Updated: Aug 6
This is a rallying cry to the creative independents of Bristol with their innovative spirit and innate ability to collaborate, to come together and solve one of the industry's long standing challenges! When I moved to Bristol last July, following a decade in management roles in network agencies, I knew that the region was a tech hub with a growing creative industry. Channel 4 was shortly to join the BBC in the region, Aardman is a long term resident and many agencies based in the region have worked with national and global clients for years. After two decades in communications and marketing, it seemed the perfect place to set up independently, helping creative SMEs to grow through effective business operations.
What I hadn’t fully bargained on was the huge array and scale of talent in the region and the industry’s ability to flex and adapt at speed. I’ve been inspired by the ability of Bristol's agencies to collaborate. This is the beauty of agencies with deep specialisms and no interest of divergence, it allows true collaboration without the mess of territorial land grab. Excitingly, it also offers a real opportunity for the region’s independents to collectively solve a long standing industry challenge; to create truly integrated comms that deliver engagement for consumers, consistency for the brand and ROI at speed for clients.
As someone who’s led agencies, establishing teams to deliver integrated comms across specialisms, I know how challenging it can be to unite people across disciplines and create new ways of working in order to deliver strategy and creative that is truly integrated. Resilience and internal behaviour change is required and whilst integration has gone through many re-brandings, (360 thinking, Big idea thinking, holistic, end to end customer journeys), as an industry we often struggle to truly deliver it.
It’s one reason, why we’ve seen an increase in in-house agencies, delivering specific disciplines and why Management Consultancies have been quick to buy up our creative hot shops, adding their expertise in process and commercial thinking and commoditising what is ours to do.
We are all familiar with the client cry of ‘faster, cheaper, better’ which came with the birth of digital and continued as we initially looked to adapt the deep craft of TV production for social channels. Speak to most senior marketing clients, and a joined up offering with the promise of cost efficiencies that go with it, is key in selecting an agency partner. Small independent agencies with their deep specialisms, lack of departmental competing targets and their ability to work together, are brilliantly placed to deliver on this and in doing so set out a blue print for an alternative model. The disproportionately young employee work force that make up the majority of Founder led businesses in the region and the comparatively low cost of living that brings high quality work at a lower cost to clients, are also huge advantages for regional independents in the current climate.
Covid has blown away geographical barriers and opened up the opportunity for a more international work force and client base. Married with the fact that Marketing Directors find themselves with severely reduced budgets, now is an exciting time for those regional agencies willing to take decisive action, to leverage their advantage, couple up and connect with clients further afield.
And so, a rallying cry to the independent agencies of the South West, to come together and form a Collective with a shared purpose! Retaining independence, but combining different skills and deep specialisms to deliver as one for clients on projects.
To those time and budget pressed clients needing to maximise marketing budgets like never before, an invitation to look further afield, choose a specific strategic challenge to tackle, get in touch and tap into the wealth of independents that a Collective of this sort has to offer.
Covid has given us a chance to shake things up and create a different way of doing things. There is much for the taking, for those prepared to be brave. The potential for Bristol and its Collective to reach an ever wider base of clients and combine expertise is huge. Let’s grab it with open arms.