TUNBRIDGE WELLS has creative agencies which ‘rival the best of New York and London’, the founder of one of the town’s largest PR firms has said.
Victoria Usher, Managing Director of Calverley House-based GingerMay PR, made the claim in the trade publication The Drum last week, enlisting the support of several prominent local agencies to bolster the town’s image.
Describing Tunbridge Wells as a ‘hotspot’ for producing creative talent, Ms Usher said that despite its genteel reputation, a number of ‘hugely successful’ international businesses have been founded here, adding: “They boast an array of blue-chip companies on their books who enjoy working with the cream of the advertising industry. In turn, agency staff enjoy all the benefits of a London agency but without a painful commute.”
Ms Usher cites The Drum’s own Independent Agencies Census, which reveals that all four of the UK’s top-rated independent agencies are based outside of the capital, as industry evidence that London is definitely losing some of its allure.
“When it comes to talent, high-calibre individuals can be found wherever businesses establish their base – and that is not necessarily the capital,” she said.
“Smaller cities, or towns such as Tunbridge Wells, are home to a higher than average proportion of that all-important experienced senior agency individual who moved out of the city to secure a larger property for their family or to enjoy the benefits of life outside of London.”
Her remarks come as data from the Office for National Statistics [ONS] consistently shows Tunbridge Wells as ranking highly for the percentage of people employed in the ‘knowledge economy’.
Defined as ‘specific sectors [that] are knowledge intensive in their activity, deal extensively with IT and the distribution or exchange of the information that they hold’, the knowledge economy has been identified by the ONS as: “A key sector to drive future economic growth.”
Creative and digital industries are widely regarded as part of the knowledge economy. The latest figures show the percentage of people employed in this category rose yet again this year to 35.7 per cent, up modestly from 32.9 per cent last year, but a considerable gain on the 23.4 per cent recorded in 2015. New technologies and better connectivity mean clients can be reached from any location, and workers in agencies outside the capital do not have to spend money and time commuting, Ms Usher said.
She concludes: “The trend of agencies setting up shop out of town shows no sign of slowing. “Remove the pressure of city living and working, and the benefits to agencies and their clients are clear: Talent knows no geography.”
MORE TUNBRIDGE WELLS SUCCESS STORIES HAVE THEIR SAY
Jenny Kitchen, of award-winning digital agency Yoyo design, based in Calverley Road
“There is no doubt that there are the same opportunities for career progression in a non London agency as in the capital. We seek ambitious individuals with the drive to constantly learn and improve, and our staff enjoy the buzz of working in a sociable, fast-paced agency environment without the trek to London.”
Yoyo’s clients include JP Morgan and Freesat.
Graeme Hall, founder of branding and web design agency iFour, based in The Pantiles
“Many of our designers have returned from working in leading London agencies, so we are consistently pushing the boundaries in terms of providing innovative design for our clients. Being a smaller agency also offers many benefits to our clients: We are more flexible, and often quicker and focus on developing deep relationships.”
iFour’s clients include Microsoft and the NHS
Tom Poynter, Group Managing Director of creative agency Southpaw, based in Hill Street
“The raft of world-leading brands and businesses now choosing to work with non-London based agencies is increasing, along with the recognition that talent is not restricted to the capital. “And staff benefit from working on dynamic and exciting campaigns that challenge and push their learning, but with the benefit of a superior work-life balance.”
Southpaw’s clients include Adidas and Honda