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The In-house Marketing vs Agency Debate

Quartz Editorial Team

Quartz Editorial Team

Olya Dyachuk, Data Driven Media Director at Heineken

Ahead of the Spring instalment of the CONNECT CMO Leadership Summit, Quartz’ Head of Content, Charlie Roberts, spoke with Olya Dyachuk, Data Driven Media Director at Heineken.

Why Heineken opt for In-House over Agency

The in-house vs. agency debate is an age-old quandary, but Olya speaks refreshingly on the topic: “There is no such thing as an in-house agency. These people are our teams.”

Olya goes on to discuss the importance of in-house marketing and why we have seen the industry shift in favour of this strategy:

  • Drives ownership and control
  • Allows for full transparency
  • Closer to the business- clear shared vision
  • It’s personal
  • Less transactions- faster turnaround
  • Agility

“The role of the in-house team must play a vital role in the wider organisation,” she explains. “My team at Heineken UK, for example, is a collaborative team. It sits between every department in the business- all the way from media buying to legal.”

‘It’s so vital that our teams have clear positioning, a clear role in the business. They must form a key part of corporate strategy.” Olya comments on the necessity of ambition and corporate drive from within media teams because ultimately, the campaigns that are born from brand purpose are in many ways the spiritual backbone of any business.


A huge challenge for in-house strategy is talent growth and retention. As well as this, brands must make clear from above, that diversity and sustainability are integral to any in-house marketing team. “A brand who does this particularly well is Unilever,” who put great emphasis on ESG and making the right decisions. 

So What’s Next

It has long been argued that there is just too much distance between brands and outsourced agencies to ensure the best results. Olya argues that although “this gulf has definitely widened, the two sides are definitely beginning to come back together again.”

What’s most important is knowing who is in the driving seat. “In housing can look very different in every business… Your agency can be as close as you’d like it to be.”

“In house and agency should be striving together for the best possible outcomes.”


When asked how marketing leaders can strengthen their own teams, Olya was very clear.

“We need to make sure that anything we do drives positive change for the world… and to spend more time investing in people.”

It is clear that Heineken cares about both its’ people and its’ world.  Since July 2020, all Heineken® beer for the Dutch market has been brewed using 100% green energy.  How refreshing for a brand to practise what it preaches.

We’ll have a cold one, please.

Olya will be speaking at our CONNECT CMO Leadership Summit this Spring at Twickenham Stadium, London. Delegate registration is now closed, but if you are interested in finding out more about the event, the full agenda and when the next edition is, please visit our website.