Attracting top talent among major concerns for in-house agency, study finds

The ANA has identified numerous challenges internal shop leaders are facing today.

Keeping teams energized and ability to attract top talent are among some of the major concerns by in-house agency management, according to a new ANA report.  

"Managing in-house agency creative content and legal concerns," a joint effort of 111 ANA members, the Boston Consulting Group and Reed Smith, also revealed those at the head of internal shops worry about the team applying key marketing processes and having a healthy creative tension.

A senior director of marketing for a footwear company said: "Getting high-quality people is very hard, as mid-level agency executives are well compensated, so going in-house often requires taking a lower salary and dealing with the monotony of company life, where you focus on fewer things."

Warren Chase, vice president and chief operations officer, 140, Verizon’s in-house agency, has said in the past that internal shops should provide a great draw for talent because more creative work designed actually gets produced owing to the team’s proximity to the business and leadership.

As part of this study, he said: "I believe that when working in-house, more work that is created internally gets produced at a rate that is much higher than at an external agency. The reason for that is the unique proximity the internal team has to the business, to insights, and to leadership. Therefore, the road for an idea to get sold is much shorter."

In-house agencies are addressing talent issues in a number of ways. Some have created a virtual team that helps attract talent in less competitive markets. This enables management to identify the right talent in the right location while also maintaining a competitive structure.

They’ve worked hard to emphasizing the attractiveness of the total compensation package during recruitment and are prepared to pay for specialized roles. Job security and working hours can be very attractive, especially when coupled with other benefits such as maternity/paternity leave, working remotely, etc.

Jack Teuber, creative leader at PWC, said: "There is strong talent, outside of the well-known creative hubs, that would welcome a big brand opportunity. 

"Bringing these individuals on board and allowing them to work virtually is a very practical way to address local talent shortages. In our case, we hire for talent exclusively, since location really doesn't come into play for PwC's virtual team."

ANA members say they’ve put in place a number of strategies to keep teams energized which include: having creative talent work with multiple internal stakeholders/brands to expose them to a fresh set of challenges; regularly highlighting the work teams are passionate about through employee showcases/mixers so employees can receive recognition and constructive input for their work and; challenging internal creative teams with stretch projects.

"It’s critical to find a balance where your processes do not stifle the creative process and become too cumbersome," said Jessica Cipolla-Tario, SVP advertising and content at MGM Resorts International. 

"It’s also important that your company celebrates and values the internal agency and the external agency equally; this helps the two teams work together and not compete."

In addition to the key creative content concerns that must be managed by an in-house agency, survey respondents were asked about how they manage 16 legal issues identified by the ANA and Reed Smith. 

The top four legal concerns were contracting with talent (appearing in advertising/commercials), trademark clearance, contracting with photographers, and SAG-AFTRA or other union issues.

This new report follows the 2018 ANA study "the continued rise of the in-house agency," which found that 78 percent of ANA members have an in-house agency.

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