best clients.

Louise’s first job with us was a huge ‘managing change in local government’ pack for local authorities. It got us known by councils across Britain. We launched the pack at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham.

2020 home page 2004

The 2020 roller coaster begins with virtual reality

Since those early days 2020 has enjoyed an exhilarating journey. We’ve been involved in so many great projects and we thanks all those who have shared in our proud history.

During that time we have always been at the edge of new developing technologies.

Woman using Virtuality headset

First there was the birth of virtual reality. And we were right at the core of it with our client Virtuality – helping to make the world aware of their outstanding technology breakthroughs. It took us around the world until the realisation that it was all ahead of its time. We would never have believed it would be over 20 years before VR would surface again.

And other giant steps in innovation

We then worked with one of the world’s most famous sculptors along with the Tate Gallery and British Council on a groundbreaking creative use of 3D technology. Our work was presented at the Best of 21st Century British Art Exhibition in Paris.

Blam!!! titles 2001

We produced on Sky One, the first TV programme ever to integrate the red button so viewers could buy what they see (as part of a quest to find Europe’s best gamer). We created the first ever sports series on Sky Sports that was officially classified as a series of half hour adverts- yet got big audiences during prime-time viewing. We became pioneers of producing advertiser led TV programmes.

Carrying on the trend of being innovative, we were way ahead of the game in developing both interactive CD Rom presentations and applications of web TV. We provided the full creative support to help a small computer games retailer to become an overnight success during the 1990/91 “dot com” boom- worth over £200M (although it fell as quickly as it rose).

We produced the first online weekly showcase of new games on Sky’s new red button retail platform. We were one of the first companies to work with BT on developing trials for broadband applications of video based media back in 2001. We piloted one of the first sports web TV sites (Clickongolf.tv) back in 2005/6- although were far too early to be commercially viable.

So we’ve never been afraid to try new things and experiment. Although this in itself does not create immediate commercial benefits, it has helped us to always position ourselves as a forward-looking company.

Turning ideas into reality through visualisation

Over the years we’ve helped to create video visualisations of concepts and projects to help raise hundreds of millions of pounds from the government. We’ve also been involved in many campaigns. In Leicestershire we have always been involved in the strategic development of the county- producing video insights and conferences. Our visualisation of the Space Centre help win millennium funding. In Nottingham, we presented the concept of Fashion City. In the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, we worked on environmental campaigns as well as countless other initiatives.

2003 – 2020’s first TV ad

We produced our first TV ad for top golf brand Srixon in 1993 that ran for a whole year across the Sky sports channels.

HI-TEC Infinity TV ad

Since then we have done mainly direct response TV ads for relatively small companies- but also brand ads including Bon Marche, Velcro, Yonex, American Golf, Hi-Tec, Direct Golf, Callaway, Fine & Country as well as a range of events and theatre productions.

Conferences and events

Conferences were once a big deal for us. The big events we ran for Crookes Healthcare (managing brands like Nurofen, Strepsils, Farleys, E45 etc) were fun and memorable. Capital One used us for many years to run innovative and sometimes interactive conferences. We also ran interesting company events for Whyte and Mackay, Experian, Axa, Cross Country Trains, the London Business School and Royal Liver. We even produced a virtual conference for the East Midlands Food Industry.

A portfolio of clients to die for

We’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the biggest companies in the world- either directly or via agencies. For Intel and PowerAde, we did mood launch videos for the brands. Over the time we’ve worked for giants like DHL, CGI, Microsoft, Axa, Dow, GE, Coca Cola, Panasonic, BT, Standard Life, Hitachi, Seimens, Hewlett Packard, Mark and Spencer, DHL, Logica, Capita, KPMG, Travelex, Laing O’Rourke, Kidde, Sun Microsytems, Exxon Mobile, Capital One, ASDA, Morrisons, Kayak, Yodel… and the list goes on.

New technology companies

Sontia iPod & Speakers

We’ve also worked with very innovative new technology companies too – Virtuality, EON, Holtronic, Gameplay, Sontia and Visijax – although the common thread of Mark Bernstein, a loyal technology entrepreneur was behind all of them. Until recently we enjoyed working with top technology development companies like PA Consulting, Jones Garrard (the creators of the Channel Tunnel Train) and Renfrew.

Fashion

In fashion, we had a spell of live filming top national and international hairdressing events- the World Hair Congress and British Hairdresser of the Year. We helped showcase the work of top name hair designers with multi-camera rigs with live vision mixing for public viewing. As part of an events company we set up called MCL, we created the World Beauty Awards in 2002, which still runs today.

Transport

In transport, we’ve worked with Ford (a virtual reality ride on the first ever Ford Galaxy), Europcar, Daihatsu, Cross Country Trains, Virgin Trains (including the launch of the high speed tilting train), Alstom (the UK’s leading train builder) and Railcare.

Opportunities to experiment

Some of our favourite clients have been the ones that have given us the opportunity to experiment – like Marvin’s Magic, Europa, Crookes Healthcare and Srixon.

In the public sector we’ve worked with dozens of local authorities as well as government services like the NPIA, CPS, the Home Office and Ofsted. We’ve also worked extensively with big public sector suppliers like Capita, MITIE, Vertex and Rockpools.

Understanding how Healthwatch can help

We’ve always enjoyed the many videos we have made for universities – Nottingham University, Nottingham Trent and De Montfort University.

