Prudential’s VP Marketing on the Benefits of its In-House Agency

Posted on by Patty Odell

It was 20 years ago when Prudential Financial began to put together its in-house agency. Now, there are more than 75 marketers on the team that keep an eye on emerging trends like virtual reality, and pump out integrated campaigns incorporating content marketing, influencers and social marketing across its vast portfolio.

in-house agency
Niharika Shah, vice president and head of brand marketing and advertising at Prudential Financial

The woman who manages it all is Niharika Shah, vice president and head of brand marketing and advertising. Here, she talks with CMO.com about the agency’s role and how the initiative to create an in-house agency came to be.

The agency has evolved over the years from the initial effort to consolidate media buying to provide strategy and planning functions, creative and other capabilities. Prudential also has an agency of record, Droga5, and Shah explains how to the two teams work together.

Businesses across the globe have—and are—creating in-house agencies as a way to cut costs. A few examples include Coca-Cola, Best Buy and Fidelity Investments. There are multiple benefits to an in-house agency.

• Lower costs, including no overtime
• A deeper understanding and history of the business or products being marketed
• The in-house team is solely dedicated to its client, unlike agencies which split their time among multiple clients
• Job security for employees—people working for agencies are hired and fired based on account wins and losses

Small businesses are also turning in-house. King’s Hawaiian several years ago was working with a small team and not much budget. It shuns the traditional agency model and strikes out largely on his own, developing relationships directly with partners.

“We work directly with the properties to minimize non-working media dollars. You can cut out a lot of fees that way and it’s not hard to do. You just have to make relationships,” says Erick Dickens, vice president of marketing at King’s Hawaiian.

Even so, he does work with an agency … of sorts.

“I do have an agency. It’s a guy. A former CCO at McCann Erikson LA,” he says.

For Prudential, Shah also talks about other benefits of an in-house agency and addresses the team’s skill sets, its ability to be agile and its greatest piece of work yet. Read the article …

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