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On a Midlands Mission

By The Drum, Administrator

July 29, 2004 | 8 min read

When an agency is busy promoting its clients, promoting its own business often takes a back seat. While we can appreciate that they’ve got their priorities right, there’s still an opinion floating among some clients that the Midlands is little more than a traffic black spot enroute to the creative hot spots of the North and the South. So if Adline has irritated any agencies this month by knocking on their door, shouting through the letter box or peering through the patio doors, then we’re very sorry, but it’s time clients knew about what goes on in Middle England.

However, like an M. Night Shyamalan film, there is a twist. Unlike previous Midlands focus features, which have reeled off the usual suspects - those agencies that are well known and well established - this focus is taking an alternative approach. Giving Messrs RBH, McCann-Erickson, Parenthesis, Haslimann Taylor, Big Communications...etc, a well deserved long weekend, Adline is profiling the companies that are up-and-coming, hiding under a rock or are just the quiet kid at the back of the class who has something interesting to say, but just won’t say it.

So, for any potential clients that need their knowledge of the Midlands agency scene broadening, this guide will hopefully have gathered together all the right ingredients to give you a little food for thought.

The Dairy

Based in Derbyshire, The Dairy began life in 2002 when Nigel Rowlson and Jo Cooke left HTA to create a new agency. Shortly joined by a third director, Shaun Friend, the agency now has seven staff. The dairy\'s biggest client is underwear brand, Bravissimo, for which it handles all national advertising. However, other clients include, Derbyshire County Council, Chatham Clothing and Daisy Roots.

M3 Communications Ltd

Born out of a merger in 1999 between M3 Advertising and Design and Advantage Advertising and Marketing, the Wolverhampton-based agency now has 22 staff and has a number of sector specialisations including home interest, retail, social care, leisure and horticulture. In 2004, M3 has worked on campaigns for clients such as Goodyear and has recently secured new business with Dunelm Mill and Argos.


Based in Coleshill, Boxer is part of The Marketing Store, and hit the news this year for the global packaging contract for McDonald’s. The design consultancy also counts Stella Artois, GlaxoSmithKline and Marks & Spencer on its client list and is working on design projects for Urban Splash’s retail, office and leisure building, Fort Dunlop – a building, which, in 2005, will become Boxer’s new home.

Oakley Wilkinson Bryan

Founded in 2001, OWB is a full service marketing communications agency based in Birmingham. With a team of nine, the agency has managed to secure business with George Wimpy Plc, NFU Mutual, Café Rouge, UK Trade and Investment, and Greene King. So far, 2004 has witnessed the agency win new business in every month as well as launching the Discountaccom and Attractiontix brands for client Seligo.

Armadillo PR Ltd

Founded as a partnership in 2001 by Catherine Connan and Emma Nicholls, Birmingham-based Armadillo PR now has 17 staff and a broad client base. 2004 saw Mark Triggs join as a director and shareholder and, in March, the agency acquired Nottingham-based PR firm Audax Communications. Among the agency’s clients are Birmingham Forward, Lloyds TSB Corporate, Bucknall Austin, RICS and Unilever R&D.

The Bright Consultancy

Based in Henley-in-Arden, The Bright Consultancy was launched in 2000 as a two-person operation. MD Ian Bates and director Shona Beattie now have 15 staff, working for 22 clients, including Fujifilm, Calor and Baxi. In 2004 the agency has landed new business in the energy, food, building products and retail market sectors. Key projects included a PR push for RAC Auto Windscreens.


Founded in 1984 and rebranded in 2003, Scott Hansell\'s Sutton Coldfield agency has 11 staff and a broad client base. In 2004, CCL has created the new catalogue for Elle and produced literature for bathroom supplier Bristan. CCL specialises in the home improvement, DIY, plumbing, automotive and retail sectors and outlined an ambition for growth in the year ahead.

Purple Circle

Based in Nottingham, design agency, Purple Circle has 15 staff, headed up by managing director Michael Slack. The firm has a client list that includes Boots, Speedo and Experience Nottinghamshire. The agency is currently creating an identity for Nottinghamshire, and developing branding for Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries’ Union Pub Company.

Severn Communications

Founded in 1988, Droitwich-based Severn Communications is a full service agency run by directors Martyn Griffiths, Graham Remes and Mike Bourne. Severn has 14 staff, working on a client base that includes LSC, Crown-Gate Shopping Centre and the City of Worcester. In 2004, the agency has produced ad campaigns for George Wimpy North Midlands and an integrated campaign for LSC.


