Everything that goes around comes around…
We were speaking in the office the other day about the way that everything in life, big or small, seems to circle back on itself. In the agency world, we recently heard that Iceland was on the lookout for a new agency partner… just 4 months after deciding to bring more creative in-house. (https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/iceland-seeks-ad-agency/1524925). This, of course, isn’t a new thing but seems to be an increasing trend of uncertainty. We are in favour in many ways of bringing things in-house for a period of time (which may surprise you). Here’s why
1. Clients are becoming more switched on creatively than ever
Gone are the days where marcomms teams were just there to organise or project manage multiple agency partners. Which in our book is a great thing. By having a more informed client in terms of the behind the scenes creative development, allows us to not get mutually frustrated and bogged down in communicating ideas and visions. It also means that the work is done up front with senior leadership teams to explain and buy-in to the creative, helping hugely on the back end of the project. How many times have you got to where you think is the perfect idea, maybe even shot the perfect idea, to come to the V1 and it be completely changed from someone high up in the company. That isn’t good for anyone on both sides.
2. Some ‘home’ content can be produced in house
We recently were lucky enough to be shown around the new Amazon HQ, who now have studios and post-production facilities all in-house. Now with the amount of content that will need to be created moving forwards, it just won’t be cost effective for an agency to produce ‘everything’. So having in-house capabilities for that daily VLOG piece of content will, of course, reap the rewards of having full-time employees. If that team then bounces ideas off an agency then the ‘hero’ pieces of content can then be even tighter, braver and create a higher impact.
However looking over the past 15 years the reason why there will always be a cyclical approach to this in-house agency approach is a number of reasons
3. Creatives generally take influence from lots of different sources
To be a creative you need to drink in so many different influences from many different areas. That is both on a mental but also a physical level. So to be chained to the desk working in-house on just one brand (such as Iceland) day in and day out, isn’t going to be conducive to the most out-of-the-box thinking that creative ideas need. In fact, it might have the opposite effect. Also creative are like wild animals, the second the feel tied down then more often than not they rebel, which means that getting a full-time, in-house job may not attract the best talent that you need.
4. The ‘creative value’ vs ‘cost efficiency’
On paper, it seems like if you are spending £100k on content over a year then why not just get 3 people in-house for that? That is normally the financial manager’s response. Which is part of the problem. You may have that efficiency but is that the best for your creative results? What are your KPI’s and marks of success? That is often where the idea falls down and papers over the cracks of a lack of a good plan. If your marks of success are to convert more customers then how are you going to do that? We would say with clear-headed strategy, clever creative and high production values. However, that comes at a certain value that has been built up over time with experience, of seeing projects work and sometimes not work so well. You may not have that from a team that is in-house.
So as things move forwards the out-of-house to in-house creativity will continue to lurch from one way to the next. We would recommend a balance of the two. A team of engaged and informed individuals working on a different levels of content from the smaller daily content with the team around them, and the larger, braver content with content agencies. A great balance and a plan to cover off any angle.