Australia’s growing list of in-house agencies now have access to a connected community with the launch of the In-House Agency Council (IHAC) steered by founder and chairman CEO Chris Maxwell.
Established with the objective to help marketers maximise their in-house agencies by attracting the best talent, building capability along with benchmarking and sharing industry best practices, the IHAC will advocate for the in-house agency marketing model through activities including an IHAC annual awards series, a secondment program, masterclasses and networking events.
IHAC founding board members include Maxwell, Sportsbet general manager marketing Tim Hernadi, MYOB head of design, agency and brand Belinda Watson, Optus consumer marketing director Angela Greenwood, brand and marketing advisor Michael Sinclair, Carsales chief marketing officer Kellie Cordner and Newscorp managing director – commercial content Mike Connaghan.
IHAC members include Optus, Sportsbet, MYOB, lution, Carsales.com, Newscorp, Carlton United Breweries, Kantar, Australia Post, The Star Entertainment Group, Eucalyptus and Hawthorn Football Club.
Maxwell said leaders of in-house agencies in Australia have common objectives and challenges yet rarely connect to share on issues such as recruiting and retaining top talent, creative diversity, and ways of working.
“When I spoke with my peers in the industry it became apparent that there were shared challenges, shared opportunities and common themes.
“However, there was no forum for in-house agency leaders and teams to collaborate, share or learn from each other. This seemed like a missed opportunity, given businesses like Optus, CUB and Sportsbet exist in different categories but their in-house agencies are often operationally similar. Why not come together to share and learn from each other?”
Former marketing director at Carlton United Breweries and architect of CUB’s move to an in-house agency model, Maxwell has closely observed how agency in-housing can produce great work, improve efficiency, drive a culture of creativity and open up career opportunities for talent.
Sportsbet general manager marketing Tim Hernadi says: “I’m a big believer in the in-house agency model and have witnessed how powerful and dynamic it can be. With IHAC our aim is to develop capability and advocate for the model whilst building a community network that supports its members.
“We want to put in-housing at the forefront and to erase some of the old world stigma surrounding it by changing perceptions and demonstrating how in-house agencies enhance effectiveness, progress efficiency, promote ownership and positively impact culture.
“We’re investing our time and energy into enhancing the reputation of this model to see it grow and thrive.”
MYOB head of design, agency and brand Belinda Watson adds: “With the launch of the IHAC, we want all members to have access to the many benefits of a community that is generous in sharing its resources and knowledge.”
To encourage and build deeper shared knowledge and to promote active collaboration opportunities, the IHAC is divided up into four principle sub-committees. These include ‘Strategy & Creative’, ‘Media, Tech & Data’, ‘Production’ and ‘Accounts & Operations’.
IHAC members typically converge on a monthly basis to discuss relevant issues of the day. The council brings in experts to run masterclasses or external inspiration on a range of topics. The IHAC has launched a secondment program where members can arrange for their talent to gain some experience with another brand or business to broaden their knowledge and come back with a new set of skills. Regular events and a LinkedIn Group help members to further connect.
IHAC has formed a relationship with the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) based in the USA, which was founded in 2005 and has over 350 members. This gives IHAC members access to global best practices from industry peers in the US market.
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