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Lessons in creative in-housing: ‘it’s a solution, not an objective’

Lessons in creative in-housing: ‘it’s a solution, not an objective’

​As in-house creative agencies become increasingly common at large multinationals, The Observatory International‘s Rob Foster identifies five lessons for brands wanting to make it work.

In-housing is a hot topic. It used to be media-driven but increasingly brands are also exploring the opportunities for bringing creative in-house.

Our recent report with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) found that 57% of major multinationals already had an in-house agency of some description, with a further 17% considering one. Furthermore, 82% of those that had in-house resource reported an increase in workload over the last 12 months, and the Covid-19 lockdown has contributed to that in many cases.

Of course, creative in-housing isn’t suitable for every business. However, there are some common elements that successful in-house agency launches share, and brands would do well to keep these tips in mind.

  • In-housing is a (possible) solution, not an objective: A business’s operating structure should be designed to achieve clearly identified business objectives. Whether or not certain roles are suitable to in-house is only one consideration within an overall resource model that looks to achieve the optimal balance between internal capabilities and external partner agencies. If you start with in-housing as the goal, you will likely encounter numerous challenges and complications that hinder potential success.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day: Don’t try to in-house every single element of creative need at once. Mass changes may be unsustainable. Make a business case for a model that meets a small number of key objectives, and over time, once the model is delivering against those initial objectives, you can look to widen the scope further and introduce additional goals. Building by iteration means that you can review performance regularly, building upon successes and spotting any issues early.

  • You aren’t just in-housing creative people and

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