Hertz opens in-house agency to drive European creative


Hertz has become the latest major brand to take marketing in-house, The Drum can reveal, opening its own agency named Hertz Engine to handle creative in Europe.

The car hire giant has collaborated with content agency Adjust Your Set to build and staff Hertz Engine onsite at its European headquarters in Uxbridge, west London. The in-house team of around 30 includes specialists in strategy, data, creative, design, content, social and publishing.

Hertz marketers Mark Wileman and Temerity Vinson told The Drum the move would bring “consistency” and “efficiency” to the company’s creative output and free up its marketing leaders to spend more time planning.

“Although we do have brand guidelines and umbrella strategies, when you have multiple markets and multiple agencies they can all be deciphered in a different way,” said Vinson, the senior director for international marketing.

“Bringing this all under one roof gives us consistency and it also gives us speed to market,” she continued. “We’re out there represented properly across all markets and that’s key for us at this time. As marketers, we have a lot of messages to get to the market and we just want to get them out there quickly, efficiently and with that real Hertz brand presence that we know that we have.”

The time spent having “multiple conversations” with “five or six agencies across different markets” can now be used on strategy instead, according to Vinson.

“The heads in market who report to me, it frees up some of their time so that they can be marketeers again,” she said.

“They can enjoy being a marketeer and not [have to do as much] administration. They can work strategically with these guys to ensure that we are sending the right messages, finding customers in the right points in the decision journey… it allows a little bit more strategic thinking. Not that we weren’t thinking strategically before, but it really frees up time to have those conversations.”

Hertz turned to Adjust Your Set to help establish the in-house operation after being impressed by the London agency’s recent ‘Cars So Great’ campaign for its premium rental range. Their latest work together, a content series called Voyage à la Française extolling the virtues of driving holidays in France, goes live this week.

In future, Hertz Engine will create, scale and deploy these kinds of campaigns centrally.

“Like many international brands, Hertz was working a decentralised agency model, which can lead to fragmented and often duplicated creative work,” said Adjust Your Set managing director Anna-Louise Gladwell. “Engine will strengthen Hertz creatively as it can focus wholly on the global-to-local customer journey, is multidisciplined and multi-lingual.”

Adjust Your Set also had the advantage of being fluent in the language of in-housing. Its parent company Inside Ideas Group, which counts the in-vogue Oliver Agency among its stable, has carved out a lucrative niche in setting up bespoke agencies onsite for brands.

Wileman, Hertz’s director of brand marketing, cited Oliver’s U-Studio agency for Unilever as one of the inspirations for its own agency. Darren Cramphorn, who helped launch U-Studio, has been appointed client service director for Hertz Engine.

Inside Ideas Group’s mantra is “better, faster, cheaper”, and cost saving has been one of the major attractions for marketers to adopt its model. “It wasn’t the driver [for us] but it was important,” said Wileman. “Of course, we’re a business. The beauty of this model is that they’re based in our head office, so we get efficiencies when it comes to briefing things in. They’re able to have direct conversations with stakeholders. It just smooths it; things get done more quickly.”

Hertz will continue to use a roster of agencies for its media and public relations needs and has no immediate plans to bring other services in-house, though the experiment will be watched closely by the wider business. The US-based firm last week announced that its global revenue rose to a record $2.5bn in the second quarter, up 5% from a year ago.

Its car hire market is one in flux, with automated rental services and car-sharing startups arriving to rival the traditional dominance of Hertz, Avis and Enterprise.

Hertz is responding to this challenge by making its own bet on technology, trialling a subscription service in Germany and Italy and facial recognition software in the US to make the car pickup process more seamless.

For now, Hertz hopes that by driving off the beaten track of the traditional agency model, it can stand apart from its competition.

“All car hire brands at the moment can look very similar,” said Vinson. “Our aim is not to look similar; it’s to operate as a consumer-centric brand and that’s what you’ll see through the model.”



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