In-housing: Advertising Executive Steve Babaeko stresses client-agency synergy as winning strategy

By Zion Rufus 

The advertising industry has witnessed significant changes, from concerns about digital advertising fraud and the phasing out of third-party cookies to the impact of the 2020 pandemic and inflationary pressures. 

Despite these prevailing challenges, client-agency relationships still remain a crucial determinant of advertising success, and brands that foster collaborative and productive relationships with their agencies are more likely to achieve outstanding results and receive industry recognition.

This is the position of Steve Babaeko, CEO of Nigeria’s leading advertising and creative agency X3M Ideas and President of the International Advertising Association(IAA Nigeria Chapter), who re-emphasized that strong client-agency relationships are key to achieving advertising success, noting that fantastic products and brands are linked to professionals who prioritize quality and avoid distractions. 

His insights also underscored the significance of strong client-agency relationships in the advertising industry. 

“By co-creating, collaborating, and valuing the expertise of agencies, clients can elevate their brands, drive successful campaigns, and stand out in a rapidly changing advertising landscape,” he stated in an exclusive chat with MARKETING EDGE.

Babaeko, whose agency bagged West Africa’s first Cannes Lions Award, believes that the relationship between clients and agencies is akin to that of a husband and wife, where disagreements are normal, but open collaboration and co-creation are crucial for producing fantastic work and building better brands.

“When clients rely on their agencies to rise up to challenges, creative solutions can emerge, leading to successful campaigns,” he said, urging clients and agencies to see themselves as one team working towards common goals, promoting harmony and minimizing unnecessary rivalry.

“When you see a brand winning awards and winning global awards; infact, check some of the brands that are winning globally. And then go back and check the relationship between the agencies they have and the clients… My theory is that the clients that have the best relationship with the agencies are the ones that actually win. Because winning is the aftermath of how you have been able to forge those relationships and work together as a team,” he added

The concept of in-housing, where clients handle their advertising needs internally, has been a trend that gained traction in 2022.

However, in 2023, the strategy has evolved as brands implementing in-house operations have found that external agencies continue to play a vital role in supporting their efforts. While some benefits of in-housing, such as increased brand knowledge and staff dedication, have been observed, other expectations, like agility and cost efficiency, have fallen short for many brands.

According to a study by Alchemists Marketing Advisory and global trade body ISBA, factors driving ad in-housing include cost effectiveness, combining creativity and business under one roof, speed, confidentiality, reduced conflict of interest, and full control of decision making. However, the report also notes that fully internally-managed in-housing may not be suitable for every brand. There are other options and solutions available to develop an in-house operation, and the potential benefits are significant with the right approach.

As the advertising landscape continues to evolve, the role of agencies remains essential in driving creativity, innovation, and strategic brand building; and only clients who value and nurture these relationships are better positioned to achieve their advertising objectives and create a lasting impact in the competitive market.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.