MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - The death-knell is about to toll for the UK media network

Another one bites the dust. Another media independent sells out for mega bucks and the few media entrepreneurs left behind start dreaming again about Ferraris, villas in Tuscany, divorces and the value of scarcity.

Another one bites the dust. Another media independent sells out for

mega bucks and the few media entrepreneurs left behind start dreaming

again about Ferraris, villas in Tuscany, divorces and the value of

scarcity.



Even though the latest independent to sell up isn’t a darling of the

London media scene, Feather Brooksbank still managed to command a

whopping pounds 7.5 million price tag, and that’s just the initial

consideration.



The Scottish media independent has succumbed to the warm embrace of

Aegis and joins the Carat family as its regional outpost. Feather

Brooksbank becomes the focal point for all Carat business outside of the

metropolis and, at the same time, takes on the mantle of the UK’s

biggest regional media agency. And whether your horizons stretch further

north than Charlotte Street or not, you must admit that’s still quite a

USP.



For all that, though, this deal is recognition of a number of issues

facing regional agencies. Carat’s Manchester office was once one of the

most successful regional media agencies. Its positioning used to be that

it was a national media agency that just happened to be based in

Manchester and competed on an equal footing with the London shops. Now,

after losing several key accounts to London rivals, it is being subsumed

into Feather Brooksbank, though the new agency will maintain a

Manchester base.



The problem is not necessarily one of struggling to match the whizzy

systems and research and planning tools of the London shops. After all,

Carat Manchester could tap into all the tools offered by Carat

London.



But it’s undeniable that regional agencies are often having to make do

with regional business and many of the national accounts have moved down

to London.



Perhaps the problem is that the regions are becoming the region,

singular.



My first job involved visiting the big media operations in Bristol,

Birmingham and Manchester. Now that patch would be a mere scrap. While

there are many great media shops left in these cities, some of the

bigger ones have disappeared, subsumed into the London headquarters.



Only last month MindShare North gave up, contracted out its media

clients to MediaVest Manchester and retreated back down south. How long

before Carat withdraws from Manchester altogether?



There will always be regional advertisers looking for regional agencies,

national advertisers who are more comfortable with a regional agency and

Scotland is, increasingly, a strong market in its own right. But is

there now enough business between the North Circular and the Borders to

warrant a major presence by the international agencies, particularly

when London has become just one flag on the global map? Could this be

the beginning of the end for the UK regional media network?





claire.beale@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



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