New council for in-house agency marketers launches to foster development

The in-house agency community of Australia has a new council for participants to collaborate through, formulated at a Mumbrella event in late 2019.

The In-House Agency Council (IHAC) has been conceived by Lution CEO and former CUB marketer, Chris Maxwell, brand and marketing advisor Michael Sinclair and Carsales chief marketing officer Kellie Cordner, all of whom now sit on the board.

IHAC founder and chairman, Maxwell, said the objective of the council was to help marketers maximise their in-house agencies by attracting the best talent, building capability, benchmarking and sharing industry best practices and to act as an advocate for the in-house agency marketing model.

“The fact that we have been able to come together to do this, and that it will be a contributor to the industry in Australia, is something that I’m really proud of,”  Maxwell told Mumbrella.

Chris Maxwell

The IHAC will advocate for the in-house agency marketing model through activities including an annual awards series, a secondment program, masterclasses and networking events.

Other IHAC founding board members include News Corp managing director – commercial content Mike Connaghan, Optus consumer marketing director Angela Greenwood, Sportsbet general manager marketing Tim Hernadi and MYOB head of design, agency and brand Belinda Watson.

Council members include Australia Post, CUB (Carlton United Breweries), Eucalyptus, Hawthorn Football Club, Kantar and The Star Entertainment Group.

The IHAC is divided up into four principle sub-committees: ‘Strategy & Creative’, ‘Media, Tech & Data’, ‘Production’ and ‘Accounts & Operations’.

Members typically converge on a monthly basis to discuss relevant issues. The council also brings in experts to run masterclasses or external inspiration on a range of topics.

“We have conversations about those benefits and negative aspects in a very open environment which is not available anywhere else,” said Sinclair. “The knowledge sharing and pilot projects and talent exchange is going to have a very big impact on marketing and advertising practices in Australia over the next five to ten years.”

The IHAC has launched a secondment program whereby members can arrange for their talent to gain some experience with another brand or business to broaden their knowledge and come back with new skills.

Kellie Cordner

“We are a firm believer that the in-house model is a great thing for collaboration, ideation and innovation,” Cordner told Mumbrella.

“We have always done some elements in-house, digital is in-house, our content or editorial arm is in-house. Recently we have embarked on all our design being in-house.

“For us to be learning from the path that others have created, helps us perhaps not make some of the same mistakes, or to know what to look out for.

“We are a hybrid with an appetite to be fully-in-house, but recognise as you are starting that you need to create the groundswell with all staff that it is something that they want to be part of.”

Maxwell added that in his experience at CUB, the unexpected benefit of having creative people inside a corporate environment is that it builds a creative culture amongst the marketing team.

“Having that shape of person in the marketing team, it really opened up our team’s eyes to what can be,” he said. “Because in the past, creativity was the purview of the external agencies.”

Michael Sinclair

According to Sinclair, the in-house agency model was being increasingly explored by organisations for different reasons such as costs and efficient allocation of work.

“Companies are looking at it because they need to grapple with types of work that are not efficient to be managed externally anymore.

“It makes you think clearly on what you need external expertise for, versus what you can do in-house.”

The IHAC has also formed a relationship with the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) based in the USA, which was founded in 2005 and has over 350 members, providing access to best practices from industry peers in the US market.


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