Midlands focus: Agencies discuss the startup and games scenes

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 more about the startup and games scenes.

Regional view: The midlands has an established games scene

What is the start-up scene in the Midlands like?Karen Bernie, MD, Wyatt International: In B2B we’re rarely working against the pull of London. Most of our target clients are themselves outside London. There’s certainly a lot of talent in the regions, and it’s clear that digital is a key focus. I understand this totally, but I also believe there’s a hunger for more than just digital. To attract talent, I think you need to be able to integrate digital with a wider offer and hold out the promise of challenging, added value work such as high level branding. We’re attracting individuals with the prospect of more meaningful deeper strategic programmes that take clients on new journeys and add real value to their businesses in the short, medium and longer term.Martin Heffernan, creative director, Chapter: It’s high time we had another one. Start-ups are exactly what this industry needs – new blood, new ways of thinking and the passion to drive things forward. That’s why we felt the time was right for us four years ago. For the first time in decades there is no established way to do things – and the opportunities are waiting.Dean Lovett, CEO, McCann Central: Personally, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of start-ups I’ve encountered recently. The lower cost base of the Midlands, coupled with the recession, seems to have bred a culture of start-up agencies, mostly specialising in digital marketing.How important is the games industry to Birmingham and the Midlands?Dean Lovett, CEO, McCann Central: The games industry is important to the Midlands as it brings skills to the area, and positions it as a progressive, digital-savvy region. This in turn reflects on the Midland’s businesses, transforming its reputation from from industrial to technological.Alan Cooper, founder, Freestyle Interactive: The games sector is important to give some recognition of the Midlands. Unfortunately, in spite of many efforts, the Midlands is still seen as an area without a strong identity or industry community. That’s changing, with the BIMA and MiNetwork initiatives, but with several of the larger agencies in the region being a significant distance from a city centre it means there’s less chance for a strong feeling of regional specialism. The games sector isn’t necessarily seen as beneficial for agency talent, as it has few direct crossover skills, but if it serves to put Leamington or Birmingham on the map, then that’s a good thing.”The Drum Midlands regional feature is sponsored by Chapter photo Chapter_logo_zps8713ca22.jpg

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