GSK Consumer Healthcare, the pharma company, is bringing some media duties in-house, but believes that agencies still have an important role, especially if they can adapt to the evolving needs of clients.

Scott Grenz, vp/global head of media at GSK Consumer Healthcare, discussed this subject at the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Decisions 20/20 conference.

GSK started bringing its media planning in-house in January, and has also been assessing the possibility of handling certain digital buying functions, like programmatic and search, internally.

A freedom from agency fees means the ability to “reinvest and buy the things that we can in-house,” Grenz asserted. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Why moving media planning in-house made sense for GSK.)

That doesn’t eliminate the need for agencies, but it does redefine the relationship. “The secret is to have transparency in partnership,” the GSK media chief insisted, “and to have an agency partner that’s really vested in truly driving the business.

“They’re willing to potentially look at things a little bit differently”, and even willing to come up with solutions that are “bespoke for the challenge at hand.

“They’re also willing to be agile. As the pace of change continues to amp up, what I need in 2019 from the media agency and what I need in 2020 could be two different things.”

Similarly, from a personnel perspective, “the types of people that we need this year and the types we’ll need next year” are likely to change as well.

With an agency that’s comfortable with full transparency, Grenz said, “We should be okay with those kinds of conversations. For me, that’s a real opportunity to have honest discussions up front.”

On those occasions when the pairing doesn’t work, moving work in-house isn’t necessarily a matter of “sticking a knife in the agency’s back,” the GSK media expert explained.

“It was more along the lines of, ‘This model we had in place wasn’t working for us.’ It was a decision based on, ‘What do we think can really make a difference?’”

Whatever the circumstances, Grenz added, there needs to be a “common bond” between brands and their agencies “to create trust and a collaborative atmosphere that’s based on transparency and openness.

“That’s the only way that the industry is going to really progress. We have to figure out a way to work together.”

Sourced from WARC