Manchester Focus

By The Drum, Administrator

January 3, 2006 | 20 min read

That’s half a decade put to bed and boy would it not go quietly. If you had to pick one word to reflect 2000 to 2005, you couldn’t go too far wrong with ‘bumpy’. Many agencies folded, while others worked hard to iron out the creases just to survive in an increasingly difficult market with ever-shrinking and stretched budgets. It’s not been all negative however, with some successful agency launches and many firms beginning to eat into accounts that had habitually been laid on a plate for London-based agencies. 2005 itself was one of ups and downs. MG Rover’s collapse in April was felt by so many across the industry, while some of the clients who had long ploughed money into the industry outside of the capital finally succumbed to the bright lights of the big smoke. Meanwhile, sizeable accounts and engaging projects continued to feed the agencies willing to fight for their slice of the new business pie.

As a way of looking forward and to coincide with this month’s Focus Manchester, Adline has commissioned some of the city’s most talented, established and rising stars from last season to forecast what 2006 may have in store for their respective disciplines. Their prophecies are not specific to their city, nor to the North West, they are for everyone operating within their field of expertise.

Let’s hope that the Crystal Balls of all our contributors are working - as we take a look at what the future holds for the industry in 2006.


Andrew Brown-Allan, Managing Director,

And Partners

So what lies ahead for advertising in 2006? In the same way that it’s virtually impossible to predict if you’re going to win that next pitch or pick up that award, it’s similarly tricky to forecast the progress of the industry over the coming year.

There are some things that seem like safe bets.

The increasing proliferation and fragmentation of channels through which to communicate with consumers, continues to pose the greatest threat to mainstream advertising, as brands seek to build more intimate and dynamic relationships with their audiences via direct and increasingly niche means. ‘Traditional’ ad agencies will need to embrace and exploit the creative opportunities that these (not very) new channels present, or face losing briefs, clients and revenue to the new media specialists that too often trade primarily in application, rather than inspiration.

Finding great people (even good would suffice) will remain a problem. Art directors that have the ability to make their work look great, rather than just themselves; account handlers that can think, not just do; new business people that, well, generate new business. The trick is to cherish the good ones you’ve already got – spot bright, young talent early, and give it the opportunity to flourish.

The perceived divides between North and South, large and small, is unlikely to shrink dramatically. Brave thinking and outstanding creativity is about the kind of people, and not how many, that make up your agency. And a W1 postcode doesn’t necessarily mean A1 service.

But there are two things that we can be 100 per cent certain of. The first throes of Summer will see brands, large and small, tiresomely jumping the football bandwagon as World Cup fever strikes, strangely coinciding with record levels of absenteeism in agencies the length and breadth of the country. Ringing in sick as a parrot, so to speak.

Nicky Unsworth, Partner, BJL

2005 has been a busy year for BJL in all sectors, and the signs are that 2006 will be just the same. But, while client businesses feel buoyant, the pressures on them feel more intense. They operate in increasingly challenging markets where their audiences, whether consumers or businesses, are faced with options. The budgets are there, but they need to go further and work harder! Client marketing teams are challenged to contribute to business success, rather than merely supporting it, and to deliver tangible results. The net effect is that clients are becoming increasingly sales directed and results focused. Accountability is key. And our business will continue to evolve in 2006 to reflect this.

The continuing proliferation of media and of the ways, in which consumers can interact both with each other and with brands, will lead to a growing acceptance among clients that the consumer has a key role to play in the marketing process. Hence, campaigns will need to be multi-layered – the overarching idea now has to work as hard online, in direct marketing and in ambient media as it does in press or on TV. Consumers will increasingly control when, where or even if they receive brand messages. The days of the power-advertiser monologue, urging consumers to join them, are numbered.

As consumers are becoming better informed and more empowered, clients will recognise the need to invite consumers to participate in how brands are built, and will need to use a mix of media, including the web, to reflect this.

The challenge for agencies and media independents is not only to evolve working practices that respond best to the seismic shifts in the consumer/brand relationship, but also to develop fast measurement techniques that allow us to ensure new strategies are working.


Jonathan Rigby, Partner, Love Creative

We’ll see a growth in informal creative mergers in 2006 – \"cottage industry\" style collectives of strategists, designers, illustrators, directors, writers, producers, artists, event managers, programmers. They’ll be bound together by friendship, not contracts. They’ll share the lease on office space. Or they’ll work virtually across countries and talk to each other all day for free on Skype or through an intranet or walled blog site.

