Past Winners

2014 In-House Agency of the Year

TIAA-CREF Financial Services


In late 2012, TIAA-CREF Creative Services took a hard look at its organization. Its full-time employees (FTEs) barely outnumbered it contractors. External agencies numbered more than 50. Work wasn’t brand strong, budget wasn’t effective, and big change was needed. So an ambitious plan was born: “Creative Services Transformation.”

By early 2013, the leadership team had set out to build a new in-house agency. Following a true agency model, the team would include account managers, project managers and creative professionals under a single creative director. The vision? To elevate their creative product to exceed that of external agencies – and to make the in-house team the go-to agency for its clients.

Today, the Creative Services team of 62 FTEs is supported by a limited number of contingent workers and outside firms, including an agency for pure production projects. All work—even work created outside—funnels through dedicated internal account management and creative teams. This “super-agency,” complemented by brand execution and template strategy teams, has facilitated the execution of a huge volume of brand-strong, results-focused marketing campaigns at a significant cost savings to the company. In 2013, the agency managed 3,151 jobs and looks to complete more than 5,000 in 2014, with savings in excess of $1 million achieved through process and resource efficiencies. And the kudos are rolling in.

At the heart of TIAA-CREF’s success story is a remote workforce model that attracts and retains strong talent from across the country. The team is further driven by a creative culture that embraces collaboration and pushes boundaries to help clients achieve success. Most importantly, corporate culture encourages and supports the spirit of what Creative Services embodies by continuing to live the premise of Andrew Carnegie’s 1918 mission: To serve those who serve others.

2014 Finalists

Discover Financial Services

The team at Discover is not your typical corporate creative agency. This is due in part to their approach to solving everyday problems as creatively and collaboratively as possible. The in-house agency is built on a strong creative foundation, with the guiding arm of a well-defined process.

They question everything and require that the creative staff not be burdened by conventional thinking. The team at Discover believes that the best way to contribute to the company’s success is by building a culture that fosters talent and allows for freedom, curiosity and the indulgence of ideas. This team also gives its business partners the best they have to offer, while having fun doing it. Having fun is a statement about this team’s culture and the relationships that blossom as a result. Strong partnership is what keeps this group bonded to their business colleagues, external agencies and most of all, their consumers.

Quicken Loans

No matter who voices it, no matter when it’s shared, if the germ of an idea is there, it’s given value and consideration. That’s what sets the Quicken Loans Marketing team apart. Their in-house agency culture encourages ideas supported by “one of the most innovative workplaces in the mortgage industry.”

As a company, Quicken tries to break new ground every day, and the communication of those advancements demands a nimble team that is not only able, but empowered, to rise to the occasion. The Quicken Loans Marketing team believes that they do it better and faster, with bigger ideas than anyone else in the industry, not in spite of being an in-house agency but because they are an in-house agency. They struggle together. They are in the trenches, making a difference together. And they succeed as a whole, hand in hand with their clients who they also call friends.