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A Divided Nation

This week we hosted our Breakfast Briefing, “A Divided Nation”, to open the debate on whether or not it was time to pop the London bubble when it comes to experiential and events.

The morning kicked off with a keynote presentation, by our Planning Director Jo Hudson, acknowledging the importance of London, whilst highlighting the opportunities outside of it.

The capital city’s influence as an opinion forming, trend setting centre endures – all major TV networks and national radio stations are based here, as well as our national press. So, when it comes to experiential, if a key campaign output is PR, then London still holds the power.

However, when it comes to consumer engagement, London may not be the best place to be. The London consumer is a hurried individual with, generally, less time and less interest in promotional activity.

The presentation reminded us that 87% of the UK’s population do not live inside the M25, and that there are 68 other cities in the UK, many with huge (1 million +) populations. For brands seeking high footfall areas, it does not have to be the capital. In some cases, non London centres could actually be better suited to a brand’s values or brief, as they can offer more specialism: if seeking a GenZ audience, brands would be well placed to consider one of the 150 student hubs in the UK; if there’s a tech story to tell, ‘Smart City’ Bristol, or the ‘Silicon Fen’ in Cambridge are great choices; if it’s arts and culture, then cities like Brighton and Hove, or Liverpool, would arguably answer the location brief better than parts of London could… and all at a fraction of the cost (typically London is 3-4 times more expensive than other cities).

Following the keynote, our panel discussion began with Fiona McPherson (LEGO), Richard Exton (Nando’s), Rachel Hall (PinTarget) and Emily Koppit (The Producers). All parties agreed on one thing, if you activate well in the regions you will reap the benefits. However, there are a few key things to consider to ensure you don’t waste the opportunity.

Our panel discussed the importance of remembering some key rules when activating in a specific areas:

  1. Do your homework: Ensure you work with either a local coach or work hard to understand the local area before activating.
  2. Understand what’s important to people: Whether it’s by using local staff to resonate with local people, or changing the campaign because what’s important in Germany isn’t the same in France, ensure you don’t employ a one size fits all approach
  3. Don’t assume behaviours are the same across the country: When activating in London, so many people are concentrated in one area, for instance the commute. This isn’t the same across the country with over 50% of people driving to work everyday. Understand how your audience moves in order to target them.

Conclusion?  To gain commercial advantage through experiential engagement we need to pop the London bubble and embrace the Nation not the Capital.