GCPL's Sudhir Sitapati sparks renewed debate on in-house creative agency vs external partner

Sudhir Sitapati, the Managing Director and CEO of Godrej Consumer Products, recently turned to LinkedIn to commend GCPL's freshly established in-house creative agency, Light Box. He shared the agency's showreel, igniting a discussion among LinkedIn users regarding the merits of in-house versus external creative partners, while also offering their opinions on the agency's work

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GCPL's Sudhir Sitapati sparks renewed debate on in-house creative agency vs external partner

The debate over whether to rely on an in-house creative team or an external creative partner has resurfaced within the advertising and marketing industry. This time, the catalyst for the discussion was a recent LinkedIn post by Sudhir Sitapati, a thought leader and the Managing Director and CEO of Godrej Consumer Products.

Although the primary purpose of Sitapati's LinkedIn post was to introduce Godrej Consumer Products' in-house creative agency, Light Box, and showcase its portfolio, it raised concerns among members of the advertising and marketing community. The apprehension stemmed from the fact that Godrej Consumer Products, a company known for its significant advertising budget of nearly Rs 1000 crore, had chosen to launch an in-house creative agency.

But there were people also commenting in favour of having an in-house creative agency to make processes simpler. A LinkedIn user also suggested that this move by Godrej can inspire other multinational companies to launch in-house ad agencies.

Tarun Rai, the former Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives, Wunderman Thompson APAC commented, “An in-house agency?! As if our industry didn’t already have enough problems. (Glad I left when I did).”

To which, Sitapati replied, “It’s owned in-house but talent is very much for the wonderful agency world.”

Pointing out one big challenge of running an in-house creative setup, Anand Rangachari, Business Head, Pot & Bloom, wrote, “Key challenge would be to balance freedom and independence in creative thinking versus brand team compulsions particularly when the agency is part of the company.”

Sitapati acknowledged the challenge for a company that owns a vast portfolio of brands globally.

Rishi Koul, Insights Lead, General Mills, suggested that this may inspire other big consumer companies to get more in-house creative solutions versus outsourcing them.

The house was divided into people favouring in-house creative agency setups versus the ones lobbying for having an external creative agency on board.

Another LinkedIn user, Shubhankar Bhattacharya, Independent Consultant, commented, “Replicating Lintas!!! Creative guys are not available off the shelf. Brand and creative teams are mostly loggerheads. They need space and environment, which mostly corporates seldom have.”

Swapnil S Kumar, Head of Marketing, Below the line, Pernod Ricard India, wrote, “In-house creative team does have a reason to exist to ensure there is no loss in translation between the brand and creative teams and kudos to the team for generating what they have.”

Janani Kandaswamy, Sr Category Brand Manager, Classmate & Paperkraft, seconded and wrote, “Internal creative team is a lovely intervention for creating brilliant advertising. I believe it can solve two common challenges faced by marketers 1. The concerns of many leadership teams that creative excellence might not yield better revenues 2. The struggle to maintain consistency in the 'brand world' especially when marketing heads/agencies change.

Ahmed Abbas Maswood, an FMCG leader, wrote that having an in-house creative team makes it a tad simpler in terms of the briefs being understood better.

While the debate did originate from Sitapati's post, it also brought forth diverse opinions, with some individuals praising the work accomplished by Light Box on the company's GoodKnight campaign.

Providing insights into the creative agency, Sitapati mentioned that Light Box was established earlier this year on April 1st. It is spearheaded by Tom Dawes and has the support of Shalini Avadhani and Gaurav Kumar.

Sharing why GCPL felt the need to launch an in-house creative agency, he wrote, “We needed a bunch of crazy, creative people who dreamed, bathed, dressed, coloured, smelt and even killed with our brands (I’m leaving out the verb for our newest acquisition, Kama Sutra).”

He went on to write, “We’ve created some really fun and powerful ads with Light Box over the last few months. My favourite so far is the latest Goodknight ad. Our brand proposition is that Goodknight ‘prevents mosquitos from disturbing your baby’s sleep’ and our advertising idea is around ‘dads who try’. It’s an empathetic (not provocative) take on equal parenting, and we hope we can nudge dads into walking out of meetings to try to put their kids to sleep.”

GCPL CEO creative agency Godrej Consumer Products Sudhir Sitapati LinkedIn Godrej Managing Director