LONDON, UK — Last year, the London International Awards (LIA) added an “In-House Company” category for both global and regional to its Of The Year awards. During its first year, the Global In-House Company award was granted to draftLine, the in-house agency for world-renowned brewing company Anheuser-Busch.
LIA recently sat down with ABInBev’s Tracy Stallard, the Global VP for Connections & draftLine, to talk about the agency’s collaborative and creative process, get her thoughts on the expanding future of in-house agencies across brands, and discuss what being the inaugural winner for the award means to agency.
LIA: LIA for the first time recognized a special award for an in-house Company in 2022. How important is this award for you and how do you use the fact that you won the award internally within the agency?
Tracy: It’s a huge recognition especially since this is the inaugural award. It is also very relevant for the entire draftLine (dL) and Marketing community at large, as it truly reflects the huge effort draftLine studios are doing around the world. We have 13 studios and more than 720 people with different talents in the draftLine family today. It’s been a long journey of more than five years since the creation of dL and this award provides validation and respect from our community, but more importantly, it brings pride to our dL team.
With this award, it’ll push us even more to be at the top of our game, because we’re not a culture of resting when we’ve achieved a win, we´ll keep true to our principles and value proposition on delivering creative solutions/effectiveness with data at its core while blending art and science!
LIA: How did management at Anheuser-Busch react to draftLine winning this award?
Tracy: AB InBev management is thrilled about this accolade. There are very positive and encouraging reactions topped off with glowing comments all around! It’s great to see our management team engaged while challenging draftLine every day. They want to see draftLine at the core, orchestrating and collaborating while growing as an integrator with the entire organization.
LIA: There seems to be momentum building for in-house companies across the spectrum of brands – how do you see the future playing out in this space?
Tracy: There is momentum building and bias breaking towards in-house agencies worldwide. It’s now more common for brands to work with in-house partners than ever before. The future looks promising for in-house agencies. They’re uniquely positioned as “insiders” adding immediate value in collaboration efforts and providing instant credibility with their stakeholders. Often times, in-house entities are a cost savings resource but there’s more pressure for them to be transparent about the challenges they accept within their walls.
LIA: How do you go about recruiting the best talent?
Tracy: We believe the draftLine culture of co-working, setting egos aside, focusing on consumers rather than brands, as well as ensuring creative effectiveness, are strong selling points for prospective employees. Recruiting for draftLine is an ongoing process as you never know where you’ll find blooming talent.
We love showcasing prospective talent in our work, as it drives home our value proposition in delivering consumer solutions with data creativity.
Here’s just a small snapshot of our work:
draftLine Argentina – Coincidences: This integrated campaign was inspired by the coincidences between FIFA World Cup 86™ and FIFA World Cup 22™. Argentinians are very superstitious, and many believed that there was a high likelihood of jinxing. People embraced this idea, and they took it as part of their lives to look for coincidences everywhere until the last minute of this World Cup – this was the crux of our campaign.
draftLine Colombia – Fortaleza: There is a law in Colombia that forbids women to lift more than 12,8 kilograms at work. Fortaleza is a transformation initiative that modernizes the whole production line of one of our breweries so women can lift any weight. The first 40,000 units of Club Colombia created by this line were launched as a special pack, and when scanned, offered exclusive job positions to women at the Fortaleza production line. While Fortaleza did not change the law it started a movement to instigate change.
draftLine Mexico – Ta-Da Launch: We unveiled our own Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) platform setting out to prove that there is nothing more magical than cold beers, offered at a good price, that are delivered directly to your home in less than 40 minutes. Through creative communications, TaDa began to rapidly grow in Mexico by leveraging its value proposition.
LIA: You operate on a Global level – how do you unify your teams to get a consistent standard across all offices?
Tracy: Standardization across our 13 studios is a challenge, but one that we embrace. Our global culture is strong and that’s what we rely on to ensure there’s a standard process of sharing, working as a network, and growing/learning from each other while still true to the consumer needs in the respective markets.
The biggest difference between in-house and traditional external agencies is that we run at a faster pace! The culture pace is even more agile than external agencies. Integration is key – we often all sit in the same space with brand teams. Focusing on a solution – we don’t only focus on great ideas, but also on creative solutions that are effective, we solve people problems, not brand problems.
LIA: Do you also work with conventional agencies, and if so, how do you work together to get the best creative outcomes?
Tracy: Working with both internal and external creative agencies is the best way to achieve a stellar output. A modern in-house agency is an integrator that sets egos aside and works with any type of external partner. We have several successful initiatives which were led by external creative partners and complemented by us; we work this way not only with external creative agencies but also media, experiential, sponsorships, public relations, and content partners.