The rise of in-house creative teams

The creative advertising and design world is normally thought to be the domain of funky agencies in stylish Soho offices. However, there’s an increasing trend of brands favouring an in-house team and a more DIY approach to their own creative endeavours.
Specsavers, Ann Summers, Ryanair and comparison site are just some of the brands opting to keep their creative skills firmly in-house. While the two creative approaches aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, there are both advantages and disadvantages to shunning an agency route.

The agency touch

Typically, brands look to specialist agencies for their creative advertising needs and appoint them based on their pitching prowess. Businesses often feel more comfortable and confident in choosing an agency with a proven track record of success and an impressive body of creative campaigns to their name. 
Equally, an external eye can offer some well-needed perspective on a product or brand and the agency can draw on their scope of experience to (hopefully) make the campaign the best it can be.

So why go in-house?

Of course, creative ability doesn’t solely reside in an agency HQ. In-house creative teams are becoming increasingly popular, with businesses often adopting an agency structure within their own organisation.
The reasons why brands choose to keep their creative in-house are varied. Sometimes it’s a decision based purely on cost, while in other instances it’s about having a dedicated internal team who are committed solely to that product/brand. Other times, a business may feel their proposition is compelling enough and straightforward enough not to warrant the creative wizardry of the ad executives.
So what are the pros and cons? Here we outline some possible benefits and problems of in-house creative.

The good

  • Strong, inherent understanding of the product/brand and how it operates in the market.
  • Easier access to other parts of the business – such as product development and marketing teams.
  • Typically, more cost effective than consistently using an agency.

The not-so-good

  • Potential lack of perspective i.e. being too close, involved with the product/brand.
  • Not attracting top talent, as many gifted creatives will be drawn towards the variety of work on offer in the agency world.
  • Less understanding of what will be well received and deliver results.

Best of both

There is of course much flexibility in the way a brand chooses to develop its creative output. While some in-house creative teams take a full service approach, others choose to use a more hybrid model that involves a mix of both internal and external resource.
Sometimes ideas will be generated in-house but then executed using external skills. An in-house team may wish to side-step a creative agency altogether by generating the concept themselves and then using third-party production assistance to make the campaign a reality. Google is one such brand that has world-class creative resource in-house, but also engages with agencies to get some outside perspective.
This hybrid way of working may prove to be the perfect balance for many brands, providing that good communication and a ‘joined-up’ way of working is adopted by all involved.

David Seamons, comments:

“In the agency vs. in-house debate, there’s obviously no right or wrong answer. While some agencies may look rather scornfully upon in-house initiatives, other s will acknowledge the fine work being done by internal creative teams. If an organisation can do good work without the need for an agency, it shouldn’t feel compelled to use one.
A brand must do what feels right for them, what works for their budget and what yields the most effective results. Quite often, a mixture of the two approaches is the most successful way to operate, with the best work usually arising from strong cross-collaboration between a brand and an agency.”
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