Integrated communications agency TVC Group is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. The Drum recently spoke with group managing director, James Myers, who has spent the past 17 years with TVC, to talk about the agency's evolution to date and its plans for the future.
What was your first role with the company?
I joined TVC as an account executive when there were only eight of us and we all pitched in and did everything - from film production and account management to media relations.
What were your initial impressions of the industry - and did those prove to be true?
I was surprised by the breadth and depth of the opportunities – I didn’t realise how diverse the world of PR and comms would be. In any week I’d be doing film production, writing press releases and managing events. It was a very different world in 2001 - anyone else remember faxing out press releases?
What are the main ways in which you think the industry has changed over that time?
Where do I start? It’s a world away and you simply can’t compare. We’ve gone from the holy grail being the front page of a national and TV advertising dominating, to a digital-first world where social media rules.
How has TVC evolved as a business across its two decades? What have been the main challenges while trying to evolve in line with the marketplace?
We’ve adapted and evolved as our client briefs have broadened, undertaking work that builds on traditional PR, from developing apps and content hubs to rolling out fully integrated digitally-led campaigns. We’ve innovated to tell our clients’ stories across all channels, but we’ve never lost sight of our content roots.
In terms of challenges, we’re recruiting more people with specific marketing skills and are often competing with specialist agencies in the marketing sector.
What have been the two or three most significant moments/deals in the development of TVC?
In 2009, we made a trio of senior hires from Kindred - Adam Clyne joined as commercial director, Sarah Harris as strategy director, and Greg Lappage as creative director. It gave the business a boost and really helped us grow up quickly. Fast forward nearly 10 years and Sarah and Greg are still with the agency.
The same year we pitched for, and won, the contract to promote British Gas’ six-year sponsorship of British Swimming. It was a huge deal because we beat several of the big agencies at the time and it was our first big fully integrated account. Pretty much everyone in the agency worked on the account at some point over the six years and in 2011 we picked up a SABRE Award for our work.
Undoubtedly one of the most memorable moments was being bought by The Economist Group in March 2012.
How have you found the ‘people management’ aspect of your role? Does it come naturally to you or have you had to develop your skills over the years?
We’re a team of 45 in offices in London and New York. As we’ve grown up, the attention to people management has become more important and is a bigger part of my role. We have a really strong support network from The Economist HR team and there’s a big focus on staff development with regular group-wide training sessions.
What has been the impact of TVC’s acquisition by The Economist Group?
It has given us scale and reach across the globe, unlocked new innovation and given us the opportunity for client acquisition in new sectors through group-wide campaigns.
What are the immediate priorities for the business and the plan for the next few years?
We’re really proud of the fact that our agency structure and integrated approach was ahead of its time and is still as relevant today as it was two decades ago. But the only way to grow is to adapt and move with the times, so we’ll continue to respond to our clients’ changing needs with innovative thinking while holding onto our core values.
We’ve got big plans for the next 12 months so stay tuned.