The ‘big idea’ will still be the core currency, but we’ll start to dissect ‘big ideas’ into sub-categories like event-led big ideas, insight-led big ideas, and content-led big ideas and so on.

The lost art of copywriting will make a tentative comeback as out of work newspaper journalists, traditional copywriters and authors will find new outlets for their skills. Long copy ads won’t return. Instead, words will find new expression through design and art direction.

There will still be an appetite for TV commercials like the jaw-dropping quality, of the new Honda 140 second masterpiece. But a TV contractor will experiment with a new type of ad break, comprised of a series of eight second \"invites\" to join interactive brand worlds through your TV screen.

An epic 12 minute commercial (called an ad-movie) will run during the controversially extended half-time break of the World Cup Final. (When the real action finally re-commences, a late winner by Gerrard will see England beat Brazil, by the way).

\"Co-creation\" will be the buzz-word of 2006. Consumers will no longer be talked-at by advertising. They’ll be more and more involved in its creation. We’ll follow the lead being taken by campaigns like Levi’s Antidote, where the brand is providing the infrastructure and resource to showcase fanzines, blogs, events and exhibitions created by talented teenagers around the world.

But the biggest certainty for 2006? Despite lots of predictions, very little will change at all....


Nick Backhouse, Managing Partner, Direct

Marketing, McCann Erickson Communications House


As a direct marketing professional you may not be surprised to hear that I think the prospects for the industry in 2006 actually look very good.

You may, however, be somewhat surprised when I say that there is a big proviso to my first statement. Direct marketing is growing at an exponential rate, but the reality is that most marketers do not fully appreciate this

The reason is because the growth is coming from interactive programmes, but many of the people involved with interactive marketing still don\'t appreciate that core direct marketing techniques and best practices can and should be applied \'electronically\'. A brief look at a few examples proves the point: landing pages are targeted fulfillment packs’, microsites are in fact brochures or catalogues, shopping baskets are really only order forms and banners are direct response ads.

Offline direct marketing is still very healthy but the inexorable shift of spend towards online will continue into 2OO6, and so it should. The interactive channel works on a lower cost base, our knowledge of how it can be successfully integrated into multidiscipline programmes is getting better and the electronic distribution channels seem to grow by the day.

But this is where the goose and the golden eggs come into play.

Take the subject of mailings. One thing direct marketeers hang their heads in shame over, is how their industry has abused direct mail. Or junk mail as it’s called when we sheepishly explain to people at parties what we do for a living.

So are today’s direct marketeers about to recreate history with emails, by killing or at least wounding this goose and its golden eggs?

E-mails are a fantastic opportunity for DM and offer low cost, are highly flexible and can be targeted for both content and tonality – a great for two way dialogue and possibly a dream playground for direct marketeers

But what are we doing? Through over use and lack of common sense we are creating a new term. Junk \'e\'-mails, or as it more commonly known, spam. With broadband penetration still showing an inexorable rise, many consumers are realising that broadband is always on, and with that comes an increased risk from hackers, viruses and spam. Result – sales of anti-spam software is on the increase, and in the corporate world the vast majority of enterprises, of any size, now have spam filters. If we’re not careful, indiscriminate e-mail campaigns will just generate sales for software companies that offer products designed to eliminate unsolicited mail, and even those that do get through run the gauntlet presented by the delete button

So a DM resolution for 2OO6. The opportunities through better use of interactive are great, but let\'s not kill the goose.

Fergus McCallum, CEO, TEQUILA\\ Manchester

Two news articles caught my attention towards the end of 2005 – firstly, the launch of fronted by spokesperson, Alice Beer, on behalf of the DMA; and secondly the announcement by Foster’s Lager, that they were moving a significant proportion of their marketing budget away from advertising and into DM in 2006.

They are both significant stories within DM, and I believe they represent a marker for our industry – the continuing and increasing need to deliver creativity within our communications.

I’ve never met Alice Beer but I’m pleased she’s helping to \"stamp out bad practice within the industry,\" and it’s good to see the DMA actively promoting their Charter of best practice. Consumers get fed up with the junk they receive, not just because it’s badly targeted or misleading or misuses their data, but because sometimes (often) it’s just not very good.

