As its leadership restructure sees a drop in staff numbers, its in-house agency is on the rise. Berglund says it’s because the company is able to be more agile and can respond to the market faster with one reason being Waecker sitting opposite him.
“Conversation with the CMO team is fluid and agile, ideas are far more adaptable to the situation and reactive to the moment unlike with an agency when you have to schedule a meeting, see if the creatives are available and then chase the client.”
The need is particularly relevant in the age of social media, Berglund adds, when brands need to get to things quickly.
Air New Zealand was one of the first New Zealand companies to look at a new way of working at the pace the modern marketing landscape demands. Senior manager of content strategy and creative services Maria Ryan-Young says it’s been building up capability for years. Its global brand in-house content team supports domestic and international brand marketing campaigns, and the main design resource supports the wider business at Air New Zealand.
She says it started six years ago, when Air New Zealand made the commitment to bring design services in-house to support the varied needs of its business, with what was then predominantly product design and print collateral design and production. Ryan-Young says it in-housed everything from in-house communication tools, training manuals, signage and event design.
More recently, in the last two years, it’s continued to expand those services to include in- house video and photographic expertise, digital capabilities and specialist producer expertise.
Within the Content Hub–the in-house creative services team–there’s a full-time team of 15, plus contract resource that supports as the workload requires (this includes additional design, creative concepting, video direction and production).
She says other teams also support the creation and production of content for owned digital channels, retail sales advertising and its AirPoints programme.
Ryan-Young says there are multiple reasons for bringing it in-house and one of those, like The Warehouse Group, is the ability to be nimble.
She says there are multiple efficiencies in terms of timeliness, cost saving and being able to tap into the inside knowledge of its team for guidance on content production.
Looking at Air New Zealand’s FY2018 results released 23 August, it achieved its second highest profit of $540 million, an increase from the prior year’s result of $527 million. It had a record operating revenue of $5.5 billion, up 7.4 percent.
Looking at sales and marketing, under operating expenditure, it increased to $357 million in the year ending 30 June 2018 after spending $352 million in the year ending 30 June 2017.
As well as efficiencies, the internal team aids the single vision for how the Air New Zealand brand shows up globally across hundreds, if not thousands, of customer touchpoints every day.
“Having one team internally supporting the breadth of our business with how our brand architecture and expression are represented ensures consistency – as we are typically the ones doing much of the design,” says Ryan-Young.
An example of what it’s capable of is the ‘#crazyaboutrugby’ superfan video that launched on Facebook in August. It was concepted the week prior, shot by the in-house team, edited overnight by a production company partner, and on social within 12 hours of finishing filming.
Days later, the video had attracted hundreds of comments from people sharing the names of their rugby superfans who would be keen to see an All Blacks game.
However, like all work, in-house or agency-produced, there’s a chance it could go wrong. Last year when Pepsi pulled an ad featuring Kendall Jenner, it drew criticism of the in-house method.
Pepsi’s in-house shop came under fire for producing an ad trivialising demonstrations aimed at tackling social causes by remedying the situation with a can of Pepsi.
Many believed the ad could have benefitted from some external perspective, with one Reddit thread including the comment: "In-house creative directors are jaded, tired old-timers who simply want to get paid and go home."
When asked if there’s a challenge of creatives being too close to the company when they are in-house, Ryan-Young says: “We are constantly looking outside our category and offshore and exposing the team to that inspiration. We have the benefit of being able to travel, to have great partners in our network from whom we draw insights, trends and creativity.”
In the past, she says working client-side in a design or creative role may have appeared a little tame, but in fact, now those roles offer an incredible amount of scope, challenge and reward.
“Bringing more of that creativity in-house ensures the team is fully invested in the brand’s success.”
Air New Zealand still works closely with its creative and design agency partners that bring new thinking and concepts to the brief. These include True, Host/Havas, Designworks, lead production partner Exposure, and FCB – which works with the brand’s New Zealand market development team.
Ryan-Young says it matches the project to the right creative and production solution – so for some projects, it may tap partners for some parts of the project journey – be it creative strategy, concepting, or production. But every project involves the in- house team to some degree.