Has the Yorkshire agency landscape changed much over the past year?

Brass' creative work for Ribena

Despite tough economic conditions, Yorkshire’s creative reputation continues to flourish. The Drum met with a cross-section of Yorkshire agencies to discuss the state of the creative sector in the region.In the first of a series of questions posed, we asked: has the Yorkshire agency landscape changed much over the past year?

Glenn Patterson, managing director, IntermarketingObviously there are a few of the established names that aren’t around anymore, and it feels unusual for us at Intermarketing with 55 staff to be described as one of the larger agencies. With a number of companies reducing their marketing departments there has been a greater dependency on agencies to support clients in areas outside their own core marketing functions. This has opened up new channels to market for them with solutions often coming from untapped or unusual places with great results.Graham Congreve, director, Evolution PrintMergers and acquisitions, with a few failures. There are some very promising new local agencies too. Andy Weir, managing director, We Are It’s never been more important to ensure that you can offer added value and prove your ideas can get results. Clients want to pay less, for what can feel like more stuff. As a start-up agency, we’ve been able to stay competitive by offering big brand experience combined with small business efficiencies – plus a genuine hunger to always exceed expectations and ensure we are successful. Alf Lombardi, managing director, Shrewdd MarketingCustomers are keen to get value for money - more ‘bang for the buck’, which is having an impact on agencies as well as customer expectations Rob Colley, managing director, Plump Digital Some of the larger agencies have been bitten badly by rapid growth which became unsustainable during the recession. This has perhaps led to agencies being more cautious about the selection of staff and clients in order to secure their futures. We’re seeing more opportunities for smaller agencies - perhaps brought on by the cutbacks in client spend. We’ve also seen opportunities to work for London-based clients which is encouraging for Northern agencies.Ian Winterbottom, director, Our Agency Absolutely. Many business are keeping projects inhouse. Every one has a colleague who “knows a bit about the web”, or “is an amateur photographer”. Creativity has become commoditised and clients increasingly fail to understand the value of thinking. Simon Bollon, director, Boutique Media We all know Brilliant faced a tough time and have come out the other end rejuvenated and more aligned to the market, Mediavest Leeds and Manchester have been rebranded as Carat and Feathers has been swallowed by Carat. I think we are now seeing a clearer separation between ‘big’ agencies and ‘small’ agencies. Sadly the big boys need billings so we have seen them pitch for business they would previously have had no interest in. That doesn’t serve clients or the market and it stifl es creativity. The digital marketplace continues to evolve with recognised businesses failing (AWA) whilst smaller agencies have seen signifi cant growth (Zeal Digital). This evolution will no doubt continue for at least another 18 months whilst the market evolves further.Jo Swann, Managing director, Chocolate PR I think it’s interesting to see more acceptance of collaboration between inter-discipline agencies. As clients demand more for their budgets they turn to specialists in their fi eld, perhaps more than full service agencies. We’ve been involved in several campaigns in this way, and whereas previously services would have been white branded, for fear of unnerving the client, not transparency is seen as an attraction. Mark Bower, managing director, Coolpink: More traditional agencies seem to be trying to bolt digital on to their offering. At times this is natural evolution but often it is an afterthought to increase fees. However, most agencies are now realising that they need to provide specialist knowledge of their fi elds alongside the sectors they work in. Jason Madeley, founder, Hatch Communications I actually think there has been a shift of work to ownermanaged agencies with work fl owing from the regional offi ces that are part of national/worldwide groups. I put this down to budget pressure and clients demanding more value, senior resource and increased service levels. John Morgan, chief executive, BrassA lot is the same, some things are different. Agencies will always expand or contract as clients come and go, but there has been some fragmentation with more niche specialists emerging, especially in the online area, and the larger agencies evolving their model to meet the needs of a changing marketplace. We’re seeing more small design and creative studios set up - probably refl ecting the change in client budgets. From our perspective, we see being a genuine specialist in many different areas a real strength; clients increasingly want joined-up thinking and advice across multiple channels. The trick is to nurture specialist skills and teams, but not to have structures that are so siloed that they prevent collaboration and integrated thinking. A lot of clients are also looking at that their own internal marketing structures to make this possible. Jonathan Leafe, managing director, Strawberry Publishing and print is down but more than compensated for branding upgrades and new media.Sponsored byBoutique mc

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