As part of The Drum’s series of reports on the marketing and media scene in Manchester we speak to a number of industry insiders operating in the space to gain an insight into the key issues surrounding the city emerging as a media capital.
In a chain of features we’ll be looking at the industry’s responses to the questions we posed, to find out what’s happening in the city now and what they think the future for the digital and media industry in Manchester looks like.
Jo Leah, managing director, Weber Shandwick Manchester
Maybe we should ask what impact Manchester has made on the BBC and question if we have whet its appetite for life outside London?
MediaCityUK and the BBC’s move ‘up north’ have undoubtedly had a profound effect on the mind sets of many of us in the communications industry. It is a huge mark of confidence in us – the quality of our people and the quality of our work. The move has also helped our shop window to the world and demonstrated to those outside of Manchester that we are a bright, exciting, national media and creative hub.
Paul Austin, CD, ADZ Media
I think it's made people in London realise that, despite rumours to the contrary, we actually do have hot running water and indoor toilets in the North! In all seriousness though, anything that attracts attention - and therefore talent - to the area can only be a good thing. The one thing Manchester isn't short of is talent, and the statement of intent that places like MediaCity bring shows that you don't have to move away to get noticed or work on big clients.
Brian Rees, chairman, the if agency
Although there has been a lively debate on the real value of a very brave move by the BBC, it really has put us in the spotlight. It has given many us all a feeling of confidence and a sense that media influence has come our way. If we harness this confidence, it can only improve our cultural, educational and economic profile. We mustn’t overlook initiatives like the Sharp Project and the continuing efforts of a very proactive council, particularly at a time when other cities are mothballing regeneration projects.
Geoff Parker, client services director, Click Consult
This is great for the area and puts Manchester and the North West firmly on the map as a leading area for digital marketing. There are notable agencies scattered across the UK including Glasgow, Dublin, Leeds, Edinburgh, Leicester, Brighton to name but a few, however with the concentration of top agencies in Chester, Warrington and Manchester area and with the growth of MediaCity, it rivals these locations and London for market leading expertise in new media.
Karl Barker, MD, Cube3
It's hard to see if MediaCity/BBC are having an effect on in the city centre. It is such early days I think everybody is waiting tentatively from the side lines waiting for something significant to happen. I feel it will be an influence that will just grow and grow over the next five years.
Nigel Papworth, owner, Refinery
It is creating new employment, the growth of many small support businesses and networks, but most important in times like these, it represents the most confident endorsement of the cities successful future.
Natalie Gross, CEO, Amaze
With the move of the BBC and the opening of MediaCity, there is currently a spotlight on Manchester, particularly in the digital and media industries. Agencies should use the spotlight to showcase themselves, their clients and what they have already been achieving.
Lou Cordwell, founder and CEO, magneticNorth
So far, we’ve seen two key consequences: new revenue streams and new levels of confidence. The arrival of MediaCity and the BBC has brought new clients to the region which has in turn boosted the spectrum of projects for many agencies, particularly in digital. We work a lot with BBC and have done for many years but their arrival in Salford has created opportunities for us to work with new departments and to work together in new ways. Although we still continue to work on projects with London based BBC teams, it’s great to be able to just hop on a tram to meet face-to-face with clients whenever we need to. In terms of confidence, the coming to life of MediaCity and the arrival of the BBC seems to have acted as a real catalyst for change on our doorstep and we’re seeing a new wave of energy and enthusiasm around the region across start-ups, established companies and investors alike.
Andy Gallacher, associate director, markettiers4dc
The impact on the PR industry is still only just being felt. The relocation of Breakfast, 5 Live, Sport and all of children’s programming presents exciting editorial opportunities for forward thinking brands in the North West. As a broadcast communications specialist it’s absolutely one of the reasons we invested in a Manchester operation.
Jane Hudson, MD, Forever Creative
It has brought more of a spotlight on Manchester but I’m not sure if it has had any major impact on our industry as yet.
Tim Newns, chief executive, MIDAS
MediaCity is Europe’s first purpose-built business hub for the creative and digital industries, representing a £500m investment. The BBC has relocated 7 major departments here and in turn, ITV is investing £45 million. MediaCity has put Salford and Manchester on the map, heightening our profile on a global stage. With the predicted job creation of at least 15,500 jobs by 2015, MediaCity has attracted a number of creative businesses to set up in the city that can feed of the supply chain and be part of this connected community. The tenants are not the only draw for businesses; the investment into the digital infrastructure has made media digital workflow accessible, affordable and reliable – catapulting productions into the 21st century and allowing for transatlantic collaborations to be practised with ease.
Tony Foggett, CEO, Code Computerlove
Let’s be honest; at the moment MediaCity is heavily focused around broadcasting. The BBC’s obligation to outsource a certain amount of its work creates a great opportunity for those of us who can match their requirements in terms of capabilities, talent, experience and expectations. Luckily, the departments the BBC brought up here (Children’s, Sports and FMT) are the most forward thinking in terms of cross platform innovation and embracing digital content and the most active in terms of their commissioning/outsourcing. We’re fortunate enough to have delivered a number of projects for Cbeebies and the mobile team within FMT so far and we’re looking forward to more briefs coming our way.
Nick Rhind, CEO, CTI Digital
At the moment sapping lots of talent which I spoke about a year ago, as a BBC supplier I expected to get hit and we did. In two years’ time the BBC will be great as lots of trained ex-students will come out with experience and useful skills. Currently I believe there’s a major brain drain and many agencies struggling over staff to fulfil the work being generated. I hope in the meantime this means more agencies collaborating or merging together to survive this time. We are in talks with more agencies in providing them support so there are signs of this happening.