Marketing leaders embraced more flexibility and open communication with their agencies as COVID forced a shake-up of business as usual; now, they are looking to continue the successful changes, especially as in-house agencies become more commonplace.
Why it matters
The COVID -19 pandemic forced a rethink of client-agency relationships, especially with regards to internal processes, approvals and quick creative turnarounds. Now, marketing leaders are looking to translate those lessons into how in-house and external agencies can work together.
As many large brands are setting up their own in-house agencies, the relationship with external partners will need to evolve again. With the amount of touchpoints that now need addressing 24/7, many brands simply need more headcount to hit the mark at the speed required.
Definition and collaboration
“I think that, when we’re working our best, the [internal and external] agencies are collaborating and making the ideas better,” said Michelle St Jacques, Chief Marketing Officer at brewer Molson Coors, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
“It allows us to get to more scale and more personalisation from a brand perspective. I see [the agencies] as being part of the same team, but just having different roles in that,” she said.
For David Rubin, Chief Marketing Officer at the New York Times, which only relatively recently hired external agency partners, it’s crucial that internal and agency partners have smooth communication to ensure everything gets done.
“There’s just so many assets and so many channels [that] it’s just not possible for one place to do it. Also, the planning of how you do that has become so short … for agencies to be able to make all those assets in that timeframe, there’s got to be help,” Rubin said.
How to avoid in-house vs external agency turf wars
Minimise competition: ensure both internal and external agencies have a clear area of work. For example, one develops the idea and one creates the content.
Don’t be afraid to offer open briefs to agency partners for different ideas that can tackle a similar problem.
Test and learn in the real world to start seeing what’s resonating with consumers.
Open communication and collaboration is essential for success.