With the pace of change in our world today, information accessibility and subsequent knowledge levels mean consumers want more from their communications; they want to be inspired by the brand experience. People are being even more demanding of their brands. They require them to deliver more than functional and image benefits; they want more than information and offers; they want entertainment from their brands and they expect to encounter them and communicate (together) through new and increasing channels.

As marketing communicators, we are ideas businesses and we must continue to increase and develop and stretch the creativity in all of our communications. We need to help brands entertain consumers, everywhere; from the point of purchase to the home, through packaging to POS, from the internet to traditional media. And through ideas, entertainment and creativity we must focus our vision on provoking a response – that of sales. At the end of the day we’re here to drive brand success.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what Foster’s come up with – the drinks market is synonymous with entertaining us with creativity in their TV ads. If they are going to continue to engage their consumers in the same way, they will need to keep up those standards through their DM work. Maybe in the future (maybe in 2006) I’ll sit in a pub and hear people talk about a DM piece in the same way they used to talk about ads – or maybe the Beers have gone to my head.


Tony Foggett, Managing Director,

Code Computer Love

One of the key shifts that Code has begun to witness during the past 12 months is the readiness of more clients to start embracing digital as a key communication channel. Needing ‘an online element to a marketing strategy’, as opposed to ‘needing a website’, is slowly becoming more commonplace. And, as online media becomes more widely adopted by consumers, this sea change needs to gather pace across 2006.

In truth it’s consumers who are largely dictating the speed at which our industry is developing. They are increasingly taking control and choosing where and when; looking for interaction, as opposed to interruption. As consumer sophistication continues to increase, so must that of the marketeers looking to reach them.

The clients who have already recognised the real potential of online and, as a result, are investing more in their digital strategy, have traditionally been those working in conversion-focused markets like insurance, finance and online shopping, where it is easier to track spend directly through to sales and lead generation.

But the tide is slowly turning and more brand owners are now waking up to the fact that online can actually help at every stage of the purchasing process – whether it’s creating awareness, generating interest, supporting purchasing decisions or actually enabling the sale, consumers are jumping on and offline throughout the process. Integrating activity will dramatically increase both the overall effectiveness of the campaign and the value of the total marketing spend.

Whileclient understanding is definitely on the up, there’s a long way to go, and online is still taking way under its potential share of the typical marketing budget. For digital agencies, the focus in 2006 must lie in hammering home to brand owners the true value of the online channel – one that has massive potential within its own right and even greater impact when integrated with a brand’s offline marketing strategy.

Lou Cordwell, Managing Director, MagneticNorth

In stark contrast to many other sectors of the marketing industry, 2005 has been a landmark growth year for the ‘new media’ industry.

It’s a simple equation – more people using interactive media for more time, means an increasing share of people’s media consumption, which in turns means that more companies want to use digital communications to reach audiences.

The result? The internet is now the fastest growing media in the history of advertising, and for those people with internet access, it has eclipsed radio to become second most popular medium in the UK.

So what’s in store for Manchester’s digital scene in 2006?

To compete at a national level it’s important that we think about the year ahead in the context of the key wider industry trends.

All indications are that we should prepare ourselves for more of the same.

Across the board, from FMCG to luxury goods, marketers are pledging larger shares of their 2006 budgets to interactive media.

The vast majority of this budget is being spent through specialist interactive agencies and, if Mr Sorrell is to be believed, then we’ll see more of the big network cheque books coming out next year as the digital specialists continue to be swallowed up.

This combination of factors will present an interesting set of challenges for clients and agencies in their interactive activity.

In an increasingly busy interactive marketplace, brands will have to be more committed and more creative if they are to attract audiences to what they have to say.

Manchester already has a strong new media scene, with a number of players who are already competing at a national and international level.

The nature of our work is such that agency location is much less relevant than in other sectors, which will allow those agencies whose work is good enough, to do more work for the UK’s biggest and brightest clients, wherever they may be located.

Next year will also bring us a year nearer to the BBC move, which will bring the UK’s largest digital investor to the city (as well as, inevitably, a raft of new interactive agencies!).

2006 is set to be another year of opportunity and challenge for everyone in ‘new media’.

For the Manchester scene, however, there is an even bigger opportunity. If we get this year right then we can take Manchester a step nearer to establishing itself as the UK’s centre of interactive excellence.

Media Planning & Buying

Mick Style, Managing Director, Mediaedge:cia

At Mediaedge:cia, we have a name for the future of marketing and for the role of communications – Active Engagement.

