The Rise of In-House Marketing

A picture split in two depicting a marketing team sitting around a table and two laptops on the other side asking whether marketing should be done in-house or by an agency.
Companies are recognizing the importance of bringing marketing in-house. Source: Google Images.

Many top brands have begun to rethink their strategies. Instead of relying on outside agencies, brands are hiring creative advertisers in-house. However, some companies may argue that in-house marketing or advertising should not occur because of the inability of some companies marketing departments to stay current, creative, and innovative. Creative content is increasingly going viral and becoming an integral part of brand’s identities, therefore, the need for in-house marketing is increasing.

Digital technology and access to big data has changed how companies are marketing to consumers. In the past year, based on an article by HBR, there has been a dramatic increase, from 27 percent to 13 percent, in the number of companies who no longer outsource to marketing agencies. There are several reasons for marketing moving in-house, which include inability of larger ad agencies to keep up with the speed of technology in the digital space, the speed in which agencies adjust to fast-changing industry needs, companies desire to own their own data, and companies seeking the best digital marketing talent.

General Electric recently hired its first Chief Creative Officer, Andy Goldberg, who runs GE’s Creative Lab, where marketers can experiment with new media projects. The reasoning behind GE creating the Creative Lab was not only to place more emphasis on creative works but also on producing stronger brand cohesion. For GE, a complex business with a lot of differing segments and storylines, it was imperative to try and encapsulate all of what GE does into a single story through moving marketing in-house.

Another company who also hired a Chief Creative Officer is General Mills. Instead of having the marketing department head brand strategy, Mark Addicks, the C.O.O, was hired to not only oversee brand strategy but also strategic planning and creative development at General Mills. General Mills acknowledged, though Addicks, that “A great creative idea strategically communicated to the right audience at the right time and place is critical to success in today’s dynamic, multi-channel world.” As General Mills is the 44th largest advertiser in the U.S., spending over $890 million last year in advertising, it is crucial for the company to remain innovative and creative.

Although many companies still outsource their advertising and marketing, companies are seeing the advantages to moving everything internally. Companies want to leverage social media, content marketing, and integrate models. However, there are not numerous agencies that want to do everything that large companies are seeking. The digital competency at big agencies is not adequate for companies because these agencies generally provide formulaic cookie-cutter approaches that do not fit individual company needs.

Brands are now recognizing the need to become more intimate with their customers, to be directly involved with their own marketing. Companies are looking at different models and ways of handling their marketing in a complex multi-channel, digital environment. The outsourced marketing activities of companies have been too slow to respond to the fast pace digital environment and in-house advertisement allows companies to use more creative independence.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you think marketing should be done in-house? Why or Why not?
  • Research other companies that have Chief Creative Officers. What are their roles within the company?
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages for companies using advertising agencies?