The Drum Awards for Marketing APAC

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Yorkshire feature: Do Yorkshire-based agencies feel there are any barriers that come along with their location?


By Gillian West | Social media manager

November 26, 2013 | 6 min read

As part of The Drum’s series of UK regional reviews, we caught up with those working across Yorkshire’s creative marketing industries- Extreme Creations, INK Digital, Hatch Communications, DMSQD, Jaywing, Sun Branding Solutions, Coolpink, Epiphany, Rare and Intermarketing – in order to find what if Yorkshire agencies feel helped or hindered by their location.

Do you find any barriers to being based in Yorkshire? Antony Prince, MD, Extreme Creations: There are few barriers, only positives. We’ve quadrupled the size of the team since 2008 and are working with some of the region’s best brands on a local, national and international basis. We can be in London in two hours and recently flew out to Belgium to see a client from Leeds/Bradford Airport, which is 25 minutes away. Many of Extreme Creations’ clients are of course pleased that we can pass a saving onto them by being ‘up north’, and in many cases, easier to meet with on a regular basis.Dawn Davis, head of digital strategy, INK Digital: Quite the opposite, we're the middle of the country – a handy two hours from London by train and great M62 / M1 links. Technology and transport mean there are no barriers…well apart from the broad accent! Jason Madeley, owner, Hatch Communications: Honestly? No. If you think there are barriers to being based in Yorkshire then you clearly aren’t working hard enough. There are barriers everywhere, if you are using the excuse that “it’s because we’re based in Yorkshire that we didn’t win the work” then you are simply kidding yourself. Location should never be a barrier. You win clients with your work, your team and your ability to deliver. Mark Asquith, director, DMSQD: There’s a stigma with Barnsley, not necessarily Yorkshire, that is slowly being overturned - where it was once a vibrant mining town, it is now becoming a vibrant hub of creative talent - the town just needs to believe in itself again. Whilst we haven’t come across any specific boundaries, winning certain projects like the Art Directors’ Club project made people sit up and realise that you don’t need to be in London or Manchester anymore to work with global brands.Martin Boddy, chief executive, Jaywing: We work nationwide with a lot of blue chips so geography is secondary for us. Plus there are significant benefits to being outside of London, such as our ability to be cost effective. We're also pretty grounded so our ideas are both beautifully crafted and well-conceived with real substance. We're one of biggest agencies in the region and that helps us to attract amazing talent, including a fair amount who are done with living in London. And while we have people in Sheffield, Jaywing has four other locations as well as fifty data scientists who work virtually. Technology is a huge enabler but internal culture is far more important; we balance office locations with virtual working so are pretty well-versed in how to make it work. We're also pretty well connected in Yorkshire with excellent transport links to the rest of the UK. Martin O’Toole, commercial director, Coolpink: None whatsoever. Though we’re spending a lot of time in and out of London at the moment, which would be easier if East Coast Rail got their act together…Paul Bean, MD, Sun Branding Solutions: I’m biased – I’m born and bred in Yorkshire, and there’s something very honest, pragmatic and wryly humorous about the people up here. But while Yorkshire’s creative sector has grown, I’m pragmatic enough to understand that it’s unlikely to compete with London if only because getting clients to come up here can be a problem. Schedules today are so busy that time spent travelling is frowned upon unless you can prove demonstrable value. Having said that, we are seeing more clients opting for smaller, more agile and freer-thinking agencies based up here.Rob Shaw, CEO, Epiphany: Not at all. The agency was created in Leeds but now operates offices in London and we also created a new agency over in Sydney Australia. Leeds is a hotbed of digital and creative talent. I think it comes from the fact that the city has three excellent universities and is a great place for young people to want to live and to do business. Leeds also forms a great central hub for talent, we have staff who travel in from Hull, Sheffield, York and Manchester.It’s the same in cities like York and Sheffield – university cities with good cultural scenes and geared to young people. The strong services economy means that Leeds was more protected than many cities from the worst ravages of recession and austerity. That means that Yorkshire is a great place for digital and creative companies to establish themselves – we’re surrounded by highly educated people who want to set up home in the region.Steve Bellingham, managing director, Rare Creative Group: No, our location works well for us. Although the world has become smaller through the rise of digital communication it still holds true that clients will select an agency based primarily on either industry specialism or local proximity. At Rare we work extensively in the construction, renovation and home improvement sector and our reputation and track record of success with helping manufacturers increase market share via channel marketing programmes mean that distance is not an issue. Based in Sheffield, we are also handily placed to get to a large chunk of the country within a couple of hours or so.We also work with many local companies, across multiple sectors, where clients are looking for both quality work and local convenience. Steve Sowden, managing partner, Intermarketing: There always seems to limited support from the local government to help start new things. People are busy too so getting together to discuss problems and opportunities is an all too rare occasion. However, we are blessed with good transport links, wonderful universities providing great talent and a wealth of brands who should be investing in the region, so the barriers we face should be few and far between – I’m not sure it’s that simple though.This article originally featured in the 22 November issue of The Drum which can be purchased from The Drum Store.The Drum's Yorkshire regional feature is sponsored by Epiphany.

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