Secondary Cities

By The Drum, Administrator

February 28, 2006 | 8 min read

During a recent meeting with a well-established and substantially-sized advertising agency, based in one of the UK’s arguably less cosmopolitan cities, a request was made to Adline. When reporting on said agency in our esteemed publication, we were asked if it would it be possible to avoid mentioning the firm’s location in fear that the agency would come across as being \"too parochial\".

Whether or not the agency was right in making such a request remains to be seen, but it is a startling indication of the prejudice some agencies find from being in a city that’s not Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham or Newcastle. It’s true that these cities do have visible and often vocal marketing communities that ensure that it’s not just London that has a ‘scene‘, but there are other cities and there are other agencies.

Starting our tour of some of these cities, we begin in the South West of the country. Bath is home to some of the most talented designers in the country and the performance of the city’s agencies over the last year is a testament to this. Take Northbank Design, for example, which has been appointed to handle branding for the redevelopment of Southgate in the city, the design of Journey Latin America’s travel brochures and the creation of a 64-page book for Phase Two of Chiswick Park. Add to this the consultancy’s appointment to the design rosters of The British Council and Dyson and it’s looking like a busy year ahead for the firm.

Another design agency plying its trade in picturesque Bath is Blue Marlin, which has an enviable client base that includes Nestle, Unilever and Shell. In the last twelve months, the agency has produced award-winning packaging for the likes of Cow & Gate, EFAMOL and OMSCO.

At The English Group, another of Bath’s high-fliers and one of the most heavily lauded boutique design agencies in the UK, it’s been yet more success. The firm has created a limited edition book for attendees of 2005’s CBI conference, another limited edition book commemorating the career of Cornel Lucas, one of the British film industry’s most respected photographers, and has retained the coveted BAFTA account for the third consecutive year. One of the firm’s biggest wins of the year, however, was its appointment by Penguin Books.

Also in Bath, South, the FMCG specialist creative agency, has enjoyed success winning Vitacress and a seven-figure contract from Onken to take its Smooch product onto TV.

Over in Oxford, it’s JJ that’s leading the way. The agency has continued to work on briefs for Ramada, Halcourt and DHL Global Mail, as well as handling two significant projects for British Gas Business. JJ took its 2004 offline work for the client online and doubled traffic to the organisation’s website. Consolidating its relationship, British Gas Business tasked JJ with producing its brand guidelines in a bid to achieve consistency across all communications.

In Cambridge, 49-strong WAR (Ware Anthony Rust) has grown in numbers as well as in clients, picking up a raft of new business wins. Corgi Toys has tasked the agency with developing an interactive website to commemorate the company’s 50th anniversary, while it also continues to handle Corgi Toys’ PR account. Maidenhead-based Johnson & Johnson has also tasked WAR’s dedicated healthcare team with developing an integrated marketing campaign for its leading brands. Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, Huntsman and Val Dal have also appointed WAR to handle recent on and offline marketing projects.

Next up is Parenthesis, the Coventry-based design and advertising agency, which in the last year has won contracts with Alliance & Leicester and OSRAM, a leading manufacturer of lighting products. While details on the former have continued to be kept under wraps, OSRAM has contracted the agency to plan direct marketing strategy and a further two projects. Existing client Coventry School of Art and Design has also commissioned Parenthesis to follow up its Cream Award-winning work with a course-specific guide for the Fashion and Textiles department.

Meanwhile, Connect Advertising in Wolverhampton has been busy working on projects for a number of clients including an integrated customer-acquisition campaign for Masterlease. The campaign, targeting companies with 30-350 vehicles, proved to be a major success and raised the firm’s profile among its potential customers. In other news for Connect, National Express tasked the firm with handling nationwide activity back in May, which has been ongoing, and one of the UK’s leading yacht manufacturers, Sealine International, has launched a pan-European campaign courtesy of the Midlands agency.

