Key insights from our first Summit

At our first One-Day Summit, IHALC hosted 30 in-house leaders for a day of sharing, learning, and exploration of the key challenges they face. Patrick Burgoyne has some of the top takeaways


There were marker pens, flipcharts (of course) and lots and lots of coffee. It was challenging, inspiring, cathartic and a lot of fun. The first In-House Agency Leaders Club summit brought together almost 30 leaders from major brands for a day of connecting, supporting and sharing at House of St Barnabas in Soho.


The core part of the day was the round table sessions which took over the bulk of the morning and were led by WDC’s Nicky Russell, Tischa Jenkinson and John Owen and by Andrew Hall of Adobe Workfront, our partners for the day. We asked our attendees to choose between two tables discussing operational issues, both pre- and post- brief, and two more where we would discuss strategic issues such as culture, proving the value of an IHA to the business and how to maximise the competitive advantage of an IHA. After a break mid-morning, we asked groups to swap around so that they got the chance to explore all topics.

We covered a huge amount of ground but I just wanted to share some of the key insights from the day here:


We can’t assume that others in the business know about or understand the creative process and how creative people work. In-house leaders have a huge responsibility to help colleagues by explaining the creative process to them – how long things take, when and how changes can be made, how to give constructive feedback, what our various roles do. Without this, briefs can be inadequate and misdirected, timelines unrealistic, approvals chaotic and teams demoralised.

IHAs need a culture and identity

You may not go as far as branding your IHA with its own name (though that can certainly help) but in-house agencies benefit from being seen to be different from the rest of the business. A distinct physical space, a visual identity all help. Colleagues need to feel that when they are entering the agency space or engaging virtually with the agency, they are coming into an exciting, stimulating space with the promise of great ideas to solve their problems.

We need marketing ops as well as creative ops

so many of the challenges faced by IHAs come from a lack of co-ordination and organisation across the business. Just as creative operations people and processes are key to solving those issues within an IHA, so marketing operations functions are also needed in order to iron out issues from marketing colleagues and make the whole process run much smoother.

We don’t talk enough about the work

Our teams should be proud of the work they do and they should also understand why some projects were more successful than others. But in the often frenetic environment of an IHA, it’s difficult to carve out time to talk about the work, review it, celebrate it and learn from it. This is a key difference with external agencies which are much more focused in this area. Somehow, we need to find time to talk about the work more. We also need access to the data that will help us learn about the effect of our work – although this should be a key competitive advantage of an IHA, our discussions revealed that many IHAs don’t have this access. A ‘washing up’ process where each campaign or project is reviewed, both from a production point of view and a creative and effectiveness lens, helps drive standards and inspire and motivate teams.

The above are just a few pointers from a brilliant day. As well as our workshop sessions, we also had a great presentation from Sally Weavers and Jen Smith of Craft on Content Strategy (including a spirited debate on what ‘content’ actually is!) and TikTok Creative Lab ECD Tom Skinner came in to talk us through some great examples of the platform working with brands.



Thanks so much to everyone who came along and to our partners Adobe Workfront for their support.

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