Leeds creative agencies throw weight behind Channel 4 bid

Striking a note: Leeds musician Dave-O has given his backing to the Channel 4 bid. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Creative agencies in Leeds have thrown their weight behind the city’s bid to become the new home of Channel 4 with the launch of an “unprecedented” new collaboration.

The city is in the running to become the new national headquarters for the broadcaster and the creative community has now launched a campaign backing the bid.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, says this is an "unprecedented collaboration". Pic: Simon Hulme

The ‘All In. Leeds’ campaign, which is being backed by over 50 of the city’s creative agencies, will focus on showcasing the region’s creativity.

Steve Sowden, a chief executive partner at the Headingley-based Intermarketing Agency, is one of the many leading creative agency leaders involved with All In. Leeds.

Mr Sowden said that no one individual or business was leading the new campaign but that it was a collaboration aimed at championing the whole sector.

“We have got this amazing sector in Leeds,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “There are a large number of very capable agencies who are all working with huge international brands but sometimes are flying a little bit under the radar.”

Tom Riordan, inset, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: “This unprecedented collaboration amongst the creative sector in Leeds reflects the energy and excitement sparked by our Channel 4 pitch, and the unity of the city’s partners who are four square behind it.

“We have a hugely talented, diverse and growing creative sector and I’m looking forward to working with them to shout even louder about what makes Leeds such a great city.”

All In. Leeds wants to show Channel 4 that relocating to the city would not only be “transformative” for the creative sector but also for the broadcaster.

The campaign is also looking beyond the Channel 4 bid and has already created a manifesto for the creative agencies sector in Leeds.

The manifesto is designed to shape the future of the sector through five key points: education, community, talent and diversity, businesses and creativity. All of this has happened in a short space of time, Mr Sowden said.

Landing Channel 4 would put the city on the map, he said, however regardless of the result, the bid itself has already had a positive impact.

“Win, lose or draw, Channel 4 has brought us together,” Mr Sowden added. “We don’t talk about ourselves as much as a sector but we will now.”

Guy Utley, creative director at Tall Agency, said: “We want to promote this talented pool of agencies both large and small that work together to produce some of the UK’s best work.

“Leeds has a hell of a lot to offer and it’s important to shout this out loud.”

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “It is fantastic to see our creative sector coming together to further showcase Leeds as a truly dynamic and innovative city in the light of our Channel 4 bid. As a city we are stronger together, with a proven track record of where this works.”

Laura Kynaston, managing director of brand consultancy Propaganda, which also backing All In. Leeds, says the city has a “wealth of talent”.

She added: “Channel 4 relocating to Leeds would undoubtedly bring more jobs to the region.

“In much the same way that Salford has benefitted from welcoming businesses such as the BBC and ITV, it would pave the way for increasing investment and development in the area, and an influx of new talent and ideas, helping to stimulate the creativity already thriving in the city.”

The collective of creative agencies have also penned a ‘love letter’ to Channel 4, outlining the positive impact Leeds’s bid has had so far.

This collaboration is a continuation of a trend, according to Stuart Clarke, director of Leeds Digital festival.

He said: “This year’s Leeds Digital Festival had 170 events, which was more than San Francisco, and it showed the depth of collaboration within the digital sector in the city. The ‘All in. Leeds’ campaign is a continuation of that collaboration and will hopefully show Channel 4 how important their move to Leeds would be for the digital community.

“Our digital companies and agencies work with brands all around the UK and the world, and we’re starting to get the word out about the strength of our digital offering; having Channel 4 move to Leeds would accelerate the message we’re a vibrant, modern digital city.”

Channel 4 executives are visiting the candidate cities, with a final decision due in October. As well as a new national HQ, the broadcaster will also be looking for a base for two new creative hubs.

A list of the agencies backing the campaign is available at www.allinleeds.com.

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