In Stoke-on-Trent, Ad One has enjoyed an impressive influx of new business, with wins and subsequent campaign activity for The Portman Group, North West LSC and Bridgemere. The advertising agency has also taken the University of Central Lancashire on television over the past twelve months.

Over in the East Midlands, across the three main cities of Nottingham, Leicester and Derby, agencies continue to demonstrate the unimportance of their location. In Nottingham, agencies such as BC-S (and sister agency GBCS PR), Sellers & Rogers and Purple Circle continue to thrive on local and national business. BC-S has enjoyed a series of wins, including Freeth Cartwright and Interfleet, as well as the multi-channel marketing campaign for Pirelli Equities’ Central Tyre brand, which featured outdoor, press, door drops and direct mail. GBCS PR has also continued to grow with OnCourse Innovation Leadership Programme, The Wilson Organisation, UTStarcom and Glenayre all appointing the consultancy.

Sellers & Rogers, celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, won four contracts in as many weeks with Artex, Prem Group, Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service and Alltech. The wins followed earlier success when the agency landed the advertising, design and PR account for Hilly Billy powered golf trolleys.

Also enjoying recent success in Nottingham is Purple Circle, which was appointed to the Advantage West Midlands roster last year. The design agency also launched the Nottinghamshire branding and developed a name and visual identity for Three Thinking: a campaign to bring inward investment into Derby, Leicester and Nottingham.

Over in Norwich, Turton Design and Advertising is flying high with the recent Norwich International Airport win. A four-way pitch that took place in December has led to the agency being briefed with handling a campaign that will include online, outdoor, press and radio activity. Other news has included being added to the packaging roster for Lidl and landing contracts with Smithfield Foods, HRP and Akzo Nobel.

There’s been further success in Leicester, particularly from Big Communications and Fuse Digital. The sibling firms have continued to enhance their already major reputations with a seemingly endless string of new business activity. British Heart Foundation (BHF), Thompson Family Teas and Amtico have all appointed Big over the last year and that’s not to mention the continued stream of campaign work with longstanding clients such as Bahlsen and Morphy Richards. Likewise, Fuse has enjoyed further success, picking up the online brief for BHF and the entire Lucozade portfolio.

Recent wins for Derby-based McConnells include Burton College, a sixth form, FE and HE college that was looking for a genuinely fresh and creative approach to recruitment and advertising material. Plus, the agency has also won two new PR clients in the legal industry, South Yorkshire-based solicitors Atteys and Derby-based Robinsons.

Off to Preston next, to drop in on NXO. In the past year the agency has delivered marketing support for SAPCA (Sport and Play Construction Association), provided branding for CIM’s North West Student Competition and been hired as strategic marketing partner for Juno Racing, the UK-based racing car designer.

And finally to Sheffield, where a small collection of independent agencies are making noise throughout marketing land. Take Dig For Fire, which in the last year has been appointed as lead direct agency for Co-operative Financial Services and picked up a chunk of the Amtico business. Consolidating the agency’s successes have been further new business acquisitions with Bravissimo and ENCAMS.

Similarly, Uber has been making waves on campaigns for Morphy Richards, React, Top Up TV and Interface Europe over the last term, as well as working with the likes of DfES (Department for Education and Skills), B.Braun and Jamdat Mobile.

Iris, another of Sheffield’s leading creative outfits, has a client-base that includes the DfES, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Manchester Airport and The University of Nottingham. Over the last year, it’s been projects such as the rebranding of ProCo and Bond Bryan, as well as a marketing brief for Business Link South Yorkshire and the Design Council that has made the agency really stand out from the crowd.

On the digital front, Sheffield’s Quba New Media has added further work to its client base with Channel 4, Ideal Standard, Sealine and Doncaster Education City. The firm also continues to handle contracts with NHS, Callserve and Porter Novelli.

And that, folks, is all we have time for. We hope this gives you a snap shot of what’s been going on and of the quality that resides in the parts of the country you never even thought to look at.


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