- While many marketers are taking more of their advertising in-house, Reebok is bucking the trend.
- Reebok maintains small in-house PR, creative, and media teams, but needs external agencies to handle its big campaign work, its VP of marketing Melanie Boulden said.
- Boulden also explained how the company came to publish ads in Russia that suggested oral sex and that were later pulled.
A growing number of brands are opting to do their marketing themselves, a source of turmoil for traditional agencies. The Association of National Advertisers found that 78% of brands surveyed had some form of in-house agency.
Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, and Chobani are among marketers that are driving this trend, which is motivated by a desire for more control, transparency, and cost-saving.
Reebok is one marketer that is bucking the trend, though.
Since it’s a global company, Reebok relies on external agencies to ensure that its message is consistent across markets, said Melanie Boulden, Reebok’s VP of marketing.
While the sneaker company has small in-house PR, creative, and media teams, it lets its external agencies handle its big global campaigns. Adidas-owned Reebok just hired a Deutsch as its new agency of record. Venables Bell & Partners has been its AOR and will continue to work with Reebok through July.
“Sometimes you definitely have to localize content depending on where the market is, but you can still feed up to this overarching umbrella message in this overarching umbrella campaign,” she said. “And from a resource perspective and expertise perspective and just from an infrastructure perspective, Deutsch is the right partner to help us do that. And we do the same thing with media planning.
“And while I have a team of experts who are well-versed on product and marketing, it is great to have external partners in these various markets who are privy to the latest technologies and trends, and are really on the forefront of where marketing and digital marketing is going, and make sure that we continue to be a modern marketing organization,” Boulden continued.
Venables handled Reebok’s new campaign rolling out March 11 that positions Reebok as a lifestyle brand, unlike past marketing that emphasized Reebok as a tough fitness brand.
For most marketers, in-housing isn’t an all-or-nothing decision. Indeed, the ANA survey also found 90% of respondents still use agencies in one way or another.
Boulden said Reebok’s reliance on agencies was unrelated to a recent snafu that led it to pull ads in Russia.
Boulden said the mishap was unrelated to the company’s agency approach but rather a “breakdown in process.”
“It was the actual creation of it and then how it got through the system,” she said. “It wasn’t brought up or flagged appropriately. We’re a large organization and various markets have some autonomy to do some own work that’s relevant to their world. The most important thing is to learn from it and to make sure that you are putting the appropriate procedures, checks, and balances in place to mitigate something like this from happening again.”
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