Marketing That Counts.

creative +


+ results

Who We Are

Black Olive is an agency of big ideas, of strategy, of design, of process.

Of innovative connectors who build the bridge between vision and results.

We make marketing count, whether changing the world or improving the bottom line.

A story that grew up to become a novel

1976 was the year of the idea, of an agency driven by design; of brand development, consumer products & financial services. We morphed; mesmerized by database marketing and analytics.

We married creative and traditional direct response methodologies to make really great direct marketing campaigns that won on the bottom-line and in the awards. During the 90’s, we added website development, brought Content Management Systems (CMS) to our clients, and added e-commerce. During the next decade, we expanded digital marketing to deliver content rich email marketing, online advertising and digital PR.

Black Olive bottles 40 years of experience, talent and innovation into strategic, integrated marketing communication campaigns for incredible clients and for incredible causes. We have been honored by industry awards. But most important, we’ve been honored by our clients, many of whom have been with us for years.

Client Experience

We’re Pros at the Virtual Office

Even in an industry of innovative, forward-thinking people, Black Olive was an early adopter of the virtual agency concept. We have championed the flexibility & creativity of a virtual culture for over fifteen years. Our team members in three cities love it. Our clients love it because you gain:


Specialists are really specialists—not just someone assigned to your account with a title. You’ll never have someone working on your program with less than ten years of experience—because seasoned talent matters.


We are big believers in personal relationships. A virtual agency doesn’t mean absent—we like face time and phone time.


Teams can be quickly ramped up or down to meet demanding deadlines or project size. We are disciplined, organized, faster, and smarter.


Technology keeps us connected 24/7, helps share files and track projects. You never have to wonder how your project is going.


Pricing is flexible so budgets are met. You get the best talent for every project. Better yet, we extend the virtual concept to our network of talented production partners, saving you 20{50799d76821003e48de23dc4e1804754479eddd1a7de84e390f3cd3744eb3914} or more in markup and commission fees.


Creativity soars. Great ideas don’t typically come in a cubicle. From creative to business strategy, people need space to let their thoughts breathe.

Staying Connected

Black Olive is a 100% woman-owned agency. As a socially-responsible company, we include gender & ethnic diversity, environmental stewardship, social justice and human rights in our selection of team members, suppliers, and clients.

Karen Pittenger is the President of Black Olive, an integrated marketing communications agency that helps companies move from vision to results. Karen and the Black Olive team deliver integrated marketing strategies, strong creative and bottom-line results on high-value client initiatives. Client experience spans government, public and private organizations, Fortune 500 companies, higher education, and nonprofit organizations. Team executives report to Karen as the senior strategist and principal client contact.

Karen serves on the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Board of Directors, and is the former Board Chair of StreetWise, a Chicago agency dedicated to helping the homeless and at-risk populations. In 2017, Karen became a Founding Member of Ida’s Legacy, a PAC (Political Action Committee) dedicated to developing the next generation of progressive African-American women candidates.

From 2007-2016, Karen served on the Board of Directors for the Business Marketing Association (BMA Chicago/Vice Chair mPower Scholarship Program). She also served on the Board of Directors for Manufacturing Renaissance, a nonprofit driving systemic change in underserved communities by providing education and workforce development opportunities for high school students and young adults, and facilitating national industrial policies inclusive of social well-being.

Karen was part of the 2008 Illinois delegation for the Democratic National Convention, serving on the DNC Rules Committee. She is a frequent industry speaker, a political activist, author, and graduate of Purdue University.