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Need Help? Just Ask: 5 Times In-House Agencies Turn to Partners

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The number of businesses turning their creative efforts in-house is on the rise. So why do so many of them continue to work with external agencies?

Despite the rise in businesses turning in-house, about 77% of them continue to work with external partners. While that might sound like an oxymoron, external support is hardly obsolete in this new landscape—rather, the business relationship has changed. From lowering costs to boosting engagement, global reach and turnaround time, there are plenty of reasons in-house agencies are looking outside for assistance.


They need digital expertise.

Last year, digital work accounted for more than half of U.S. agency revenue. Still, explosive growth of platforms and data can cause challenges for some internal teams trying to realize their creative ambitions digitally.

Imagine you’ve published some really awesome findings in a whitepaper. There’s some good stuff in there, particularly for a younger audience, but there’s a problem—young folks don’t typically have the patience to read through a whitepaper. That’s why Prudential turned to us to help reimagine their “80 Year-Old Millennial” study as an engaging, interactive digital aptitude test.

“Creating an experience enabled us to spark that thought in the minds of millennials in a much more impactful way than simply handing them the results of our study,” said Niharika Shah, VP and Head of Brand Marketing & Advertising at Prudential. In addition to the digital test, we built a 3D printing arm that constructed an explorable, 3D landscape of participants’ futures.


The tangible artifact ensured Prudential’s findings wouldn’t remain abstract in participants’ minds, helping to deliver on their need with cutting-edge technology.

They seek a global perspective.

A key challenge global brands face is tailoring their message to local audiences around the world. 67% of internal teams operate out of just one central location, making it tough to deliver upon local communities’ needs with a culturally relevant message. Organizations with global offices and talent can therefore provide some much-needed perspective when it comes to reaching audiences around the world.

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Few things unite the world like football, so when Adidas strove to build an ecommerce platform for designing custom team uniforms, their creative team required a partner who could understand the diverse global markets that enjoy the sport. Our one-stop platform opened first to European markets and is rolling out to others around the world—just one of many localized projects we’ve collaborated on with the brand.

They want to cut costs—but increase quality.

Cost is a big challenge businesses face, and is often what prompts them to go in-house in the first place: 46% of internal agencies mentioned reduced costs as one of their top benefits from working with an external support. But it’s important to brands that their partners don’t cut corners, as quality of work and adherence to brand standards are just as, if not more, important to an IHA.

One example of how internal agencies can attain better-quality work is by working with a partner that can take an integrated approach to production. This is a process and framework for developing dynamic content catered to several specific user personas, including local markets, at greater efficiency, allowing for increased relevance without complicating the production process. For example, we were able to quickly roll out email campaigns to 25 global markets in 15 different languages using this method for an Adidas campaign. It’s an approach that not every partner is equipped to take, showcasing how internal agencies can–and should–be discerning even when costs are a concern.

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They need good work—and fast.

Many businesses turn in-house so they can deliver on work more swiftly. That means anyone they work with must likewise have a fast turnaround time, particularly in the production phase of their campaign, which requires smart use of resources and technical know-how.

Made for Digital helped Hunkemöller cut costs in time and finances (but not cut corners) for their Bra Party campaign using an integrated production process. This allowed Hunkemöller to create 118 different deliverables for several platforms (TV, print, radio and social) with just one production budget and shoot. Because the campaign would go live across the world, Made for Digital included diverse sets and models to easily frame content across markets. As you can imagine, this approach doesn’t just involve production resources, but also some savvy scheduling.

They want extra advice or guidance.

One of the most important benefits that external partners can provide to internal teams is extensive experience on strategy, creative and production. While internal teams know their brands better than anyone, external support can provide an outside perspective that helps businesses free themselves from preconceived notions, diagnose any challenges they might face and help them better deliver on their audience expectation.

A good partner’s value extends beyond narrow requirements like simply reducing cost or production timelines. “Cost efficients are important for in-house agencies,” Wayne Barringer, director of creative services at the Boeing Co., told Adweek. “But they are not the silver bullet. Why? Because most external agencies aren’t chosen because they’re the cheapest—they have superpowers. We should emphasize our superpowers more.”

External agencies have experience and knowledge from working on a variety of projects across markets, industries and business units. Internal agencies can have a lot to gain from tapping into that breadth and scope of experience: a strategic organization can gauge your digital maturity, then find the right solutions that fit your needs. From there, an external agency can provide advice and leadership on how to grow that ecosystem.

It’s clear that internal agencies have their own strengths: a clear understanding of the brand, lowered operational costs, fast turnaround time and more. With external partnerships, these internal agencies can enhance the great work they do without slowing down production or adding significant cost. We Monks are all about helping others put their minds at ease, so that setup sounds good to us.


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