In-House is the fun-house

Which brands are having the most fun right now and what do they have in common?

Bear with me on this, but could one of the great unappreciated advantages of working in-house be that you actually get to have fun? Granted that may not always be the case, particularly if you are working for a highly-regulated business that doesn’t allow a lot of latitude.

But which are the brands out there right now that are having the most fun with their advertising? How about Oatly? Consistently daring, funny and attention-grabbing. And all done in-house.


And is anyone having more fun with its work than The Agency at Specsavers? Not just the ‘Should’ve’ campaign, brilliant though that is, but it’s Valentine’s Day Kiss Clash campaign (complete with a YouTube guide to kissing) was wonderful.



Not to mention the bonkers, runaway success of Liquid Death Mountain Water. It’s just water in a can but thanks to a brand and tone of voice that’s more Black Sabbath than Badoit, it’s achieved cult-like status and a $700m valuation. And again, all done in-house. In fact. We’ll be finding out how it was done on our next In-House Life online session with VP Creative Andy Pearson (you can register to attend here).



Here’s Andy explaining the brand’s approach to Creative Review: “All we try and do is make a great piece of entertainment and put it out into the world. Our whole thing is to win the internet for the day, and make the best thing someone is going to see that day.”

And talking of Creative Review, it’s running a series of articles on in-house this month (I contributed a piece about our IHALC Manifesto here). One of them is an interview with Oliver CCO Rod Sobral, who first became a convert to the potential of in-house when he was leading the Beats by Dr Dre account for R/GA and effectively needed up embedded with the client. Rod makes a powerful case for creativity in-house, arguing that “It’s not a trend anymore, it’s become the mainstream. In-house is the next revolution and guess what, no-one is doing that to do dull work – they’re doing that because they want to do better work. I can’t see any brand owner or business investing in that if it’s not to drive better quality.”

Now this isn’t to say that external agencies are devoid of fun or fun work (though by all accounts it’s a whole lot less fun that it used to be). But in-house teams who achieve some of those essentials that we outline in the Manifesto – building trust, proving their worth, being politely rebellious and being, yes, fun to work with – can then use their proximity, their ability to spot opportunities and the relationships they have built to create work that can bypass the filters and layers that stymie so many of the edgier ideas coming from external teams.



Think of Sips & Bites’ gloriously ridiculous World’s Biggest Wotsit. That came out of ECD Matt Watson being close enough to the brand team to propose a crazy idea that would need the collaboration of the Walkers factory to get made. As he told us, “This is the thing about where we sit within our business – we can go to the factories, we can create new flavours, we can innovate, we can work with people to change the product. This idea just came up on a Zoom call – what if we created the world’s biggest Wotsit? The client was just ‘like let’s do it. I’ll call the factory tomorrow’. We can leverage our position in the business to make these ideas a reality.”

So yes, being in-house means that you can be incredibly effective for the business, drive sales, reduce costs and all those essential things. But it also means that you can get to play with your brands in a way that external agencies are finding increasingly difficult. And it’s not just the preserve of start-ups like Oatly or Liquid Death.

So bring on the fun, and don’t forget to show us what you’re doing so that we can feature it on our Showcase page!

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