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The Cardiff bay waterfront at night

Is Cardiff fast becoming the new media city?

Over the years I’ve been to many meetings in London, talking about new and innovative products to clients and other much larger agencies.

On more than one occasion, when mentioning where our company is based, there was surprise and confusion when the answer was Cardiff - and not the anticipated Soho/Hoxton/insert latest London hotspot here.

Does the London centric mentality still exist, or do we perpetuate an out of date myth by our own insecurities?

Aerial view of London including Tower Bridge crossing the Thames

Let’s face it, London is a global media and creative supernova, and although we all feel the glow - over two hours away and you are considered on the dark side of the moon by many living and working in zones 1 to 5.

There’s glamour and cache in being in central London. Sometimes an agency’s postcode alone can achieve endorsement that says established, successful, edgy or any other number of ‘givens’, and that’s partly why they pay the big bucks to be there.

It’s no surprise that the London effect can cause those outside to feel in somehow second tier, and it is only compounded by clients’ understandable attraction to the London experience, and the fact that it is hard to beat in terms of career opportunities for talent.

People in a boardroom

Thankfully the expectation that new things only come from London and that the best creative, production or media services are only available in London is dwindling.

This evolution is hard won, and mostly down to growing confidence on several fronts:  

  1. Regional agencies are growing in confidence that their skill base is on a par with anywhere in the UK and that the quality of their work is absolutely equal too. Check out the credentials of any medium to large regional agency that’s been around for a few years and you’ll find an impressive client list and a fair few accolades. We know that our work must stand up to scrutiny, and the bar is high if you want to compete UK wide.
  2. The need for London Agencies to outsource to the regions to reduce costs. This may include the setting up of satellite offices or partnering with other agencies to fulfil work without loss of quality. In addition to the many established agencies and new competitors thriving in the regions, several media owners are out here too. The BBC and ITV all have big operations outside of London, and there has been a lot of guessing about which UK city Channel 4 will be calling its new home when it moves out of London. Let’s also not underestimate the distance-zapping power of technology. Mobiles & superfast internet connection, as well as project management tools such as Asana, mean remote working is easier than ever. Working together doesn’t mean working next to each other.
  3. Lastly, but crucially, the confidence of larger clients to use local agencies. There are huge benefits to having your agency on your doorstep – you’ll get plenty of face-to-face time allowing you to build a much deeper collaborative approach.

It’s good news when larger clients support any local businesses, perpetuating economic sustainability on their home turf.

Staff walk around the Orchard offices

Orchard, like many outside of London, make a virtue out of our location. Ours happens to be central Cardiff; which is an amazing, fast growing, dynamic capital city and was recently listed amongst 90 cities and was only one of 3 UK Cities in the World Economic Forum’s ranking for the ‘ability to grow, attract and retain talent’!

Many of our cracking people have worked in London, and have experienced the difference when you work in the regions – it’s the work life balance that makes it a winning formula for so many.  

We all know how easy it can be to work in a bubble and our industry is notoriously Londoncentric, but we acknowledge that we should be wary of becoming too Cardiffcentric ourselves.

We do love London, we’re just glad that we’re not obliged to be based there, and maintain that if you’re good enough, you are good enough to thrive outside too.

As a footnote, everything written above could probably apply to any number of professional services sectors. Our friends outside the creative sector offering top-quality legal, finance, or property services in the regions will probably recognise these issues, but hopefully also feel proud and confident to fly the flag for the regions.

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