Awards & Press

Ovative In: Twin Cities Business May 2021

Despite a hybrid work model and new hires in 11 states, the company is expanding its Minneapolis headquarters.

The pandemic has been good for business at Ovative Group, the Minneapolis-based digital marketing agency founded by former president Dale Nitschke. But as more and more clients sign on, now convinced that e-commerce,  online analytics, and digital branding are essential to success, Nitschke is doubling down on a seemingly pre-pandemic modality: more office space.

Ovative is adding an additional floor to its office, which currently occupies floors 9-11 of the Nordic building in the North Loop. Construction will begin in June on the 19,150 square foot expansion, which will provide a dedicated workstation for each of Ovative’s 245 team members—and growing. The new space, designed by local architecture and design firm Studio KKChong, will accommodate up to 314 employees.

“It’s human behavior—people want to be together. I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” Nitschke said. “The energy, the joy of being together, I’m a believer that people want a space to go to.”

Attendance will not be required, however. “It’s up to the team to choose. We’re not dictating. I feel like if you create the right environment, people will want to come in, and be surrounded by smart, excited people.”

Feather bowling alley at Ovative Group. Rendering by Alexander Zoltai

In addition to adding workstations (with ergonomic, standing desks) and conference rooms designed for video meetings as well as in-person collaboration, the expanded Ovative office will feature a game area with feather bowling courts and shuffleboard, a rooftop bar and lounge area and outdoor rooftop deck with skyline views. There will be beer and kombucha on tap.

“Our team includes a lot of young people who share apartments, or their WiFi goes out,” said Nitschke, who works in a glass enclosed space in the center of the office for full transparency. “We want to create an opportunity for them to choose.”

And yet, as Ovative augments its Minneapolis headquarters, the agency continues to grow nationwide. Pre-pandemic, just three Ovative employees lived outside of the Twin Cities. Now, 30 employees are based in 11 different states. That includes staff members who felt liberated this past year to move away and retain their jobs as well as new hires in cities including Atlanta, and Chicago. Now with a dozen Ovative employees in New York, that group is asking for a satellite office—so they can be together, Nitschke said. “We’re letting them pick the space.”

Ovative has added 123 employees in the last two years. Currently the firm wants to fill an additional 35 spots, Nitschke said. Lifting geographic boundaries makes it easier, especially in a tight labor market. But it hasn’t made the CEO second guess investing in headquarters. “The space helps people to understand our culture. We continue to believe that providing an amazing environment for our team and clients to brainstorm, solve hard problems, collaborate and socialize is core to our brand, our culture, our values.”

Rooftop deck at Ovative Group. Photo by Ryan Siemers

Since early 2020, Ovative has signed 25 new clients across its integrated media, measurement and consulting services. Nitschke said the pandemic pushed many reluctant senior leaders to step up their digital efforts. “Our behavior has changed, which made more companies realize they need to consider digital in a way they haven’t before.”

That focus on digital won’t end with vaccines. “It’s just accelerated our advancement and integration of digital services,” Nitschke said. But much like his confidence in the future of the office, Nitschke believes that brick and mortar stores will regain their footing along with restaurants and other in-person experiences.

“I think people will embrace joy.”

Allison Kaplan. “Digital Agency Ovative Group Doubles Down On Office Space.” Twin Cities Business, May 11 2021.

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke

CEO & Founder

About the Author

Dale is the Founder and CEO of Ovative. After years of operating a large omni-channel business and leading a customer data initiative, Dale knew there was an opportunity to create a marketing firm that helped clients become more customer centric and drove better performance outcomes. A gap existed between business consultancies and advertising agencies that modern marketing approaches demand. He also believed that a strong, healthy culture could attract and develop smart, talented team members. In 2009, he formed Ovative to bring media, measurement, and consulting together under one roof to enable an enterprise approach that drives more revenue and grows clients’ customer base.

Prior to founding Ovative in 2009, Dale spent 23 years at Target Corporation where he served as President of and grew the ecommerce business from start-up stage to a $1 billion+ business and established the foundation of Target’s Guest database capabilities. Previously he served as SVP Merchandising at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. Dale has advised retailers and brands globally on business, growth, marketing, and measurement transformation strategies.

Outside of Ovative, Dale is a leader on topics including business strategy, change management, and team leadership. He serves on the board of Allergy Amulet and on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison.  He enjoys spending time with his family, up north in northern Wisconsin, playing golf, and cheering on Wisconsin sport teams.

