Manchester is already regarded as one of the creative hot spots of the UK. But this reputation is growing – fast. And with the MediaCityUK development in Salford now almost fully operational, the creative kudos of the area is only set to grow. So, to find out more about what’s really going on in the city, The Drum put a series of pertinent questions to a number of agencies that operate at the coal-face of Manchester’s creative industry.
How is the industry changing in Manchester? Is the change fuelled by digital?
Simon Landi, MD, Access Advertising Digital is still fuelling the change, because it’s accountable and delivers short term results – but it’s the medium and long term that will re-shape the industry locally (and nationally for that matter). With so many people focused on surviving and the short term game – I’m not sure they’ll all be around in 18 months when the media channels will have stabilised and returned to a more balanced level.
Julian Gratton, Managing Director & Creative Director, Red C Absolutely. Digital has been the revolution that this industry needed to make our ideas more effective. How we can use data to target and get the right message to the right people at the right time has made us all more accountable. It’s still changing and the agencies that are quickest to adapt will be the ones that survive… it’s just a shame that some award ceremonies are blind to this and refuse to change with the industry.
Paul Casey, Internet Marketing Manager, 11 Out Of 10 The industry is being more affected by mobile technologies and integrating this into the overall digital strategy is becoming increasingly important for businesses and brands. There is a clear need for a mobile strategy as consumers continue to use mobile apps and mobile search more and more. Our industry trends will always be based around how consumers interact with brands, and ensuring that you are at the forefront of the latest developments is crucial to stay ahead of the competition.
Reuben Webb, Creative Director, IAS B2B Digital is offering more sophisticated ways of tracking performance, and that’s definitely driving change. But if I can plug B2B here, that’s one of the biggest emerging changes in Manchester. There are several decent agencies having a good go at specialising in B2B and the sector is getting much more recognition – last issue of The Drum is testament to that!
Fergus McCallum, CEO, TBWA\Manchester The industry we are in is always changing. The change is not fuelled by digital, it is fuelled more by how people evolve in the way they communicate and their expectations of the relationships they have with brands. Digital is a significant part of that, but only a part. To us digital is a means, not the message and so ultimately we're still in the business of shaping people's behaviour and the tool kit just keeps expanding.
Christian James, Managing Director, The If Agency
Digital is still fuelling much of the change, but it’s now digital thinking rather than execution.
Mike Moran, MD, MojoFuel The industry is very exciting at the moment. The Internet is such a powerful medium, but coupled with that you have the advent of amazing technology. Tablets, smart phones, Internet-enabled televisions, 3D vision, immersive environments and digital surfaces all have a major part to play in the next few years. Content will still be king but the number of digital platforms on which it is delivered will continue to increase and evolve. This will give audiences more choice on how they wish to receive their content, whether it be information, social, entertainment or marketing.
The other consideration is content quality - as technology flies forward the user experience is only getting better and better.
Saul Peake, Managing Director, Nimble Jack No. Change is being fuelled by the economy. Or rather it isn’t being fuelled at all. Brand campaigns are a thing of the past unless you’re a Goliath. Most clients are looking for measurable product-focused activity which is what, arguably, has sustained the digital revolution. Would SEM and its children really be so important if the market was flushed with money? If budgets were growing rather than shrinking wouldn’t VOD and digital outdoor be the growth areas alongside traditional above the line media? Digital is an essential part of the mix but I don’t know a marketing director in the world who excitedly points at a Google Adwords campaign and says “I done that” despite what the CPC might be.
Steve Peters, Code Computerlove The emergence of mobile technologies and the marriage of mobile with social media is really where the story is moving to. Mobile internet access will overtake desktop access in 2012, which will have a significant influence on the way in which brands can and must speak to their customers.
Garry Byrne, MD, Reading Room Manchester Digital is going to be a major factor in the creative sector for some time yet - we are yet to hit saturation point in terms of the ways we can possibly connect to users through social and viral, and once we get there there's going to be a chunk of time whereby we discover the ones that really work - only then will we start to look at alternative avenues. The truth is, digital will likely never go away - it's such a fundamental shift in the way we live and work that the entire creative industry should be focusing on it for some time to come.
Phil Marshall, Owner, Shoot The Moon Like for like, clearly, digital will show the largest % growth, but it’s not so in real terms. The digital industry has fragmented over the last few years, opening up opportunities for agencies to develop/diversify into specialist areas of it – this is in many ways driven by the increased digital knowledge of the client base.
The term 'Full–Service Agency’ translates as non-specialist for a growing number of clients, so it’s important to know what you are good at, stick to it and offer consistent quality in all services offered.Successful accounts are the ones you remain very close to; where the agency has a real connection with not only the brand but also the team within it and other agencies involved. More and more we are working alongside other specialist agencies to create the ‘Total Resource’. This takes investment, but is now absolutely necessary to build a productive long- standing relationship.
Gareth Wright, Director, The Little Black Book Agency Digital is and will be at the heart of the changing creative industry for some time, although the opportunity for growth is much more about other disciplines, (PR, design etc) working with digital and creating true 360° engagement. Mobile is obviously a big area for change and I look forward to seeing more brands engaging through this medium into 2012.
Paul Heaton, Creative Director, Reform Creative I think the industry is levelling out now in regard to digital and print as we come out of the recession. Some businesses have increased digital work and reduced print, and some have realised the value of print and reduced their digital dependence. The main change is that clients are realising the effect of cheap and cheerful and are returning to increased budgets to regain quality and value.
Wayne Silver, Director of New Business, One Marketing Communications Definitely digital is at the heart of the marketing evolution. I think the challenge is to truly integrate it so that clients see the benefit of connecting, for example, social media strategy with digital implementation across Facebook and Twitter. Or the best practice principles of emarketing design and execution whilst remaining true to an overall marketing strategy. Digital is really coming of age because it is also becoming a driver of social change and that’s not really because of elegant and functional website design, it’s because in our everyday lives we are seeing the impact of social media channels - from the early coverage of the Arab Spring to the announcement about the closure of the News of the World. Even my mum is talking about Twitter and she is in her 70s.