Quarantine drove increased creativity for in-house teams


In-housing flourished in 2020, as the pandemic accelerated the need for marketing teams to achieve greater efficiency, collaboration and control over brand messaging. 

Many marketers were thrust into a remote working environment, not always an approach conducive to the collaborative nature of the creative job. But, in new research conducted with Digiday, surveying more than 200 senior marketers in Europe, 58% of brands say they saw increased creativity in their in-house teams during a time of quarantine.   

The very nature of in-housed teams enabled marketers to stay creative, 48% report increased team togetherness, and 47% experienced flexibility to pivot to different media. 

“COVID meant we had to change our plans for more than 40 brand partners across European markets almost overnight,” says Dries Mertens, director of DraftLine Europe, AB InBev’s in-house agency. “It wasn’t easy, but we delivered when our marketing teams needed us the most. Proximity to the business was a huge asset when we needed to quickly pivot.”  

In-house marketing teams are made up of many specialisms, from content creation to media buying, and brands in 2020 used workshops and technology to keep communication, cross-collaboration and creativity in a robust place across distributed team elements. The majority of our surveyed brands (66%) introduced or increased creative workshops, and 65% increased cross-team collaboration tasks.  

Michal Mironov, online marketing manager at O2 Slovakia, says: “I believe the global pandemic, in fact, significantly boosted our creativity as we started to invent many new activities, campaigns, features or even whole products which helped our customers to meet the challenge of the pandemic in better physical and mental shape. It forced us to go the extra mile as, at the same time, we also supported our usual business goals.”

Technology-enabled in-housing 

Technology empowered marketers to focus on the creative aspects of the job in a challenging year, and it drove innovation while powering collaboration that resulted in increased creativity. 

The data shows that technology has impacted in-house teams’ use of data, creativity and collaboration — 58% are using data more than ever before, 55% say creativity levels have been boosted and 54% are seeing greater collaboration. These steps helped bring down barriers to creativity, including challenges around organizational structure and time management. 

Other key drivers for moving digital marketing in-house include being able to give more time and attention given to the brand and being closer to the brand messaging. Looking at how these positive outcomes are achieved, technology is also a common factor. The new research shows that 51% of brands used tech-powered collaboration tactics to keep in-house teams motivated and inspired during the pandemic. 

In-housing will be an essential part of business in 2021 

As many businesses face the prospect of ongoing remote working environments in 2021 and beyond, in-housing is creating additional advantages. In our survey, 62% of respondents say in-housing will allow for efficient remote working, 59% say it will improve agency transparency, and 58% say it will save external costs. 

“The power of in-house teams is being closer to the core of the brand and ongoing creative excellence needs; hence it puts them in the prime spot to make more informed decisions and give better creative direction,” says James Rothwell, head of marketing, Europe, at TikTok. “In-housing also helps with quick turnaround times, especially for responsive brands pioneering relevancy and embedding itself in culture.”   

All of these aspects will prove vital elements of business strategies as we enter a second year of pandemic-fueled uncertainty and remote work. 

To download the full insights and analysis, including interviews with TikTok, AB InBev, Channel 4, Vodafone, Twitter, Telefonica and more, click here.


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