Citi has quietly been building an in-house creative agency

Citi's Jennifer Breithaupt is leading the charge

Citi has spent the last year shaping an in-house creative agency designed to speed up communication between its agencies and internal stakeholders.

Kwan Yim, director and head of global agency management at the financial brand, said Citi wants its in-house team to act as "a creative center of excellence" that will lead to greater brand consistency across its various channels.

Peter Viento, previously executive creative director at Grey, was hired as head of creative services in June. However, it’s currently unclear how big the function will grow to be, or what exact aspects of Citi’s creative marketing will be taken in-house.

“It's been a journey and I would say we're in the process of defining what that will look like,” said Yim.

“Just because we have this one operating model for an in-house today doesn't mean that's going to the same next year or the following year ... we have to be agile and be able to pivot at any given point."

However, the news should not strike the death knell for the brand’s agencies. The internal consumer marketing team has reassured them the brand is highly unlikely to stop working with external partners, acknowledging it does not have the scale, technology or “certain capabilities” to bring absolutely everything in-house.

“Given the ever-changing nature of the industry and the need to consistently evolve to remain relevant with consumers, we wanted an in-house team that could above all lead our go-to-market creative strategy,” said Yim.

“As part of that, the team works with both our internal stakeholders, and in conjunction with the broader marketing team, our agency partners, in order to develop all creative assets.”

Citi declined to state which agencies are currently on its roster. Last year, its global consumer chief marketing officer, Jennifer Breithaupt, told CNBC the company was still working with Publicis, the group it handed its global media business to in 2015.

Yim explained Breithaupt was the driving force behind the development of the in-house creative unit.

“She believes in centralizing creative leadership,” he said. “That's really one of the reasons why we have an in-house creative agency – so that we have one way, one approach, one brand that's going out to the consumer, regardless of [channel].”

He added: “So far, [the set-up] has enabled us to transfer feedback [between internal stakeholders and agency partners] in a much more expedient manner, ensure greater consistency and adherence to brand standards and operate at a faster pace.”

Yim originally spoke at The Drum's Agency Acceleration Day

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