Andy Reid, Managing Director at McCann Bristol, reflects on the upbeat Creative Bristol event co-hosted by the IPA and Creative Skillset.
The IPA’s nationwide 'Creative Britain' tour, co-hosted with Creative Skillset, kicked off in Bristol last week and it was quickly apparent that it was the perfect city to choose.
With over 200 creative industry representatives from Bristol and Bath, the enthusiasm and passion were palpable. I was proud to be invited on to the panel, in its attempt to answer how we promote our inarguable collective strengths.
Anyone living or working in the region should already know about the inspiring mix of creativity and energy at the Bordeaux Key venue as Bristol and Bath have so much to offer the world. But the evening was really centered around how to let the rest of the world know.
Winston Churchill once famously sent back a pudding at a restaurant for having ‘no theme’. And with such a mix of creative talent, from gaming to advertising, documentary making to animation, and urban art to music, it is perhaps our variety that is our biggest stumbling block.
That common thread, which binds all these activities together, clearly articulated and dramatically communicated to the world at large, is our chance to operate on a global stage like any world-class city with a genuine character of its own.
Of course, as an advertising person, that lure of drilling down to a single minded proposition feels like it sits well and truly at our quarter of the creative industries map.
But that would be a mistake. One thing that the evening made clear was the very nature of Bristolian creativity - independent, rebellious and with more than a pinch of anti-establishmentism.
That is the source of what makes us different, and an attempt to package it up into a neat little branded bundle should be approached with caution.
However, that is not to say it can’t be done. The truth is rag-tag individuals have banded together under a loose ‘brand’ with phenomenal success over the years.
Austin, Texas, home to the increasingly stimulating and renowned SXSW is a prime example, and one Bristol is more than capable of matching in terms of talent, personality and energy.
And there are more examples closer to home; Hay-on-Wye, Cheltenham Literature Festival and Glastonbury are all proud success stories of curating talents to a level worthy of a global audience.
How did they do it? It wasn’t through a top-down managed brand experience. They were started with passion and allowed to grow and form in their own ways - every single stakeholder shaping them a little along the way.
And that’s because they had an authentic character of their own and a handful of passionate ‘doers’ to get the ball rolling. This puts Bristol in a very good place, judging from the discussions that evening.
So the truth is, we don’t have to do a lot to change perceptions of Bristol’s creative industries - it’s already there.
We just have to be more vocal with our pride, get creative with how we bang our collective drum and work together for the good of the region. And that has a very Bristolian theme.
One even Winston would be proud of.
Andy Reid is Managing Director at McCann Bristol and IPA City Head for Bristol.
Check out the photos from the event and the Creative Skillset article.
Last updated 17/06/2014