Manchester focus: How has the city's agency scene changed over the last five years?

With ITV and the BBC now settled in MediaCityUK, the North West is fast becoming a creative hotbed.

And despite recieving less than half of the arts funding of London, England's second city is set for more growth.

So as part of our Blackwell's Britain series, The Drum asked a panel of indursty-experts from the area how the agency scene in Manchester has changed over the past five years?

Sue Little, CEO, McCann Manchester

If the recession has done one thing, it has driven much greater commercial focus, and I don’t just mean looking at the financials.

It has driven better practice in client service, a desire to produce more effective work, and of course it has focused businesses to really question what they do.

And this latter point has to be a great thing.

Organisations that are challenging themselves, asking questions and not accepting the status quo are far more likely to have a future in the long-term.

Nigel Papworth, managing director, Refinery

It is probably much bigger than it was five years ago, in relative terms when compared to other areas.

The growth in specialist digital has had a lot to do with this, but digital is now increasingly becoming part of an integrated offering.

In fact, all areas of creative production are becoming more integrated.

Motion graphics and video, which were once specialist services, we now do largely in-house, and the new digital publishing revolution will change much of the way consumers will view things.

Phil Rogerson, managing director, Madhouse

The agency scene has changed immeasurably – there are no barriers to trade now so the geography issues don’t exist – it’s commonplace to hear that an agency has picked up an American account or another’s picked up a large German account.

It’s great because it’s all about talent, creativity, thought process, planning and strategy, and not where the agency is or whether they’re a household name anymore.

Jon Corner, chief executive, The Landing

Over the last five or so years, we’ve seen creative agencies redefine themselves as digital agencies which means that they’re offering solutions to adjacent sectors around functionality and integration as a cornerstone of design.

For me this is one of Manchester’s great strengths - fusing innovative technical thinking with great design aesthetic – and the area for most growth particularly in health tech and retail.

Nicky Unsworth, CEO, BJL

It is truly media neutral now and at BJL we have built teams in-house to reflect this, across content, moving image, PR, engagement and more.

We’ve embraced technology and the benefits of its impact on creativity.

This piece was originally published in the 3 September issue of The Drum magazine as part of Blackwell's Britain series, exploring the creative sector of some of the UK's largest cities and regions. A copy of the magazine and the accompanying supplement can be purchased through The Drum store.

This feature was supported by the IPA and Creative Skillset.

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