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In-housing Agency Models Boots

In-housing a ‘nightmare’ say a third of brand marketers


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

September 13, 2022 | 5 min read

A new study suggests the promise of in-housing has failed to materialize for many marketing leaders who now admit struggles in building a functioning department.

Collapsed house

Nightmare in-house: a third of CMOs say in-housing causes operational problems / Unsplash

Over a third of chief marketers say that bringing marketing, advertising and communications functions in-house is an “operational nightmare” and too hard for non-agency organizations to put in place.

A study of 150 chief marketing officers at companies with more than 250 staff found 43% of chief marketing officers thought in-housing was an operational headache, while 33% said it was too difficult to implement an in-house model. 39% of chief marketers said in-house marketing teams lacked inspiration.

Pete Markey has led the in-housing efforts at brands including TSB and Boots, where he currently serves as chief marketing officer.

“There’s a danger that the in-house model can become quite cookie-cutter,” he said.

“This lack of flexibility might not get the best out of our people or the way we operate. For me, the right answer is a hybrid combination of the way an agency works and the way a client works to find that solution.”

According to the survey, in-housing migraines grew more intense at bigger organizations. While 33% of chief marketers at companies with fewer than 500 staff concurred with the statement that ‘The existing in-house model results in an operational/managerial nightmare,’ more than half of the chief marketing officers at organizations with over 2,000 staff agreed.

The research was conducted by digital agency Collective. Strategy partner Chris Shadrick said that in-housing was “sure” to remain an option within the industry.

“But this report shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that clients are crying out for a more creative and less nightmarish model.”

Markey suggested that finding adequate staff was a major issue for marketers looking to build an in-house team. “In my experience, people don’t always want to come and work for an in-house studio – it’s not set up to be particularly exciting.

“The main challenges right now are getting the right talent in and making sure it’s attractive for them to stay. You need to create an environment that inspires people.”

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More than a quarter of the survey respondents backed him up; 27% said that staff retention, cost-effectiveness and the difficulty of attracting new hires were significant challenges facing their in-house operations.

Last September, Markey unveiled Boots’s own in-house media agency Boots Media Group. It provides a full-service media offering to suppliers of the retailer. “It’s central to our marketing strategy,” he told The Drum.

“If you look at what we want to do in connecting better with suppliers, and with our customers to build loyalty and affinity, this is a really important part of our marketing strategy and in what we’re planning to do over the next three years and beyond.”

In-housing Agency Models Boots

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