Three joins the in-house agency club

Three: 'Your phone's seen a lot this year', by Wonderhood, was released in November 2020
Three: 'Your phone's seen a lot this year', by Wonderhood, was released in November 2020

Mobile operator will continue to work with Wonderhood on a retained basis.

Three, the mobile operator, is setting up an in-house agency as part of an effort to “re-energise” the brand.

The unit will be led by Nicole ter Horst, Three’s head of creative services, and Mat O’Brien, who joins as creative director.

O’Brien previously worked at VCCP PR shop Good Relations as senior creative director and most recently held the same role at C3 Code and Content.

Three currently works with Wonderhood Studios on advertising and the agency is supporting Three in this process. Work produced in-house will “complement” Wonderhood’s activity. 

Three is working with consultancy WDC to develop the structure of the in-house offering and recruit talent.   

The in-house division aims to draw on existing skills within Three in social media, digital and design, but also add capabilities in brand development and concept origination. It will also incorporate a production studio taking charge of photography, videography, motion graphics and print production. 

Wonderhood won the Three advertising account in July 2020, beating Mother and Uncommon Creative Studio in the pitch. Three had split with 10-year incumbent Wieden & Kennedy earlier that year. 

Ter Horst said: “We are drawing on WDC’s expertise to help us build something special: an in-house agency that is going to take our marketing effort to new heights. Mat’s role is going to be pivotal to that ambition. He has proven leadership skills, as well as a great creative track record and a passion for the brand, which made him the ideal candidate. We are thrilled to have him on board.”

Alex Best, Wonderhood’s chief operating officer, added: “Three’s new marcoms model is built for the future and will be the template for other brands looking to deliver strategic and creative excellence, along with the speed and agility essential for business today. The combination of both internal and external agency strengths will lead to bigger, better and more effective campaigns.”

A raft of brands have set up in-house creative units to better serve their needs. Most recently, Lloyds Banking Group established Beehive, which will handle regulatory communications, retail messaging and performance marketing, working alongside LBG’s existing roster of agencies. 

During an interview with Campaign about Beehive, LBG marketing chief Richard Warren sparked a debate in the ad industry when he said: “No-one can write in advertising agencies any more.”

M&S Food also launched an in-house creative team at the start of the year and changed Grey London’s remit to project work.

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