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2021 In-House Creative Industry Report Finds Creative Teams Adaptable and Well Positioned for Today's New Normal

Eleventh Annual Report Provides Benchmark and Five-Year Trends for In-House Marketing, Creative and Digital Workforce

April 20, 2021

ROCKVILLE, Md. April 20, 2021 -- The agility of in-house creative teams positioned them to succeed in 2020, according to a new report from Cella, a nationwide staffing, consulting and managed solutions firm. The 11th annual In-House Creative Industry Report found that work volume grew for 70% of teams specifically in support of digital design and social media deliverables, and that 67% of teams stayed the same size or grew over the past year. While the creative industry was not immune to contraction, attrition was very close to year-over-year standards.  Creative teams within heavily impacted industries (hospitality, oil and gas, sports and leisure) experienced more aggressive attrition.

“Cella’s In-House Creative Industry Report is the benchmarking standard for leaders of in-house creative agencies and teams seeking validation and direction on managing a more effective in-house agency,” said Jackie Schaffer, Executive Vice President, Cella. “COVID changed the way we all work substantially, and during this time many companies doubled down on their in-house agency investments seeking support in communicating COVID-19 response efforts and executing reset marketing plans. Quality, timeliness, cost, adaptability, innovation — all attributes of the in-house creative community -- provided a foundation that proved resilient. We are incredibly excited by the in-house creative industry’s success in 2020—what we’ve been working toward was achieved. Companies needed us, and we were prepared. ”

Cella surveyed nearly 400 leaders from creative teams and in-house agencies in January 2021 to understand the long-term trends that impact the creative industry the most, provide a benchmark to identify organizational gaps and identify solutions, and also look at the impact that COVID-19 has had. These leaders represent Fortune 500 companies, as well as middle-market and not-for- profit organizations spanning multiple industries including, but not limited to, banking/financial services, consumer products, healthcare, manufacturing, oil and gas, technology and software, and travel and hospitality.

Five-Year Trends

The Cella report also provided an opportunity to look at the macro trends that have affected in-house creative teams over the past five years. These include:

  • Reporting structures: More companies are organizing in a way that aligns in-house agencies with key marketing and communications strategies. Since 2016, the percentage of in-house agencies reporting to Marketing and Communications groups has grown 15%.
  • Team size and geography: One out of every four teams is now comprised of more than 30 staff members compared to just 7% in 2016. As teams have grown, so has the prevalence of dedicated operations roles from 46% in 2016 to 59% in 2020. In 2016, just 8% of in-house agencies had locations in and outside of the U.S. That number has increased to 13% primarily to support local business partners.
  • Service offerings: 70% of in-house agencies now offer video production services compared to 60%.  In 2016, almost 30% of teams created videos primarily for internal audiences. Just five years later, this dropped to 11%.
  • Technology: The use of digital asset management systems has increased substantially from just under 50% of teams (49%) in 2016 to 64% today. The adoption of project management systems also improved substantially. In 2016, 67% used a system. Today, almost 9 out of 10 are utilizing project management software.

“As we look to the next phase of the in-house agency, we see walls coming down,” added Schaffer. “In this year’s survey we reset the spectrum of in-house agencies. It’s no longer ‘order taker’ to ‘strategic partner.’ Our ultimate goal is for in-house agencies to be integrated growth marketing partners. Today only 9% of us are there, but nearly three quarters of our creative teams are either regularly included in planning and Tier 1 products or are working on a growing base of strategic, high-level projects. The industry has advanced, and we have reset the bar on where we want to be.”

The full report is available for download here. A webinar, hosted by Jackie Schaffer, Executive Vice President and Sophy Regelous, Vice President and Managing Director, Consulting, Cella, also provides additional analysis and takeaways here.

About Cella
Cella is an award-winning leader in consulting, staffing and managed solutions for creative, marketing, digital and proposal development teams. We help people build meaningful careers and partner with companies to help them win. Our secret sauce? The Cella Trifecta: we have the right people, we understand our clients and we deliver results. Success requires a partner who offers all three. Together, we put passion to work. Cella is the only creative staffing firm to win the Best of Staffing® Client and Talent Awards for over a decade and is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. For more information, please visit cellainc.com or contact info@cellainc.com.