Creativebrief catches up with James Myers on what makes TVC stand out from the crowd, that Nike ad campaign and agency ambitions.
Creativebrief: Please could you outline your career to date, talking us through anything of particular interest or that you’d like to highlight?
James Myers: I come from a family of retailers and everyone always thought I would either continue working in the family business or become an accountant. I always imagined I would work in the world of fashion in some way, possibly as a buyer or merchandiser, so my teenage years were spent trying to break into that world. I ended up being the first person in my family to go to university and it was while studying French that I realised the power of communications and pursuing it as a career started to sound appealing.
I got my big break in 2000 when I answered an ad in a local publication. I joined a then small agency called TVC Group. It was young, vibrant and full of energy. There were just eight of us and the agency had a real entrepreneurial feel. We went on to build a global business with an incredible client portfolio, so much so that The Economist Group bought us in 2012.
Fast forward 18 years, I’m now Group Managing Director and TVC is celebrating its twentieth birthday this year. In some ways, the last two years have been the most exciting of our 20-year history as we’ve moved away from traditional PR, embedding digital as a mainstay and boosting the agency’s content marketing, digital and social capabilities. This has meant we’ve welcomed new talent to the team, including digital producers, content strategists, paid media experts and community managers who now work alongside our media relations experts, broadcast specialists, experienced producers and editors.
Creativebrief: As Group Managing Director at TVC Group, what is your primary focus?
James Myers: It’s quite simply ensuring our clients can deliver against their marketing objectives. That means having the right people on board and adapting and innovating to tell our clients’ stories, especially as more and more of our client projects require us to undertake work not normally associated with a PR agency.
“Being channel neutral will be more important than ever. What won’t change is the story and narrative will be key.“
Creativebrief: What’s unique about your agency?
James Myers: There are a few things that make us stand out from the crowd but the key one is that no other marketing agency is owned by a publishing house. Not only do we understand comms, we have a unique insight into how a publisher runs its business. Beyond this, while we managed to rebalance our skills and client base towards digital, we’ve never lost sight of our content roots. We’ve been using words, images and particularly moving image to tell stories for our clients for the last two decades.
Creativebrief: What has been your agency’s best work in the last year?
James Myers: It’s hard to choose but I’d say the work we’ve done for challenger bank Aldermore really stands out. We’ve worked with them for the last two years and are using content marketing to help shake up the banking sector. After a deep dive review, we devised a new content and channels strategy that would keep Aldermore front of mind with intermediaries and customers. We’ve been rolling out campaigns that create a fresh approach across digital and social channels. Our work spans designing and building The Edit, a dedicated content hub, to ‘Mortgage With Your Name On It’, the bank’s first direct-to-consumer campaign, to managing a 12-month paid partnership with The Guardian Small Business Network, amongst others.
Most recently, a mortgage-focused campaign has helped build a highly engaged audience within Aldermore’s key customer segments, driving new visitors to the mortgages websites and thousands of warm leads. The hero film we made as part of the campaign attracted 567,000 views and engagement of 13,000+ and traffic as a result of the campaign represented 71% of all traffic coming from social to the mortgages landing page. It showed the real power of social media campaigning through highly targeted, content-focused activity.
Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?
James Myers: I thought the sculptures of men with hoods placed on top of the ITV Tower for CALM, the charity that works to prevent male suicide, was very moving and impactful.
“There are a few things that make us stand out from the crowd but the key one is that no other marketing agency is owned by a publishing house. Not only do we understand comms, we have a unique insight into how a publisher runs its business.“
Creativebrief: What work or agency from outside the UK do you think is particularly influential?
James Myers: Nike’s ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick really resonated. They took a risk and it paid off because it got everyone talking. We all strive for that type of moment.
Creativebrief: How do you see the comms industry evolving over the next two to five years?
James Myers: Everything is mobile, and data is everything. Being channel neutral will be more important than ever. What won’t change is the story and narrative will be key.
Creativebrief: What are your ambitions for TVC Group over the next two to five years?
James Myers: We’ll continue to scale and grow internationally. We recently set up an operation in Asia and we’ll be looking to take our proposition even more global. We’ll also be looking at how we can develop and continue to reinvent the agency. We’re constantly working with our clients to make sure we’re giving them what they need to meet their marketing challenges. We’ll be working on developing a new sort of agency, hopefully via partnership or integration, that will be future proof.
Creativebrief: Personally, who or what are you inspired by outside of the industry?
James Myers: It has to be Paralympian Gold Medalist Jonnie Peacock.
Topic of the moment
Customers want to know more about the social, economic and environmental impact of brands. How do you evaluate each of these in the brands you choose to work with?
The growing awareness of corporate social responsibility was one of the big themes coming out of this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. We like working with brands which have a social purpose and if they don’t, we make sure to support on developing one. But it has to be more than just a badging exercise. There has to be a natural fit and it has to feel authentic. We’re currently working on some really nice purpose-driven campaigns, including the Evidence Initiative, a project from The Economist Group and the Pew Charitable Trusts and the World Ocean Initiative.