After much speculation, the brainchild of former Wallis Tomlinson senior creatives, Richard Elwell, Jon Harrison and Steve Price has finally arrived. Based in The Custard Factory, Birmingham, Unsuitable has positioned itself to provide clients with an opportunity to deal directly with creatives and has so far landed new business with Touchwood, The PRCA, West Brom FC, and Dodd Homes.

Yes Direct

Staffordshire-based direct marketing agency, Yes Direct, was established in 2001. MD David Patrick now has a team of 6 staff working on a number of high profile clients. Yes Direct’s client list includes Bavaria, CORGI, JCB, Western Wines and Royal School for the Deaf. The agency moved into new offices this year and has an aim of becoming recognised as the Midlands’ leading DM agency.


Founded in 1998, Nottingham-based DiVersity has 14 staff and provides services such as advertising, design, new media and PR. DiVersity\'s client base contains a number of high profile brands, including Boots, Showcase Cinemas and ICI Paints. In 2004, the agency has been working on design projects for ICI Paints, Nottinghamshire Police and Connexions Derbyshire as well as a branding project for East Midlands Development Agency.

Milton Bayer Communications

Founded by Don Mammatt and Ray Wellington in 1991 and based in Northampton, Milton Bayer has a client list that includes Monarch Scheduled, Travis Perkins, Tesco and England & Wales Cricket Board. 2004 work has included the product launch of J-FLEX for JohnsonDiversey, and a website for Emap Advertising. The agency specialises in sport, property and public sector organisations.

Schmakk Limited

Harbourne-based Schmakk is a ten-strong brand and design agency, founded in 2000. Spearheaded by directors James Cook, Lucy Whitehill and Gavin Johnson, Schmakk\'s key projects of 2004 have included internal communications for Abbey and a combination of projects for discount retailer, Latifs. Other clients on the Schmakk books are Bentley Motors, Bostik, and the University of Birmingham.


Formally SAM Design, the Derby-based agency was launched in 1989 by friends Pete Townsend and Andy Keeling. The agency has nine staff and this year has been busy creating the hard-hitting ads for Nottinghamshire City Council\'s anti-begging campaign and a series of ads for Nottingham\'s Victoria Shopping Centre.


Leicester-based Hopwood was founded in 1987 and specialises in the non-commercial, political, b2b and recruitment sectors. The agency has ten staff and has a client list that includes Belvoir Castle, Hamilton Community College, and Leicestershire Development Agency. In 2004, key projects have included the rebrand for social care recruiters, Reliance Care and Match Group.

Mad Avenue

Founded by former Wallis Tomlinson MD, Andy Walton, Mad Avenue has a team of five and offers above and below-the-line disciplines, with emphasis on strategic planning. Since its inception, Mad Avenue has secured business with a variety of clients, including Coors, Crosby Homes, Hardys and UBC. One of Mad Avenue\'s key projects of 2004 has been the new kit launch campaign for Wolves.

BDW (Business Development Workshop)

Based in Brierley Hill, marketing consultancy BDW was established in 1989 and now in its 15th year has grown to become a team of 25-plus. BDW specialises in the telecommunications, automotive, FMCG, regional and retail sectors, and has a client base that includes Alfa Romeo, Beatties Department Store, Blockbuster, Cadbury Trebor Bassett and T-Mobile.

Rave Communications

Formed in 2000 by John Wilford and Darryl Canham, Rave is a full service agency based in Coleshill. The launch of Rave PR in April has taken the agency\'s numbers up to 16. Among Rave\'s client list is Birmingham City Centre Partnership, Martineau Place and Bullring. And key projects of this year include campaigns for three shopping centres and work on LSC\'s Gremlins campaign.

Haley Sharpe

Established in 1983, Haley Sharpe is an agency that specialises in design and the museum sector. The agency has offices in the USA, Canada and Southern Africa, as well as the HQ in Leicester, where 60 staff are based. Recent projects for the agency have included creating the first ever tourist centre for Madeira.

Ad One

Stoke-based Ad One is a full-service agency launched by Mark Lesniak, Alex Swann and former Saatchis creative, Richard Grisdale. Less than two years old, Ad One has already clocked up business with the LSC, Michelin and Appointments Personnel. The agency is currently working on a campaign for financial services client, Friends Provident.


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