If you're not from the UK, it's unlikely you will understand the significance of working outside London.
Especially if you're a planner.
It's not like many other countries where good agencies and talent are spread around. In the UK, most of the good jobs and the talented people are concentrated in its capital city.
Now, you would expect companies in other cities to find some sort of competitive advantage, pehaps make damn sure they do it at LEAST as well as the London lot.
As a mimimum, be hungrier, work harder and scrap for every piece of business going.
But expectations are rarely matched with reality. If there's one thing that characterises agencies outside of London, it's complacency.
I've been critical in the past of agency folk in London, who don't get outside of their bubble. Who talk about marketing or, even worse, social media,rather than the issues, hopes and dreams of the people they're trying to sell to. Or even mentioning selling stuff.
Much of that is still fair. But at least they're trying to push things. At least they're interested in craft. Sometimes a little pretentiousness, embracing a bit of complexity or just reading stuff can go a very long way.
There's still a big opportunity for folks outside of London. They should be doing the 'integrated thing' a lot better London folk, because they've been doing it for years. The fake divisions don't exist out here.
It's just that 99% of it isn't any good.
There are so many London outfits dining out on their postcode.
Not the strength of their work.
So few genuine IDEAS agencies rather 'ad agencies pretending to be otherwise', or discipline specific design, digital social media (Jesus) or whatever else agencies.
So few that apply the level of thought and creativity you get and can still in 'advertising' outfits.
There are pioneers of course, you know who they are. BBH, Mother, W+K, Albion etc. But they're expensive and, well based in London.
Masses of client companies, not London based, put up with the distance because they feel there is no alternative.
No one with the mix of planning intelligence, creative magic and passion for business building ideas, rather than artificial discipline or media 'lines' or forcefields.
Who also offer a postcode outside London, with the reduced cost, reduced arrogance and reduced superiority complex.
Who just get on with it.
Nope, little of the integrated work outside of London comes from rigour, innovation, or even real business thinking. It comes from accepting the crumbs that fall North of the Watford Gap.
It comes from lack of vision and the belief that we're fine as we are.That we know it all.
Mediocrity that knows no higher than itself.
I don't strictly mean a lack of planners, partly lack of willingness to think like a planner.
(There's nothing wrong with account folks doing strategy, but when a suit mistakes half-baked thinking and writing a brief as strategy, that's where things get ugly)
passion for work that actually matters. Not in the industry. In the lives of the people we're selling to.
Not regurgitating the client brief to creatives and expecting the poor bastards to do the strategy.
Even worse, accepting that creatives think they can.
Not thinking that being a designer qualifies you to be an art director. Once makes things look nice, the other makes things work.
Not working in the same regional outfit for 15 years and acting like you know it all, or, even worse, looking down your nose at folks trying to do somethimg different.
Not worshipping outmoded models of brands (or worse, not even caring about them) and not even knowing the basics of the kind of stuff clients learn in college, let alone being able to challenge the recieved wisdom in this.
Not commisioning average researchers so you don't have to think and make decisions (although having stuff with some sort of input beyond over indulged creatives and jobsworth suits would perhaps be a start).
Not focusing on the money at the expense of the work - which in the end just stops the money.
There's a massive opportunity to make something exceptional out here. To change things. To do work that people will actually care about.
Because the 'advertising V digital v direct v PR' culture is already dead.
It's just that we need to rediscover the passion for intelligence turned into magic (as John Hagarty would say).
Because approach and mindset are much quicker to fix than infrastructure.
That won't come from a few Cream Awards and a Grand Prix at the Roses. Really it won't.