George Parker: think small and think up north

Readers of both MoreAboutAdvertising and AdScam will be more than familiar with my ongoing obsession with how the BDHC’s (Big Dumb Holding Companies) have managed to destroy what was once a great business that allowed you to get pissed, drugged and laid at a BDA’s (Big Dumb Agency) expense. You can see my presentation on the subject, and my suggested solution to a 4 A’s Conference (Which I had previously described as a Giant Wank Fest) on this inspiring video.

Just when I had abandoned all hope that the ad biz could be rescued from its ever increasing rate of descent down the rancid tubes of a bookies’ shitter (Train Spotting homage) things are starting to improve. This thanks to the increasing recognition by clients that bigger is not necessarily better and you don’t have to cough up the big bucks in order to pay for the Croesus-like life styles of the agency principals who think that London and New York are the center of the universe.

Over at MediaPost, Dave Morgan has a wonderful piece… Future of Agency Business is with Small and Mid-Sized Regionals in which he states… The most important factor in being a great agency is no longer having a big, global balance sheet and a public listing. It is about having the best talent, and a lot of younger folks who started their careers at large city agencies are now moving to smaller cities as they start families and look for more control over their careers. In both the UK and the US, small and mid-sized regional independents are asserting themselves. As the BDHC’s reduce their levels of service, laying off talent, entering into opaque deals that undermine their clients’ trust — regional independents are stepping up.

As posited in a recent Drum article… What is often overlooked is that employees working outside the city don’t find a significant chunk of their salaries absorbed in travel costs or eye-wateringly expensive rounds at the pub. I’ll drink to that. All the reasons for this growing trend are well summed up in this piece from Manchester based, PRAgencyOne… “Northshoring Your PR.”

With clients in London, Amsterdam, Malta, Ireland, China and the US, geography is not an inhibiting factor on the success of their business. The piece also points out that Northshoring is not just about the ad biz, many large corporations relocate or move large parts of their operations out of London to cut costs and increase spending power. The definition also covers the supply chain, where large companies are choosing suppliers outside the overinflated and – some might say – overrated London bubble. The BBC, Burberry, KPMG, Freshfields, DLA Piper, and Ernst & Young all operate in a major way from Manchester. Even Google, Amazon and Microsoft are in on the act. Plus, the tripe is much fresher up there.

As a born and bred Mancunian, I am happy to know that no longer do well-worn couches and prams float on the purple waters of the River Irk at the bottom of Factory Lane where I grew up. The factory in question was the ICI Dyestuffs division that daily dumped its multi-colored residues in the river. Mind you, this didn’t stop the locals from fishing in it. Purple fish and chips make a change from tripe.

As my favorite line from “The Full Monty” puts it so well… “There’s nowt sa queer as folk.”. Mind you, that was Yorkshire, so what can you expect?


  1. James… Now that confuses me. If I were living in Britain, I would be red if that means socialist. Living in America, I am blue, which means Democrat, which is a massively watered down form of socialism. Trust the Americans to get everything arse backwards. On the other hand, are you referring to today’s colour of the River Irk? I am confused. Time for a breakfast beer with my morning tripe. Preferably a Boddingtons, although it is now no longer brewed in Manchester, next to Strangeways Jail… Providing cruel and unusual punishment for the inmates.

  2. The property prices in Manchester are testament to how well it’s going. Speaking to Obi Property the other week, they reckon that 10 years ago, it was finance taking up the square footage but now it’s digital in all its’ flavours driving the property industry. But you will also be pleased to know that Crawford is still driving the traditional Giant Wank Fest. Digitally.

  3. Stephen… Bloody hell… I should have known that. I’ve been a United fan ever since seeing Georgie Best pissed as a rat at 3.00 AM Saturday morning in a Manchester club (The pubs closed at 10.00 PM in those days) Then scoring a hat trick at Old Trafford later that day. He was a huge boozer who used to drink six bottles of wine a day. Had a liver transplant, carried on drinking six bottles a day. Died of liver failure. What a guy!
    Simon… The whole biz is now a Giant Wank Fest.

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