AMS Media Group opens Leeds office to offer alternative to networks

Independent agency hopes to build the biggest non-network shop in the north of England.

Collins, Whitehead, Phelps and Empson (r-l)
Collins, Whitehead, Phelps and Empson (r-l)

AMS Media Group, the independent media agency, has launched its first regional office, in Leeds, as it introduces a new positioning following the loss of Red Bull.

Steve Empson, a founding director of MediaCom Leeds, and James Whitehead, formerly investment director at MediaCom Leeds, will run the Leeds office in the new roles of directors, north, at AMS.

The agency starts trading today and Empson and Whitehead are working to win clients and recruit staff.

Paul Phelps, chief executive of AMS, said: "The north used to be well served by a plethora of independents, but much less so now. We’d like to redress the balance and provide clients with a greater choice, notwithstanding the fact that the recent challenges faced by the networks makes the ‘indie’ proposition more relevant than ever."

Both Empson and Whitehead worked at the independent regional agency Brilliant Media before MediaCom bought it in 2011.

Whitehead said: "We believe clients are increasingly seeking an alternative to the network agencies. We aim to offer a high-quality service, delivered by experienced practitioners, with no potential conflict of interest to compromise the ideal media strategy."

Established in 1975, AMS is one of the oldest media independents still operating. Its name originally stood for All Media Services, although it ceased to spell out its initials in the 1990s.

The agency is positioning itself around the idea of "Actually Making Sense" in a bid to demonstrate how it is different from what it calls the "unnecessarily complicated and sometimes, illogical practices in media" networks. It has a new logo and is using a yellow stripe motif to highlight key messages on documents and its website.

Duncan Collins, managing director at AMS, said: "We have always built close, long-term relationships with our clients centred on neutral planning, pragmatic buying and, ultimately, trust. Given the apparent failings of many larger agencies to deliver these principles, we believe the time is right for our message to resonate."

AMS works with clients including Jagermeister, the travel and river cruise company APT, Butcher’s pet food and CafePod Coffee Company, which produces coffee capsules as well beans and ground coffee. It had worked with Red Bull for more than 20 years but the energy drink hired Mindshare in January.

Fellow independent Goodstuff Communications has also seen opportunity in the north of England and recently invested in Love Sugar Science, a media agency start-up based in Manchester.

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