Are Internal Ad Agencies the Stepsister or Cinderella?

Internal ad agencies are in an interesting position. They are often privy to more product insights, consumer understanding and corporate ambitions than an outside agency would get close to.

They’re filled with clever people who are employees (read “equals”) of the company and can skip across the office to chat with the Marketing Department, Channel Heads or Brand Managers.

But this can come back to bite them. It can be hard for a Marketing Manager to retain the status of client, which can cause issues about who’s in control or most knowledgeable about the consumer.

They can also suffer from a step-sister complex, not being as exciting or glamorous as the agency in town. Their work almost always cost less which means they’re often valued less.

No matter how clever and creative the internal agency is, they are still given the jobs that no outside agency could turn around in such a short amount of time, with so little money.

But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Robin Garnett, the Creative Director at The Discovery Channels in the UK, has been having a great year: spectacular creative work, big increases in the viewer numbers, and a whole new raft of awards for his shelf.

The inside view on an internal agency
Robin’s team just won “In-house Creative Team of the Year” at the World Promax awards, so I wanted to know what he thought the benefits were of working with an internal agency.

He said “The advantages of an internal agency from a creative point of view, are knowledge, not being slave to profit, and trust.

A team that lives and breathes a particular brand or product knows its audience, what’s been done before, and will therefore go beyond the cliche responses to a brief that external agencies often give you.

Creatives are motivated by knowing that however modest the budget, the money will end up on screen rather than vanishing in overheads and agency fees.

And by being internal, you can build meaningful and proactive relationships with clients and other stakeholders in the business that an agency would never get near: this builds trust on all sides, and trust is the key ingredient any agency needs to sell in brave and distinctive work. 

However, no internal agency should live in a bubble: there’s nothing like the threat of a juicy project going out the door to get internal egos and creative juices truly flowing!”

Google’s Creative Lab
So if trust is the key ingredient, let’s look at this web film done by Google Creative Labs for Google Analytics. They clearly know their consumer and it’s filled with insights – do you think they’ve developed the brave and distinctive work you’d hope to get? Drop a note in the box below and let us know what you think.

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