As part of a series of regional reviews, The Drum catches up with Midlands agencies from a cross-section of the marketing services industries to find out what the region’s strengths are.
Focus: Birmingham is a popular location
Dean Lovett, CEO, McCann Central: Digital integration and lower costs. Midlands agencies are investing heavily in digital, making it an integral part of their offering. It’s now a compelling reason for clients to leave London; a wealth of agencies which can develop award-winning campaigns which span both on and offline. The second is our cost base – typically 20 per cent lower than our London competitors. With London salaries accelerating at a disproportionate rate, Midlands agencies can provide clients with far better value for money.Alan Cooper, founder, Freestyle Interactive: Being a region where many agencies are spread over a wide geographical area with no distinct hubs, the introduction of embryonic BIMA into the Midlands and the MiNetwork regional events has brought a forging of new relationships between agencies. This is bringing strength to the region for the industry generally, and will help both start-up businesses and less experienced talent have access to resources and support.Karen Bernie, MD, Wyatt International: It’s clear that a lot of regional agencies are banging the digital drum. It’s part of our offer certainly – some 30 per cent of our people are now engaged in content marketing – but I really think clients are looking for more. I believe there are two real opportunities, both in branding. The first lies in what I call ‘inside out’ engagement, or connecting and driving brands both internally and externally. The second is helping businesses succeed internationally. Both involve fully integrated, brand led B2B communications, and the fact we’re a full service agency with international experience means we’re in a strong position to do this very effectively. Antony Green, MD, Connect: There’s been a real groundswell of strong digital talent emerging over the past few years and it’s been interesting to note how a number of large and respected tech-based businesses have been shifting operations to Birmingham in particular, in order to benefit from the growing labour pool. It’s encouraging to see that the city of Birmingham is actively targeting inward investors with messaging around the growing level of expertise in this space, and it can only bode well for the future.Simon Morris, MD, Bareface Media: The last couple of years haven’t been easy as we all know, however agencies in the Midlands seem to have ridden out the storm surprisingly well. Many agencies have demonstrated their resilience by getting smarter with their clients' budgets and focusing hard on returns. Increased competitiveness amongst agencies for the work on offer has meant that overall the quality of creative has benefitted. Agencies have also focused hard on tapping into the ever-increasing opportunities in the digital sector; this is a particular strength emerging in the Midlands.Mat O'Conner, MD, R1 Creative: For the Staffordshire area there is a definite boost in digital services and even more so further afield in Manchester and Birmingham, which for us is showing a much more rounded marketing approach for the big companies.The Drum Midlands regional feature is sponsored by Chapter