“every single client, without exception, is now looking at in-housing.”
—Sir Martin Sorrell
In an economy dubbed the “gig-economy” it’s surprising to see the tide turning back to Inhouse. I worked for much of my career as an Inhouse Designer, before helming my own destiny as a freelance designer, and now back as an Inhouse Creative. Having had a proper existence on both sides of the fence, each perspective can be myopic: On the one side, an Inhouse Designer can become stagnant and unwilling to risk. Alternatively, executive teams that work with the Inhouse Creative team can become wooden in allowing someone they are biased from working with to risk. Often times a relationship can mask itself as an understanding of that person’s job—as creatives we know all to well that because our work is seen, doesn’t mean the viewer understands the process that created it.
On the other side, though the hired vendor can approach their client with a curated presence, a crafted idea that has had the advantage of boundaries set on the volume of client input, and with the revelation of a presentation, do they really know the nuances of the industry, the company, and how best to communicate whatever the message is to whichever market they were tasked with?
What Sir Martin Sorrell and this AdWeek article highlights most are process that have been automated. Tasks that were once a nuanced, skilled, intuitive world. Much like the production of a layout used to involve camera work and knowledge of materials to yield a design and today now translate to the vast internal library of key commands, digitization is coming for many things. In another more stark example, the end of the recent documentary on Netflix, American Factory shows a clash of cultures among many things, but ultimately the investment in robotics proved more useful than the investment in people. However, creative thinking is still a few versions of AI away. That is where the value will lay for the seeable future, and whether that Agency can bring the creative value. Can intuit, can “read,” and be in touch with the demo/market/consumer and communicate that they possess and nurture that connection to whoever they pitch.