Dedicated public sector marketing

We even set up a dedicated public sector marketing company with a small group of communications experts that had worked in senior positions in local authorities. Verve Communications got off the ground quickly with a major contract to run the whole of the Communications Department at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. We stayed with the company for two years before we retreated to the sanity of being supportive consultants only.

Working with big names in sport

In sport we’ve had a breadth of experience. We had a year-long contract with Silverstone to cover their motor racing events. We made a video to get support for Wembley as the new national stadium – including contributions form Pele and Stanley Matthews. We even filmed at an FA Cup Final.

Nick Faldo with Planet Golf caption

We’ve made five TV series in golf as well as serving over 200 golf-based companies. We’ve worked with big sports names like Nike, HI-TEC, Callaway, Yonex, Acer/ Wilson and Dunlop.

We’ve met and filmed many sports stars who have been either UK or world’s best in the sports: e.g., Ian Botham, Ian Chappell, Shane Warne, Michael Vaughan (Cricket); Bobby Charlton, Kevin Keagan, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen, Pele (Football); Boris Becker (tennis); Ian Kirkpatrick, Will Carling, Rory Underwood, David Nicoll (Rugby Union), Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Annika Sorenstam, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Nick Faldo (Golf); Gail Ems, Nathan Robertson (Badminton); Nick Matthew (Squash); Tessa Sanderson (Athletics); Steve Redgrave (Rowing); Chris Boardman (Cyclist).

…and top agencies

We’ve worked with some top London agencies. Weber Shandwick (formerly the largest PR company in the world), Porter Novelli, College Hill, 3 Monkeys Zeno, Frank PR, Four Communications are just some of our agency clients. Over time we have built a reputation for telling great 2 minute stories that get the biggest brands seen by huge audiences.

Name-dropping

We have either interviewed or worked with a range of celebrities: Prince Charles, John Hurt, Emma Thompson, Richard Attenborough, David Attenborough, Tony Blair, Richard Branson, Robbie Williams, Tom Chaplin (the band Keane), Phillip Zimbardo (world famous sociologist), Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Ant & Dec, Ronan Keating, James Nesbit, Dougray Scott, Tracy Emin (Artist), Michael Parkinson, Jonathon Ross, Richard Dell, Norman Wisdom, Ernie Wise, Holly Willoughby, James Buckley, Jack Savoretti, Rachel Riley, David Haig, Gabrielle Aplin, Dizzie Rascal and a host of other TV presenters.

Kevin McCloud

Creating new companies to expand into niche areas

We’ve set up many companies as part of a drive to expand 2020 into new niche areas.

The list is extensive: Leicestershire Promotions; Verve and MCL (see above);  Sportcom International (covering the Ladies European Golf Tour for global TV for one year); Golf International to cover two years of programmes for Sky Sports; Shout TV (to create gaming TV programmes mainly for Gameplay); Calico-I to make websites; Online Classroom (with Greg Dyke’s wife and senior academic at the London School of Economics) to make and sell a wide range of A-level tuition videos in Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, RE, PE, History and Business; 2020 Golf to specialise in more golf projects and TV; Shout (under the direction of Mark and Ben Potter) covered music videos, short films and sport; Big Blue Door made public sector websites; Click on Media, now ClickOn create sports entertainment web portals; Leicestershire TV was set up to explore the opportunities for local online TV.

For many, we decided to move away and explore other new opportunities. But our journeys with these companies has been invaluable.

A journey of discovery

We’ve covered literally thousands of subjects – each a challenge to become a temporary expert in. Over time, it’s given us an amazing insight into business and life. Whether we are producing videos, TV, conferences, animations, interactive application, websites, exhibitions, brochures or photography the process of learning never stops. It’s been an incredible journey of discovery.

We’ve traveled the world

Chris filming in Italy

We’ve also traveled far and wide across the world over the years – from most countries in Europe, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Africa, the US, Canada and Mexico to exotic islands like Mauritius, Hawaii and Cape Verde. Australia and New Zealand are sill left to conquer.

Expanding our horizons

We set up our first London office in 1999 and have remained there ever since. We also set up a New York office in 2012- moving to Los Angeles in 2016. We hope to set up other locations over the coming years.

Our people are our success

We’ve also seen so many people come and go at 2020. So many have gone on to do great things. Throughout this time, a stream of dedicated people has made this overall amazing journey possible.

Today Rob Potter, having been seconded to many projects over the years, is still CEO with Louise as Director. Chris O’Brien who was there with us when we started became the powerhouse of 2020. He is now a director and a key driving force of the company. Mike Dobson also started in 1991 and has been a constant star in developing outstanding graphics, animation and innovative online projects. Michael Potter has secured our financial health as Finance Director since 1992.

Notable thanks for their outstanding and long-term contributions must be given to: Anna Creasey, Catherine Baker, Ben Jacobson, Katie Featherby, Dale Robins and Matt Glen. Rob’s sons, Mark and Ben have also had a major innovative influence over the recent development of the company and the quality of production.

Today we have new rising stars (notably Steven Seniw, Becky Edwards and Joe Bevins). David Hayward, ex BBC producer and strategist now steers our media strategy services. We are also developing an impressive range of associates who want to be part of our team. Our ability to tap into their invaluable media experience places us in a truly unique position to build our national and international reputation.

We’re as fired up today as we always have been – and still setting innovative markers for other media companies to follow. Here’s to the next twenty-five years.