Raise your hand if you’ve considered working at an in-house agency

—While many creatives are reluctant to work in-house, Google proves that in-house agencies are capable of producing amazing work, says Craig Redmond—

Client owned, in-house agencies were once called the place where advertising careers go to die. But then, 11 years ago, something interesting happened.

Google Creative Lab, which had been quietly poaching top industry creative folks since its inception in 2007, forced the ad world to gag on its own arrogant words.

In the third quarter of the 2010 Super Bowl, Google aired the first TV commercial for its “Search On” campaign. A riveting and heart-melting tale that magically unfolded within the seemingly claustrophobic confines of its iconic search window. A great ad, not only created and executed entirely in-house, but also conceived by students in an experimental Google apprenticeship program.

For many of us, “Parisian Love” (see it below) won the Super Bowl sweepstakes and perhaps even shifted our jaded perception of the in-house agency model. But while we all loved the creative platform, I don’t think any of us could have predicted its longevity and rightful place in advertising lore.

And we certainly wouldn’t have foreseen that a concept created at an in-house agency would prove so powerful and timeless that it would be embraced by a traditional ad agency a dozen years later.

That would be a bit like the tail wagging the dog, we’d insist.

But that’s what happened. In June, Uncommon London introduced its Covid culture interpretation of the idea with the campaign “What Are You Searching for, This Summer?” And now returns with the latest version of Search On, called “Hands Raised.”

The story is narrated by Marcus Rashford, one of the young Black footballers who was tormented by racist trolls after England’s penalty kick loss in this year’s European Championship Final, and whose street mural portrait in Manchester was defaced by hoodlums shortly thereafter.

So, little wonder that this new story, which reveals itself in that magical little search box, is one of cultural understanding. In this case, it doesn’t just demonstrate the power of search, but compels the viewer to use that power for the purpose of good.

“After all, it’s not our questions that define us… It’s what we do with the answers,” says Rashford, before ending the spot with a gallant stare down the throat of the camera.

Which does beg one last, slightly more trifling query.

After musing on this little treatise about Google Creative Lab and its lasting Search On success story, might you consider doing a wee Google search of your own on the question of “client owned, in-house agency jobs”?

And if so, what will you do with the answers?

“Hands Raised”

“Parisian Love”

“What are you searching for this summer?”