Warren Chase (pictured above) is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of 140, Verizon’s in-house agency that gets its name from its address: 140 West Street in lower Manhattan. Warren will be speaking at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference in October at the new Second Stage forum, a more intimate setting for learning about what’s new and what’s next. I talked with him about the role of an in-house agency and how its effectiveness is measured.
Bill Duggan: Let’s start with a very fundamental question; why does Verizon have an in-house agency?
Warren Chase: Verizon wants to work with the best talent, whether this talent sits at an external agency or is on a team of independent consultants, musicians, architects or other creative leaders. As part of this quest, we identified the opportunity to create an internal agency team, as it provides an opportunity to have that creative talent as part of the company’s full-time head count.
The intent of the in-house team is not to bring all the work in-house but to have a bit more skin in the game, especially when it comes to critical brand-narrative decisions, or how we show up in our own channels.
Duggan: How do you decide what work goes to external agencies and what goes in-house?
Chase: 140’s role within the general agency ecosystem is to lead the end-to-end brand narrative (tone of voice, look and feel, design) and creative execution of Verizon’s own channels (retail, digital, .com, social). That doesn’t mean 140 can’t also handle other specific assignments to meet the demands of confidentiality or any other specific need of the enterprise.
Duggan: How do you attract and retain good talent?
Chase: We’re doing something that has never been done before. As an agency team, we navigate through more vertical skill sets than most of the agencies out there. Our teams are far more engaged with the decisions that affect good creative work and are exposed to real end-to-end narratives that have an impact on the brand. Because of that, unlike in many external agencies, most of the work that our teams create actually gets produced.
Verizon offers an incredible career-growth opportunity. Our people go through consistent and actionable career-projection plans, whereas most major agencies have had to make cuts on people training to hit their numbers.
Duggan: What KPIs do you use to assess the effectiveness of 140?
Chase: We are measured just like any external agency working with Verizon. We are part of the biannual agency review pipeline that includes all other agency partners. We’re measured in terms of creative excellence, strategic leadership, talent retention, etc. That keeps us in check.
Duggan: What are the biggest challenges for your in-house agency?
Chase: Getting on top of all the work we have now on our hands!
Duggan: How important are industry awards to 140?
Chase: Even though we don’t live for the external recognition, industry awards are important because they help attract great talent.
ANA will be releasing new research on the state of in-house agencies in October and highlights will be shared at Warren’s session on Second Stage during the Masters of Marketing.
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