Don’t go in-house go Greenhouse

Too often, tough times bring fear. A fear of doing what needs to be done in order to make it through, a fear of challenging the bottom liners, a fear of sticking with a winning formula that has hit a slight hiccup. That’s right, the only fear that doesn’t exist during hard times is the fear of change. Changing, you see, is very different to adapting. Change is what companies do when profits dip slightly. Change is what clients do when performance doesn’t reach previous peaks. Adaption is what brave, forward thinking brands do when they realise different market conditions call for a new strategy, not a new start.

Clients are quick to make sweeping changes when the bottom line starts to suffer, rather than working with their agency to adapt their existing strategy. It’s easy for a board of directors to forget the backslapping and fist bumping that followed a year of exponential fiscal growth, thanks to an effective campaign built around a big idea and a clever, creative strategy. When this amnesia sets in, as it has done with major companies all around South Africa during the last couple of years, the reaction has been to take all creative work in-house.

Agencies don’t produce work, they produce growth… 

Unfortunately, when you cut out agency cost, you cut out agency thinking, which is far more valuable than agency computers, designers or writers. In fact it’s really what you’re paying for, if your agency is any good. Going in-house doesn’t solve problems; in fact it provides an environment for a cancer to grow, a cancer of stagnant work. Without fresh ideas the work never moves forward, it grows from average to bad, and soon brands are producing catalogues and flyers that disappear into the market noise around them. Agencies don’t produce work, they produce growth by developing fresh ideas that are responsive to changing markets and attitudes.

Removing this element from brand messaging removes your brand from the minds of consumers. Good creative work comes out of being pushed and challenged, by sticking with the agency model when times are hard you’ll see the best work being produced for your brand. To emerge high and dry from the economic storm brands need to be brave, they need to trust their agency and they need to sign-off on risky creative work.