It was the longest queue I had ever seen in a Starbucks. Long enough for me to admire the ornate ceiling and Google where it was from (Damascus if you’re asking). I texted this piece of information to Gavin who was waiting patiently for me upstairs.
“LOL :)” was the response.
Gavin is an interesting character with a wealth of experience on both sides of the fence. He spent a decade in various agencies (including Mediacom, Diffiniti (now iProspect) and MEC) before moving in-house to Gamesys via King.com and PKR. This makes him one of the most informed people on the subject and his views were fairly unequivocal. This was going to be a good’un.
I had a few questions up my sleeve and kicked off with a biggie. Is it easier to get ideas, projects or campaigns signed-off in-house?
“Absolutely, ” replies Gavin, explaining that the concept of sign-off has hardly existed in the in-house companies he has worked for. “It’s more of an adult environment where people are trusted with responsibility.” It’s more transparent in-house (and generally) with fewer obstacles (although it’s important at this point to remember that Gavin has always worked for digitally-driven companies).
“Everyone is heading for the same goals with the same focus, which makes it a really fun place to work, there’s less in terms of smoke and mirrors”. For Gavin, this results in a great and collaborative working culture – referencing away days and team lunches, and slightly more palatable working hours too. Here comes the but…
Moving in-house can be a gamble. One of the nice things about working in an agency is the buzz, the excitement, the atmosphere. Gavin explained this can often be lacking in-house with there being a reluctance to talk to each other and between teams.
There’s a split jury when it comes to whether agency schooled or in-house marketers are stronger when it comes to the crunch, so I put it to Gavin. “It all depends which agency or which company they’re coming from” he replies, neatly positioning himself onto the fence.
And this is the point – no two agencies and no two brands are the same; herein lies the gamble.Though Gavin’s current company is driven by an ethos and vision of the future, he has worked in-house where it was entirely ROI driven. Likewise there are positive and negative stories on the agency side.
So what’s the answer? Gavin was fairly unequivocal about this as well. “In my opinion, starting at an agency is best both personally and for your career. I think it’s a quicker way to learn and a chance for faster promotion – you’re then in a better position to decide whether you want to move in-house.”
Laden with answers and full of coffee I walked out into the busy street wondering whether the company I worked for shared my values. Then I remembered I work for Neil’s Recruitment Company – a shambles from start to finish, yep, I’d hit the jackpot.