2021 In-House Agency of the Year
When COVID-19 hit, the in-house agency at PwC faced office closures and restrictions like everyone else. While other organizations were scrambling to go fully remote, this team was already operating in a virtual model with 123 employees across twenty-six states, five time zones and two countries. This enabled them to maintain continuity of work while focusing on innovations that helped PwC thrive through uncertain times.
A particular point of pride with this team is its ability to respond quickly to the real-time needs of the business. Five days after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, PwC launched its first wave of COVID-related thought leadership. The in-house agency seized opportunities to help clients bring clarity to ambiguity, completing over 8,000 projects—far more than the year before.
They amplified PwC’s digital presence by focusing on website modifications and social media graphics. They produced over 400 videos, even shipping video kits to clients and staff to facilitate the filming of high-end interviews—including a green screen shoot 3,000 miles away. PwC also doubled its number of podcasts. These accomplishments were made possible, in part, by introducing new software into their workstreams that allowed virtual productions to get up and running immediately.
With live events, conferences, tradeshows and recruitment on pause, the in-house agency had to rethink the definition of “experiential,” matching new virtual meeting and event platforms with traditional outreach. They were also responsive to the call for social change, designing PwC’s first Diversity & Inclusion Transparency Report which not only influenced the firm’s strategy but prompted the in-house agency to hold monthly diversity and inclusion discussions that brought them closer as a group.
In a year like no other, the in-house agency at PwC performed like no other—building trust and reputation, opening doors to innovation, and exceeding expectations while maintaining focus on the people who make it happen every day.
As the in-house agency for America’s largest health care company, the pandemic hit the team at CVS Health particularly hard.
CVS Pharmacy locations quickly became the nation’s premier COVID testing facilities and, ultimately, vaccination destinations. With new information from the CDC daily, this team was not only tasked with keeping its public updated with life-saving information but communicating real-time changes in CVS operations like waived testing fees, expanded telemedicine options, and prescription delivery services.
As the same time, the agency was managing changes of its own as a sizable portion of the company’s paid media (including national broadcast) transitioned in house. They dove headfirst into Zoom casting, remotely directed shoots, and orchestrated the delivery of camera and lighting packages with some team members having never shot a commercial. They also hired 27 new employees, finding innovative ways to recruit and onboard without ever meeting them in person.
By finding new ways to communicate, developing creative faster and more accurately, and taking on a whole new body of work, this in-house agency not only helped drive demand for over 29 million tests and 30 million life-saving vaccines (and counting), they effectively positioned CVS Health as a partner to help people get healthy and stay healthy.
When COVID-19 brought the global economy to its knees, Vanguard’s Red House Creative Agency didn’t exist. There were plans to transition away from creative services to an in-house agency, but that was still in its early days. Early enough that when the pandemic hit, they questioned the merits of such an ambitious change amidst such chaos and uncertainty.
Today, Red House looks back on its journey with pride. Not only were they able to take their creative advertising support from 100% external to 100% internal in six months, they did it all virtually with employees who never met in person working together to craft processes that helped the team thrive.
They merged account functions to form a creative strategy team, streamlining steps to produce high-impact work. They aligned UX and design, benefiting their content with robust UI and testing. They established a new studio capability for in-house production, video and motion graphics. All of this netted Vanguard a 90% reduction in agency production costs, millions saved bringing web redesign in house, and a 25% increase in talent utilization with output climbing by 4-5% monthly.
Returning to the office, this powerhouse team is confident that their passion, resourcefulness and flexibility will serve them well when the game changes yet again.