2023 Winners

2023 In-House Agency of the Year

Tonic by Highmark Health

Some might say it’s daunting, even foolhardy, to attempt to transform a healthcare company into a lifestyle brand. For Tonic, the internal agency at Highmark Health, the corporate brand transformation began with a transformation of the in-house team itself—not only producing award-winning work but changing how they were perceived and operated.

Starting with the evolution of its Highmark Because Life platform, Tonic not only bolstered the campaign with broadcast, print and social, they took Highmark Health’s sonic identity to the next level with high-performing Pandora placements, totaling over 30MM impressions. They also created a mobile audio tile which performed 99% above benchmark.

From sporting events and days in the park to Western New York Pride and Pittsburgh’s Juneteenth Freedom Day, their community outreach efforts enabled 18 brand activations reaching over 120,000 people and garnering 9.3% engagement. Tonic also supported Highmark Health’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, expanding its reach while engaging a broader audience.

Expanding its production capability, they hired videographers, motion designers, and digital designers. And they integrated their internal media team, which had a profound impact. With all essential workgroups now working more closely together, cross-functional strategies, idea exchanges, and shared communication became the new norm.

And that’s not all. Tonic celebrated some remarkable achievements that helped make them a sought-after destination for top talent. They formed an entirely new pod to handle diversified business groups. They built an incubator team to meld creativity and technology. And they won some impressive awards including a D&AD pencil, a Clio, and a wheelbarrow full of Addys and IHAF trophies, to name a few.

Over the course of a year, Tonic made significant strides, reinforced by a 6% jump among consumers who perceive Highmark to be a brand that inspires them to focus on health. A lifestyle brand, indeed.


Rebel Fish NCL in-house agency

Norwegian Cruise Line

What do you get when you assemble a group of ambitious thinkers from around the globe and empower them to form an in-house agency and define a brand? You get Rebel Fish Creative Group, the agency of record at Norwegian Cruise Line.

Rebel Fish not only exhibits an abundance of passion and talent but also the kind of compassion and enthusiasm that can lift an entire organization.

In 2022, they held the first Global Creative Summit, showcasing their skills, insights, and new Rebel Fish brand. Having established a reputation as a well-oiled machine, they built trust by opening lines of communication, focusing on long-term relationships, and striving to become true extensions of each department.

Their tactical OOH content routinely drives bookings in new markets for an additional 125,000 web visits per quarter, with an 11.3% increase in Q4 bookings versus 8.1% in other markets. And, Rebel Fish’s Military Appreciation Program has resulted in over 130,000 booked guests. Simply put, their work works.

Being a global in-house agency gives Rebel Fish the advantage of working across five different time zones. Through adaptability and resource optimization, they have improved efficiency, enhanced client satisfaction, and elevated productivity by 25% year over year.

team photo of PepsiCo in-house agency


PepsiCo’s 65-person Content Studio functions as an extension of the company’s 20+ beverage brand teams. As thought partners, the Content Studio helps brand teams and external agencies innovate and elevate creativity through diverse perspectives. They believe in “collaboration without ego,” because they know that the most authentic creative ideas can come from anywhere.

Flexing their full suite of capabilities to produce work that fuels the business, the in-house agency has had an unequivocal impact, leading to many “firsts” for PepsiCo including two films selected by the Tribeca Film Festival!

They also produced spots and accompanying social content that ignited global conversations and achieved viral status, including a single spot that generated 10B+ earned-media impressions, increasing purchase intent by 54% and lifting brand favorability +41%.

Additional spots built ownable brand equity during the holiday season and unmatched success on TikTok, increasing follower count by 62% and social engagement by 111%. And the TVCs and digital content they produced were half the cost of external providers.

Their “collaboration without ego” mindset also inspired two programs at PepsiCo—one arming marketers with practical tools and knowledge to up their creative game and another breaking down macro-cultural trends to help spark big ideas.