LONDON/ROTTERDAM: In the eighteen months since Unilever announced the creation of its in-house agency U-Studio, it has achieved significant efficiencies in its digital marketing.

The company’s recent annual report noted that 17 U-Studios in 12 countries “are now creating content for brand teams faster and around 30% cheaper than external agencies”.

The U-Studio concept has been created in collaboration with Oliver, the creative services agency that supplies bespoke, dedicated agencies that operate from within clients’ offices.

Last year Unilever SVP of marketing Aline Santos, speaking to The Drum, described the work of U-Studio as “quick-fixes, easy, digital” while adding that “strategic thinking” remains with its key agencies, including MullenLowe, JWT, and Ogilvy.

The annual report reaffirmed the role of global and agency networks in accessing efficient production solutions and locations.

The use of in-house teams is an approach that has become necessary in a fragmented media landscape that demands more content, more quickly.

Businesses are having to re-evaluate their strategies in order to focus more clearly on those areas that are most effective – a process that also feeds directly to the bottom line.

Unilever – along with other FMCG companies – has embraced zero-based budgeting to improve efficiencies in brand and marketing investment. The annual report states that “Underlying operating margin improvement was principally driven by higher gross margins and brand and marketing efficiencies from zero-based budgeting”.

Rival Procter & Gamble recently stated its intention of bringing more media planning in-house, as chief brand officer Marc Pritchard complained of having “too many touchpoints between brand managers and consumers, and a lot of project management versus true brand management”.

It also announced it would be cutting its advertising agency and production costs by a further $400m – on top of the $750m savings it has made over the past three years – by the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2021.

Sourced from Unilever, The Drum; additional content by WARC staff