Reimagining Creativity

November 12, 2018

By Crystal Albanese


In 2016, Chobani hired its first-ever chief creative officer with one request from the founder: help transform it into a modern food company. Since then, Leland Maschmeyer has built out Chobani's full-service in-house agency, the "Brand Development" division, into a 45-person team with growing capabilities. At the inaugural ANA In-House Agency Conference in 2019, Maschmeyer will share the struggles, insights, and approaches that informed this division's system of operation. In the lead up to the conference, we sat down with Maschmeyer, who has been recognized by Adweek as a "Young Influential," honored by Campaign as a "Global 30 Under 30," and named one of the "Most Influential Designers" working today by HOW Magazine. Here's what he shared:

Q. What was the reason behind Chobani launching an agency in-house?

The yogurt industry (and food industry at large) is highly competitive. Chobani believed that integrating strategic creative capabilities into the heart of its marketing and innovation efforts would give it an advantage over the competition.

Q. You started the agency from scratch. What steps or considerations did you take when first determining what was needed and who to hire?

My first step was to understand the company's "virtuous loop." It's the series of interrelated activities that have a compounding effect on growth. It's the company's engine. I then built my team structure and roles to service and enhance that loop.

Q. Do you work with an outside agency and if so, how do you determine what work goes to them versus to your team?

Yes, we do. We strongly believe in working with outside partners. The capabilities that we built internally are critical to business performance and in regular need. For work that is infrequent or requires a scale or depth that we can't build, we reach out to best-of-breed partners. We also work closely with publishers on campaigns and activations. Their audience insights and ability to customize programs is invaluable to our efforts.

Q. What work are you most proud of that's come out of the in-house team?

The team has produced so much remarkable, award-winning work that has transformed our business; it's difficult to pick one thing. Rather than pick a what, I'll pick a how. What this team has achieved in a short period of time is only overshadowed by the level of camaraderie, respect, and perseverance they've shown through it all. I'm proud of the culture we've created together.

You can get more advice and insights when Leland Maschmeyer, chief content officer at Chobani, speaks at the 2019 ANA In-House Agency Conference, March 13–15, in Orlando, Fla.


Crystal Albanese is a senior manager of committees and conferences at the ANA.

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