why is Northern AgencyLand flying Down Under?

To fanfare, a Leeds agency officially opened their Sydney office last week. Another Leeds agency has had an office in Sydney for a while and according to my sources a third is thinking about it. Meanwhile, nearly every agency bod I meet seems to know someone who has moved down under in the last 18 months for a better agency job and supposedly a better lifestyle.

I bought this up at a few catch-up coffees recently and according to my Old Girls’ Network it seems that there’s a couple of reasons – firstly, the Sydney/Melbourne market is apparently very well served by the network offices of global agencies like BDDO, Saatchi, McCann and JWT but spectacularly underserved by integrated agencies that will work for brands with marketing budgets of six rather than seven figures.

On the HR front and particularity in Planning apparently the kudos of having a British Planner remains (similar to the US agency scene in the 90s and early 00’s) and with some specialisms such as Shopper Marketing still very much in their infancy over there a trained and experienced Shopper AD or Retail Planner is very much in demand – and near guaranteed a visa.

It strikes me that in addition, the time difference means any fully functioning Sydney office has an Artwork team who could effectively work overnight on urgent jobs from the UK HQ. I know of some fast-paced agencies who have already introduced an evening overtime requirement into their Artworkers contracts, for those agencies the ability to send work to a fully trained and high standard ‘overnight team’ on the other side of the globe could be very attractive. And if you start thinking like that, there’s a lot of other time-sensitive skilled jobs in the average decent sized agency that don’t necessarily require local knowledge and could be fast-tracked overnight.

Agencies have historically opened offices in unlikely locations to service important clients (for example Gibraltar for gaming clients and Jersey for financial services) and sometimes these can be little more than a rented meeting room and a phone number, but opening a full-service offering on the other side of the world is a different ballgame. I recently did some consultancy work for a global b2b (not marketing) business who told me they’d looked at opening in Sydney then backed off as the operating costs of a properly staffed office were just too high compared to their other sites spread across the globe.

So will The Great Northern Integrated Independent Emigration work? Only time will tell, but I do expect a few more big regional indy’s ‘contact us’ page to say something like ‘Leeds, London and Sydney’ in the near future.

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