We came across an article on the Drum where they discussed a recent report conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and The Observatory International. It found the growth in digital opportunities has led to a rise in in-house agencies, with 74% being established in the last five years.
According to the report, in-house teams are receiving more work, with 82% claiming their workloads have increased over the past year. a side effect of the pandemic has presented a need for brands to become more agile and efficient with their working practices.
With this in mind, we met with Stephanie Fair, Creative Services Manager at Pernod Ricard UK to discuss in-housing in more depth, the appeal of a freelance workforce, some tips to make in housing work and how COVID-19 has impacted them.
What is in-housing?
An in-house agency is a team of creative talent that service one company. This means the team can be fully integrated into the brand and allows for better collaboration, greater cost efficiencies and deeper brand knowledge.
Why did Pernod Ricard UK move to an in-house model?
Pernod Ricard opened its first in-house agency in Colombia back in 2014, and due to its success, we expanded the in-house model globally. Pernod Ricard UK (PRUK) set up its first in-house agency in 2018 – The Mix London. We started off as a small agency working on adaptations and social assets; fast forward two years, and having gained trust from our colleagues, we now work on a wide range of projects; from product launches, global key visuals, ideation, photography shoots and video assets, plus many more.
The great thing with how The Mix operates is that we don’t have any limitations on what we can try our hand at. As long as there is a freelancer with the capabilities, we can bring it in-house to work alongside our Creative Director and creative team, to deliver the business with a seamless service that delivers on project outcomes whilst following brand world guidelines to ensure a consistent message.
Working with freelancers always brings a fresh perspective
What is the appeal of a freelance workforce?
The main driver for the business is the flexibility of having a freelance workforce, we can increase or decrease our team, depending on the demand from the business. Not only this, but every day we get to work alongside outstanding talent; Cannes award-winning creative teams, illustrators that have exhibited across the country, video editors that work on high end TV assets, the country’s top sign writers and project managers that have worked with some of the leading global agencies.
Working with freelancers always brings a fresh perspective into The Mix, a collective of creatives destined to make an insightful impact with a lasting legacy.
Do you use any other agencies? If so, what for?
The Mix is not a mandatory service; therefore, a piece of work could be briefed to an external agency. This means we need to ensure our internal level of work is as good, if not better, than what an external agency could offer. It makes us competitive and helps drive our creativity.
Our goal over the next 12 months is to grow our offering, bringing in more creative work into The Mix, this will of course mean we need to grow our freelancer black book to ensure we can offer the same service as our external competitors.
In your opinion, what benefits does in-housing bring?
The first priority of The Mix is to deliver best-in-class creative to the organisation, and so there are many benefits of operating with an in-house model. I believe the main benefit is collaboration with your colleagues. You are all working towards the same goal and have a vested interest in ensuring the project is successfully completed. We have a much higher level of knowledge of the brand’s strategy than an external agency could gain, and this transpires in the work we deliver to the business.
On top of this, an in-house model allows us to operate efficiently and we have much more control on ensuring projects are delivered on time, on budget, with no waste.
From the perspective of our creatives, in-housing with so many different brands means we see a wide and varied amount of briefs in from all areas of the business, across the full portfolio of PRUK’s premium wine and spirits brands.
In your opinion, what disadvantages does in-housing bring?
Many freelancers may feel that an in-house agency offers limited creativity, maybe feeling it to be a stagnant environment, however, it’s quite the contrary. In-house agencies have a higher expectation of the work being created. We are passionate about all creative being produced for the business and are fast-paced, meaning freelancers must often step-up and take on more responsibilities for the ideas they are creating and the work they are producing.
The feedback from freelancers that have worked with The Mix reflects this, they love the projects we get them on and want to continue getting booked with us for extra work!
How has covid impacted in-housing?
The Mix has seen minimal disruption from COVID-19 as there has still been a demand for our products from consumers. Our in-house model is very fluid and we operate with a number of freelancers, meaning we can scale up and down depending on the demand of projects. We have also found that COVID has enabled us to work with a wider network of freelancers, those that might have been booked for long periods of time with larger agencies are now available to come and work with us, which has increased the quality of work we provide to the business.
What tips would you give to help make in housing successful?
Ensure you have a strong team of passionate people. All our permanent members of the team have come from agency backgrounds, which means they bring a strong work ethic, and the knowledge of what it takes to make a successful agency tick. We have also created an inspiring team culture that freelancers feel part of when they join. We don’t allow freelancers to feel separated and they are very much part of The Mix team.
We also still charge for our services, which helps the client put a monetary value on the work we provide. Although this rate is heavily subsidised (a saving on average of just over 60%) compared to an external agency as we aren’t working towards profit targets, it still makes The Mix accountable for the work we are producing.
With the report finding 57% of respondents currently have an in-house agency, while a further 17% are presently considering one, with marketers pursuing in-housing for reasons, such as cost efficiencies (30%), better integration (64%) and better brand knowledge (59%), is now the best time to start looking at an in-house model?
YunoJuno are my recruitment saviours! I’ve worked with them for a few years now and they’ve helped with many resourcing challenges. The platform is really easy to use, it provides a wide range of freelancers to interact with and also means I’m only dealing with one vendor – which makes my internal financing hassle free!
Steph Fair, Pernod Ricard UK