Manchester focus: What does the city offer agencies and clients?

By The Drum Team | Staff Writer

ADZ Media

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Advertising article

June 26, 2012 | 7 min read

As part of The Drum’s series of reports on the marketing and media scene in Manchester we speak to a number of industry insiders operating in the space to gain an insight into the key issues surrounding the city emerging as a media capital.

Manchester is hailed as the second city of media and creativity, growing at a rapid rate and coming second only to London in the UK. But does Manchester offer more for clients? Are the changes and rapid growth in the city a benefit? Here The Drum asks: 'What does Manchester offer clients?'

Paul Austin, CD, ADZ Media

Balls! From industry to music and fashion, Manchester has always walked its own path. We don't have to copy London to innovate; we have our own style and our own voice. Great transport links and the fact you're guaranteed a decent cuppa just sweeten the deal.

Rob Mortimer, account planner/digital strategist, CheethamBellJWT I think the question is more what doesn’t it offer, and the answer to that is very little. Not only do we have the capabilities here to match anywhere else in the UK, we are also used to doing things with quick turnaround and smaller budgets than the big London agencies. Pound for pound, I believe, Manchester offers the best creativity in the UK.

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Garry Byrne, MD, Reading Room Manchester is, in my humble opinion, the harbinger of some of the best talent in the UK and certainly at the forefront once you exclude London. There's a wealth of innovation; of small companies focusing on something and doing it really well; supported by a disproportionate amount of large, successful agencies to support and cultivate. To have so much talent and knowledge on tap in such a small area is impossible to replicate anywhere else ... especially once you realise that all of that is no more than a 10 minute walk away from a major train station.

Cindy Simmons, MD, MPAM Clients have the opportunity of working with a diverse range of agency types – as well as some of the strongest media buyers outside of London – they should take note and support their region.

Lee Turner, MD, Fluid Creativity Manchester benefits from a fantastic infrastructure with a significant data centre capacity, which is attracting some great digital agencies to the area. This has led to competition for work in the area, which helps push up the general standards in the area. It’s ultimately the clients who benefit from this. Manchester has great companies committed to delivering high standards of work, on both the technical and creative side of things. As a result, clients receive a high return on investment which in turn leads to more and more clients signing up with agencies in the area.

There’s also a strong digital community in Manchester, with some good networking and social events available for anyone to go along to. Through these sorts of events, professionals working in agencies can share their knowledge and learn from each other, leading to a well-informed and talented workforce. I think the fact the digital community is thriving in Manchester is testament to the dedication of people working in the industry to their particular mediums, and it’s these sort of committed and knowledgeable individual’s clients want working on their projects.

Jane Hudson, MD, Forever Creative High levels of creativity and agencies who dare to be different.

Nick Rhind, CEO, CTI Digital For a client you get harder working agencies, keen to keep your work and go the extra distance. I believe it’s more competitive in Manchester as there are less briefs. If you compare it to London, many agencies don't know each other at all and you can have two 200+ agencies doing the same thing two minutes away who have never heard of each other. In Manchester you tend to know a good 80 per cent of the agencies around and what they do. I don't think it’s just the social aspect, it’s more you meet them on pitches, promotions and PR much more as you’re not so overwhelmed with the quantity.

And what does Manchester offer agencies?

Iain White, head of media, Deloitte First and foremost, marketing and media agencies thrive in cities with a creative edge and reputation, and Manchester is arguably second only to London in this regard. The result is that Manchester has a legion of small to medium-sized agencies that, due to their scale, have been quick to adapt and capitalise on changing trends and new technologies. However, there are more tangible reasons for basing a creative business in the city.

One of Manchester’s major assets over the past 15 years has been the success of its universities, which offer many media, marketing and creative-themed degrees. The city has a high graduate retention rate, too, which has improved the quality of the local workforce. Manchester offers good-quality office space in the city centre, close to clients in key sectors but there has also been a transformation in the calibre of out-of-town business accommodation. MediaCityUK is fast becoming a world-class media sector ‘hotspot’, the Sharp Project has an impressive cluster of young companies and the Airport City enterprise zone is currently in development. Alongside that is the UK’s most extensive city tram network, the busiest airport outside London and rapidly-improving broadband underpinning digital communications. In value for money terms, Manchester has perhaps the most complete business offering of any regional city.

Jane Hudson, MD, Forever Creative Great businesses to work with and a vibrant city to work in.

Karl Barker, MD, Cube3 We see Manchester as a major cultural part of the UK's city landscape. Its creative heritage is without question a beacon for attracting the right people and businesses once upon a time it was all “London, London, London”, now it's very much “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”. The BBC's migration does in effect crystallise that sentiment.

Nigel Papworth, owner, Refinery It is without doubt the second city in the UK, with lower costs and easier access than London.

Rob Mortimer, account planner/digital strategist, CheethamBellJWT For us, Manchester is the perfect location, easily accessible from all over the country, a solid foundation of creative talent and a good choice of media and production partners. Being in the centre of Manchester gives us all the advantages that agencies get by being in London with none of the disadvantages. In addition, Manchester is the ideal location to be when it comes to globally expanding clients. Thinking particularly about Chinese and Indian brands looking to enter the UK market, the flight time difference between here and London is as near as makes no difference, and if you asked the average person in Asia to name the first thing they think of about the UK – Manchester United and Manchester City would be two of the most common answers, we certainly experienced the reach of their fans when we ran The Tweet Derby for the most recent derby match!

Garry Byrne, MD, Reading Room Manchester benefits from being a small city, albeit with a big presence. We have a great transport network, served well by train and road and the tram system, alongside the inner-city free bus network, lets clients and staff alike get around quickly and easily.

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