Active Engagement is the way brand-owners will get consumers actively engaged with their brands, leading to relevant awareness, deeper relationships and stronger sales. We think that the UK has now reached the ‘tipping point’ where technology is empowering consumers to self-schedule their media consumption, creating a media world where only genuinely engaging ideas and content will perform for brands.

Digitization of media and the opportunity to develop more advertiser related content is leading to greater opportunities for faster, more arresting, flexible, timely and relevant consumer-brand interaction. Consider a few facts when planning media in 2006:

oBroadband penetration should reach 11m homes next

year giving consumers a richer, more diverse and longer

online experience.

oGuardian Unlimited with over 2m unique users is over

four times as big as!

o7.5 per cent of the UK should have 3G phones next


oWatch out for more cross platform opportunities across

digital TV, broadband, fixed line and mobile telephony as

the NTL/Telewest merger with Virgin progresses, and

Skymedia and ITV look for commercial opportunities

with their purchases of Easynet and Friends Reunited


oA relaxation of broadcast sponsorship codes that allows

greater flexibility for the length and content of credits,

important when one considers PVR penetration is

already at 4 per cent.

oThere will be 250 digital cinema screens across the UK

by the end of 2006.

oThere should be at least 4m digital radios in homes (16

per cent penetration) by the end of 2006.

oCommercial radio has hardly begun to exploit their

programming content for advertisers.

oOut-of-home digital opportunities continue to multiply in

retail, bars, malls, transport etc, with Blue Tooth

technology being routinely sold by the six sheet


So it’s time to face the facts in 2006. The old days have gone and the old ways won’t work anymore!

Jon Hall, Director, MediaVest Manchester

It’s always tempting to forecast the great changes that we will experience in the coming 12 months ... the fact is, they seldom materialize. MediaVest’s forecasts are for a positive outlook – but with some serious storm warnings attached.

Unfortunately, the complexion of this year lies to some degree beyond the control of the media professional, and more in the wallets and mind’s of the high street shopper, and to some degree, the feet of David Beckham & Co.

Most mass-media sales directors will, like never before, have their focus squarely on Christmas sales figures as they are released by the major retailers. A good Christmas, and expect TV and national press revenues to remain flat across the first half year, a bad Xmas and there could be bloodshed. ITV will have been pleased that OFCOM have ruled out a full-scale overview of TV trading, leaving the way clear for them to whine even louder in ’06 about CRR (remember, that mechanism they invented and proposed).

National Press publishers will be keeping fingers crossed that the retail sector holds up in ’06, as they develop their undoubtedly cunning plans for the arrival of full colour product in ’07 and beyond.

As far as the rest of the media channels are concerned, don’t expect any huge revenue gains ... apart, potentially, from Digital. Hopefully, Mr Brown will manage to support consumer confidence sufficiently to maintain consumer demand, but if client budgets start to reduce, expect more money to be channelled into accountable media channels, where ROI can be delivered, and that means internet. Good news for Google, but not so good for the others!

But, then again, picture a balmy evening in Germany in July, when Rooney slots the winning penalty in the final against Brazil. The country goes wild, consumer confidence soars. Our clients make buckets of money and so do we. Let’s hope he doesn’t miss.


Charles Tattersall, managing director, Citypress PR

Next year could be a golden one for PR consultancies. The changing media landscape has elevated public relations higher up the marketing agenda.

PR consultancies are truly media-neutral and their income is derived from time-based fees rather than commission or production charges.

We’re able to capitalise on the growth of personalised marketing making the message and content relevant to individual people rather than firing out a single statement in a global mass-market campaign.

The coming of age of online media has led to an explosion in the number of media outlets open to us, all tailored to very specific audiences. As people are spending the same time on the internet as they do watching television each week, online marketing is going to overtake TV as the medium of choice for marketers.

PR agencies are best-placed to take advantage of the shift in media consumption and the amount of time we all spend online. Our position as the link between a company and its stakeholders means that we can use hundreds of different channels to get their messages across and we do it in varied ways, such as forging partnerships with third party influencers.

The number of big-hitting experienced PR consultants in regional agencies has also increased. We’re not just recruiting journalists or graduates, but from specific industries where we represent clients. This is leading to the rise of knowledge-based public relations specialising in a few key sectors and providing business advice, under the banner of PR.

And we’re often closer to our clients than other marketing disciplines because we have the dual role of reputation protection and promotion. This gives us the ear of clients at a senior level.


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