Cannes Lions 2019: Will in-house creativity fail?

Justin Emingsley, Paulie Dery, Teresa Herd, Vicky Maguire, and Philips Thomas debate

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Jun 21, 2019 7:53 AM

The session began with Philips Thomas, Chairman, Cannes Lions, calling for a vote on whether the audience thinks in-house creativity will fail, and more than 54% said no, it won’t. And that became the premise for the discussion between Justin Emingsley, CEO, Publicis Emil; Paulie Dery, ECD, Uber; Teresa Herd, Former VP, Global Creative Director, Intel Corporation; Vicky Maguire, Chief Creative Officer, Grey London; and Philips Thomas.

Starting the discussion, Emingsley said, "54% of the people here are misinformed because creativity thrives only when the following three things exist – talent, which gets attracted by talent; Diversity, which needs scale, and tension between people protecting the creative idea and those buying them.”

Disagreeing with him, Dery said, "In-house creativity is not some new phenomenon. Our industry is obsessed with disruption, but not within. In-house ad agencies are that disruption. It is a result of agencies not getting their act in order.”

Presenting a different point, Herd said, "If not properly set up, in-house agencies will fail, and so will companies who don’t understand why exactly they are doing it. It cannot only be about saving money.”

Maguire said, "I need to be stretched to make me a better creative. I need to have all breadths of thoughts which an in-house agency may not be able to provide. In-house agencies are popular only because agencies are not doing enough for the client. It is a wake-up call of sorts because agencies are perhaps doing work which is mind numbingly average which makes the client think he can do better himself."

Another argument against the in-house agency trend was the controversial case of Pepsi's in-house agency that created a messaging which the agency got a lot of flak for.  Eminglsey said, "If the captain of the ship is crashing the plane, his subordinates would much rather let him crash the plane than tell him in as many words that he is wrong. It is similar with in-house agencies."

Maguire added, "Even the Pepsi example tells me that the team was afraid to say ‘No’ to the decision maker which won’t happen in an ad agency."

Concluding his argument, Dery said, "The Pepsi example is overhyped. In-house agencies are getting really talented people. One won’t stop being creative just because he/she is on the client's side. In fact there, you are getting to create an even bigger impact by being on the client's side."

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