And what's the down-side? Wait a second - what is in-housing, again?
A host of brands have created and executed their latest ad films in-house; meaning the process lacks the involvement of mainstream, external advertising agencies. While some crafted the ads in-house and roped in production houses to get them executed, others did it all - right from creating an ad to putting it on film. Also, in another case, it was a brand consultancy, led by experienced marketers, that pulled off the creative part.
But what's the yardstick that marketers use to figure out the in-house vs external agency dilemma? We spoke to a few to get their take on the pros and cons of in-housing.
Amit Thete, general manager, marketing and CRM, Mercedes-Benz:
Pros: Hiring a team to create the communication internally shortens the process. That is, the turnaround time is less and sharpness and perception of the brief is better. Secondly, there is a lot of operational flexibility when it comes to things like quick changes or tweaks. Third, in-house people probably have the best understanding of the brand because they are a part of it. Also, it is definitely cost-effective and economical as there is a cut-down on hefty agency fees.
Cons: There is a risk of the communication becoming repetitive from the creative fatigue perspective. It may hinder creativity or novelty because it's the same set of people working in the same environment within the same organisation. In the case of external agencies, there is the diversity of different people working on different brands - while one guy is working on Mercedes Benz, another is working on Johnson & Johnson or some other brand - and they talk to each other. There are different perspectives. The creative director working on my brand has also handled or is probably handling other accounts too.
Shuchi Chawla, head - Brand and PR at ixigo:
Pros: The in-house advertising model is on the rise specifically for digital brands where time is of the essence and businesses have become more ROI driven. Brands are also able to save time and costs by building creative and production expertise in-house. In-housing provides dedicated resources who understand the brand and are focused on delivering quality. Next, there's the quicker turnaround time and a faster approval loop. The team has subject-matter experts and also helps with better creative optimisation looking at business results. And finally, there's full ownership of the content created in-house.
Cons: In-housing might cause communication to be brand heavy and miss out on a neutral point of view. Too much influence of internal stakeholders might skew the final output. Aside from that, external agencies possess strong industry know-how.
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Peeyush Bachlaus, GM - marketing, Kansai Nerolac Paint:
Pros: If there is a rush to let out communication by the brand or if the brand seeks better or deeper control over its communication and the process, for whatever reason, having a setup in-house would surely be better. Also, if the brand is putting out communication in a certain manner, like following a template or format which needs to be done frequently, in-housing is the option.
Cons: Advertising requires a talent pool and one needs to realise that advertising, as an industry, hugely depends on people's talent. Thus, the challenge would be to keep good talent and keep it fresh. In a traditional agency, the team gets to work on a variety of briefs from different brands, product lines and, of course, consumer sets. This enriches them. It's the brand owner's challenge to harness that enriched talent. It's not just about basic advertising, but with today's content having so many facets, layers and usage, it doesn't come in a standard dimension. That way, bringing things in-house will lead to a debate about what aspects of advertising to bring in or to bring a full-service agency on board - in-house.
Karan Kumar, chief and brand and marketing officer, Fabindia:
Pros: There’s a much faster turnaround time when things are done in-house, but it requires a fairly competent team of people who are really good at their jobs. Having a smaller team with lesser experience might be cost-effective. Cost can also be saved in studio sort of projects; having an in-house studio might be cheaper compared to outsourcing. In case of things that need to be done on an on-going basis, frequently and in continuation of a certain current model or thought process, it’s more efficient to work with a team internally. The entire process of briefing and returning with outputs is also much faster.
Cons: On larger, more strategic communication, there is a merit in seeking partnerships externally since it helps in raising the bar of work in relation to the industry scenario. It also helps to compliment one's own thought process with the exposure (both Indian and global) and partners who are also working with other brands and clients have that. Sometimes external agencies provide access to really senior talent which otherwise cannot be afforded in-house.
(These opinions have no bearing on the relationships their brands have with agencies.)