Steve Benson

Steve Benson

Chief Financial Officer

About the Author

Steve is the Chief Financial Officer of Ovative. Steve is responsible for the company’s IT, corporate accounting, treasury, tax, financial planning and analysis, and Business Operations

Prior to joining Ovative, Steve provided finance and accounting advisory services to clients. Before that, he spent 23 years at Target Corporation, leading Finance and Accounting teams.

Steve enjoys distance running, woodworking, and traveling. Steve and his wife have two sons, and they enjoy escaping to the Minnesota north shore.

Annie Zipfel

Executive Vice President, Media

About the Author

Annie is the Executive Vice President of Media at Ovative. She oversees delivery and growth across paid and owned media (digital, traditional, and retail media) and creative services.

Annie has more than 30 years of experience in media, brand management, insights/analytics, marketing, and product. She has also developed large, high-performing teams and built new measurement capabilities. Annie led the marketing team at Andersen Windows & Doors, leading the digital, social, content, customer insights, and creative functions. Prior to that, Annie served in multiple marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, REI, Target, and General Mills, with a keen focus on brand, media, insights, analytics, and measurement.

Annie is an industry leader in brand management, customer insights, e-commerce, social media, and analytics. She enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, fishing, and spending time with her sweet dog and two sons.

Bonnie Gross

Executive Vice President, Talent Services

About the Author

Bonnie is the Executive Vice President of Talent Services at Ovative. She is responsible for attracting and retaining top talent and creating a culture in which our team thrives personally and professionally. Under Bonnie’s leadership, Ovative has defined an industry leading leadership and development program and transformed our approach to talent recruitment with a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Bonnie led Ovative’s Client and Business Development team overseeing client satisfaction and new growth opportunities.

Before joining Ovative in 2014, Bonnie spent 13 years at Target Corporate as the VP of digital and Digital Marketing where she led the launch of Cartwheel, an industry-leading social shopping application. Bonnie was the VP of Marketing for Fingerhut for 15 years prior to joining Target.

Steve Baxter

Steve Baxter

Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

About the Author

Steve is the Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Ovative. Steve has been with the company since 2010 and launched Ovative’s media practice in 2012.

Prior to joining Ovative, Steve worked at Target for 8 years where he led development of Target’s CRM initiatives, Digital media analytics and Target’s Media Network. In 2005, Steve developed Target’s proprietary in-house capabilities to both measure in-store sales impact from digital brand investments and personalize marketing messages across both digital and non-digital channels.

Steve is an industry leader on topics including marketing, advanced measurement, ecommerce, and monetization. Steve enjoys fishing, camping, golfing and trying to stay competitive in any sport with his three boys. Steve enjoys escaping to the MN north shore with his wife, boys and dog whenever possible.

Beth McKigney

Senior Vice President, Measurement

About the Author

Beth is the Senior Vice President of Measurement at Ovative. She is responsible for developing, implementing, and supporting proprietary technology products that enable clients to unlock insights across marketing channels and devices. Since joining Ovative in 2013, Beth built Ovative’s Site Analytics & Optimization practice and Ovative’s unified marketing measurement tool, MAP. She is spearheading development of new technology products focused on advanced analytics, testing and reporting.

Prior to joining Ovative, Beth spent 9 years at Target in multiple digital and marketing analytics roles. She defined and delivered Target’s email and mobile marketing strategies, identified and defined guest-facing technology enhancements, and managed site-wide promotional marketing plans.

Beth is a thought leader in advanced analytics and optimization strategies. She regularly advises clients on strategies to improve their marketing effectiveness and is a published thought leader. She lives in Brooklyn Park with her husband, two boys and dog, Sota.  Beth’s an avid University of Minnesota sports fan (especially football – Row the Boat!) and enjoys downhill skiing, biking, hunting and fishing.

Lindsy Steinberger

Sr. Manager, Paid Search

About the Author

Lindsy is a Sr. Manager on the Paid Search team at Ovative.

Tyler Spiwak

Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Tyler is an Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Dianne Anderson

Senior Vice President, Media

About the Author

Dianne is the Senior Vice President of Media at Ovative. She is responsible for delivery and growth across paid digital media, traditional media, marketplaces, and creative services. Since joining the company in 2013, Dianne has been a key leader in establishing new channel practices, a strategic voice in media and marketing strategy and a driver scaling best in class teams. She regularly advises clients on ecommerce, retail, digital media and measurement strategies.

Prior to joining Ovative, Dianne spent 8 years at Target leading strategy and activation of digital e-comm and brand marketing initiatives.

Dianne is passionate about music, leading ukulele lessons for the team and participating in office musical collaborations.  Her happy places are Northern Wisconsin, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she enjoys making memories with her family.

Lillian Smith

Senior Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Lillian is a Senior Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

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