Emma Sexton won’t be the first person to tell you that design and creativity should be at board level. It’s a topic which has come up continually, yet never seems to gain lasting traction. But Emma might be one of the very few people to tell you that the shifts currently taking place in business, brand and technology will move in-house creative leaders into a prime position to successfully operate at board level, once and for all.

Emma is the founder of the Inside Out Community which is UK and EMEA’s first independent community for ambitious in-house creative leaders. Their Awards were established in 2013 and they now provide the latest thinking, insights and perspectives to their members and the wider in-house creativecommunity. Emma says “our only agenda is to get our in-house creative leaders tothe highest levels of influence and persuasion within their brands”.

Emma believes we are in the fourth wave of in-housing creativity which was fueled by a pandemic, a need for speed and agility, and brands having to do much more yet with the same budgets. Added to this mix is the changing role and scope of the CMO, along with the ability of AI to power marketing up.

The world has shifted tectonically. Businesses now compete on a global stage, and with that, brand is now their only differentiator – a sum of emotions from every customer interaction.

Emma Sexton

How do we create emotions? With design and creativity. So, who is going to be the guardian of that creativity? It really can only be an in-house creative leader. 

“For a long time the industry has seen in-house creative teams as the under dogs, with the wrong assumption that these teams were only ever production studios to save on marketing costs. Fast forward to now and we have top creative talent moving in-house with no appetite for going back to their agencies.” Emma Sexton

There is a rigour to the work of In-house creatives.  It is not all about winning awards but proving your commercial impact and talking the language of business. 

Some of the world's best brands have top-notch in-house creative teams such as Unilever, Specsavers, BBC, Google, Channel 4, Lego, Oatly, Gymshark, and what3words. These teams are leading on the creative decisions powered up with their deep understanding of the business and rich customer insights.

As AI matures and is fully adopted these teams are going to be able to free themselves up from the BAU outputs and have wider business impact.  

“I think creativity is being squeezed out of business… Think of a company like a body.

Most companies are cut off at the head, they’re disconnected from their heart, and they’re focused on the more analytical side of their brain. I think what most companies need is more creativity, and maybe a little bit more heart and soul”

Brian Chesky, CEO Of Airbnb 

The Inside Out Community has many stories of in-house creative leaders influencing R&D departments, delivering award winning above the line campaigns and some have already carved out their own career pathway into the C-Suite. 

Sam Altman believes he will see a one person billion dollar company soon. Will we see a one person in-house creative team sitting in the C-Suite? Emma thinks so.-

For more information on the Inside Out Community membership and awards head to www.insideout.community