Turning the agency model inside out

Frustrated by a lack of collaboration, inflexible approaches and sky-high costs, a number of marketing clients have grown weary of a traditional advertising agency model that’s not working for them. In light of that dissatisfaction, NZ Marketing spoke to Jarad O’Hara, one of the founders of Insiders, a new-look agency that offers custom models for each client, working from the inside and partnering with client teams to produce more effective solutions

What is Insiders?

Insiders was founded by myself and Craig Whitehead, two of New Zealand’s most experienced advertising leaders, with an unparalleled specialism in the world of retail communications. Over our – ahem – 25-plus years in the industry, we’ve helped our clients create some of Aotearoa’s most-loved, effective and iconic work, all while building New Zealand’s most successful-ever retail- specialist strategic, creative and production agency.

What’s behind it?

When we left the big agency world and the global network a few years back, we saw that the traditional model was broken. The CMOs we were speaking to were needing more collaboration, more in-depth understanding, more agility and speed, more retail and acquisition specialism, more savings and more flexible arrangements – all with no compromise on the quality of the strategic and creative thinking. 

At the same time, they were all on some sort of in-house journey, which in the most part was working for them, but they needed help augmenting that resource and getting their agency partners working more closely with the in-house resource, rather than being in competition with them.

That’s where we saw the opportunity for an all-new offer that bridges client in-house operations and external agencies, with tailor-made models for each client, featuring harder-working creative and a more collaborative approach than ever before – working from the inside.

What does ‘working from the inside’ mean?

It means we’re a genuine extension of our clients’ marketing and in-house creative and design teams. We’re there to help whenever they need us, and we can scale to deliver as much or as little of what they need, often working alongside them in their own buildings.

It means we’re deep in their businesses, so we get an in-depth understanding of their real issues and challenges, so we can bring smarter, more relevant and more commercially savvy solutions to the table. It means we can short circuit the traditional process, taking hands and steps out of how it usually works. 

What all that ultimately means is more commercially effective work, delivered faster and more efficiently than they’ve had before.

What type of work do you do?

We’re experts in helping major retail and consumer-services clients build strong communication platforms, with a specialism in creating and producing hard-working retail and promotional work in smarter, faster and more cost-effective ways. We love the big positioning work as much as the next agency, but we love the smaller stuff just as much, because we know how important it is to our clients, whether that’s day-in, day-out promo, product and price work for retailers, building better sales collateral or even helping win pitches for consumer service clients.

What are your expansion plans with Insiders?

We’re very fortunate to be working with a bunch of enviable clients already, who are some of New Zealand’s leading retailers and consumer service companies. To be honest, we have no desire to build another 100-plus person agency – been there, done that! We’re more interested in partnering with a small group of large clients with a view to becoming a genuine extension of their teams and building long-lasting relationships with them. 

We are keen to round out our client list with a couple more categories, though, but beyond that we’re keen to keep a lid on it so we can keep delivering the high-level, personalised help we currently provide for our clients. 

For more information, email Jarad at [email protected] or visit insidersagency.com.

This was first published in the March/April 2024 issue

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