Michael Heusner
Jan 16, 2020

'Creativity should not be in-housed,' stresses Diageo SVP

'I don't think very creative people want to work for a massive corporation.'

(L to R): Campaign US' Oliver McAteer, OkCupid's Melissa Hobley, Diageo's Sophie Kelly and Mitchell Caplan of Flock Associates
(L to R): Campaign US' Oliver McAteer, OkCupid's Melissa Hobley, Diageo's Sophie Kelly and Mitchell Caplan of Flock Associates

Creativity should not be in-housed, says to Sophie Kelly, SVP North America Whiskey, Diageo, pushing back against discussion surrounding marketers going it alone.

Speaking at Campaign’s, Breakfast Briefing: The Year Ahead: Change and Grow 2020 in New York City on Wednesday, Kelly explained why she thinks that good creative work has to come from an industry whose sole mission is to be as creative as possible.

"I don’t think very creative people want to work for a massive corporation," she said.

"I do not think creativity should be in-housed, and I get criticized for this internally, but if the notion of creativity is shaping the future and accessing amazing minds who bring different perspectives, you can’t possibly resource for that if you want to in-house it. You have to partner for that.

"And I’m not talking about in-house media or paid social, I’m, talking about creativity, and accessing an industry that is so vast and so diverse that is experimenting all the time. The creative industry is built to experiment."

Mitchell Caplan U.S. managing director at Flock Associates agreed for the most part, with one caveat.

He said: "There’s nothing wrong with in-housing if you have folks with a focused remit, around what they think they can do in-house. But there are certain things you can do, and certain things you can’t."

Melissa Hobley, global chief marketing officer at OkCupid, said she holds the brand's agency circle to high standards when it comes to creativity and getting inspiration from them. Hobley stressed agency partners must walk the walk not only for creativity, but an array of important practices including parental leave and other initiatives which are living and breathing examples of a powerful commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality.

"For us at Match Group, the culture of our agency partners is very important," she said.

"We’re asking them all sorts of questions: What is your maternity policy? How do you support working families? It's BS that more on the agency side aren’t doing a better job on this."

Similarly, Kelly highlighted the importance of integrating creative partners within the core business process.

"We’re not outsourcing creativity, we should be in the middle of it," she said. "We are openly communicating with our agencies about diverse teams and are bringing the outside in. We demand diverse and creative talent from our agencies."

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