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 how agencies attract talent away from nearby London.
Talent: Agencies in the Midlands are competing with nearby London
Martin Heffernan, creative director, Chapter: By caring as much as they do – but offering something different. They want to work on great brands. They want to be inspired. And they want to feel that they’re part of something, not just another cog in the machine. That’s why at Chapter, we don’t compartmentalise creatives and suits. They sit and work closely together for the benefit of their clients. That stimulates ideas, innovation – and a far more rounded approach for every assignment. And that’s far more important than a postcode.Simon Morris, MD, Bareface Media: Talent has always been drawn to the bright lights of London, yet this doesn’t have to be the case, as we benefit from having several high quality universities and colleges right on our doorstep. Organisations such as the IPA and their Creative Alliance initiative are spearheading a drive to inspire young talent to look at the opportunities open to them locally. Creating the right working environment is essential to fostering creative hotspots; the region benefits from areas such as the Custard Factory and The Jewellery Quarter. These provide facilities that appeal and nurture talent and compete with anything London has to offer in Soho and Shoreditch.Mat O'Connor, MD, R1 Creative: It's mainly Manchester, Birmingham and Derby who seem to be reaping the talent bank from where we are. Our approach has been to work with the universities in our area to provide a working environment to hone their skills and, at the end of their course, take them on to our own agency before the glitter of London grabs them.Alan Cooper, founder, Freestyle Interactive: Many people in their late 20s and early 30s have had enough of the city rat race and look to the Midlands to provide a better balance – same inspiring work, great teams to work with, less commuting, better views. This is where the diverse locations of agencies comes into its own – we are dotted around in converted barns or Georgian houses, in creative hubs and innovative spaces so they can really appeal to those experienced ‘2nd/3rd jobbers’. It also means, typically, staff retention is better as there is often a greater commitment to the region once the move is made. Of course, the numbers are lower and there’s a danger of Midlands Agency merry-go-round, but the range, quality and potential of the agencies in the region means the barriers are continually dropping to the right candidates moving away from London.Antony Green, MD, Connect: In truth, we now have a more cosmopolitan workforce than ever, and it’s not just London that delivers the talent – we have some great people from China, the US, France, Ukraine, Spain etc as well as a bunch of highly committed and talented folks from here in the UK. There are more examples of well known and well respected agencies all around the world for whom location, wherever it might be, has not been an issue. When it comes down to it, it’s big name clients, great work and the culture, vision and camaraderie of the people that make an agency a great place to work – far more so than the postcode.”The Drum Midlands regional feature is sponsored by Chapter