On Friday 24th June 2016, I had a call scheduled with Berlin Partner
, an organisation tasked with promoting commerce and inward investment to the German capital. I was seeking advice about launching a Taylor James studio in the city.
In the two months prior to the call, we’d been analysing the best location for Taylor James’ first base in Central Europe. We’d been partnering with German clients for years and made the commitment to set up a studio in the country. For a number of reasons, we settled on Berlin and I’d been in contact with the various organisations and services that we’d need help from to get the studio off the ground.
I, like many others, had assumed the result of the referendum would confirm the UK’s place in the European Union. However, the day before the call, the British public voted in favour of Brexit in what has come to be known as one of the biggest political shocks of all time.
Speaking to Berlin Partner on that Friday was a weird, almost apologetic experience. In fact, they were quite possibly more shocked than I was at the outcome.
The vote confirmed that opening a German studio was not only a good idea, but a necessary next step for Taylor James. Brexit risks key markets becoming restricted to UK companies; we’ve collaborated with clients across Europe for a long time and we aren’t prepared to sacrifice those relationships to political uncertainty and trade restrictions.
We’ve often heard that clients say that partnership would be strengthened if we had Taylor James people on the ground in their territory. Prior to the referendum, we believed we could drive more growth and strengthen relationships with our clients in Europe through a physical presence - the Brexit vote only affirmed the importance of a German studio to both safeguard these relationships as well as grow them.
But Brexit isn’t entirely negative news. Taylor James offers German and Central European clients access to the world class production hubs of London and New York. There is a perception of these creative services being expensive and the exchange rate being stacked against European buyers when converting from euro to sterling. Since the major re-alignment of the exchange rates post Brexit, we can communicate tangible value-driven benefits available to those partners more easily.
To some extent Brexit may well have been a rejection of globalisation
. But business will always be looking to grow footprint and profit. Therefore, I suspect there will be increased levels of globalisation through companies of all sizes and industries establishing in key foreign markets. This surge in multinational operations may leave populist governments with egg on their face and undermine their best efforts to re-energise economies from within.
In addition to regions aggressively vying for inward investment, businesses must ensure they have access to talent. This could directly impact London’s status as the creative hub of Europe.
With the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the UK as a result of Brexit, the next two years will see lots of creative companies sprinting to set up a base inside the EU. I don’t think that we’ll see companies reducing their London operations yet and I believe the strength of the UK’s creative industries will remain. But time will tell if the advertising and creative industries centre of gravity will shift toward continental Europe.
Now, Taylor James has a core team in Berlin, composed of passionate and experienced locals with an understanding of the market, backed up by mature production hubs in London and New York. By being on the ground, we can now deepen our relationships with clients in the region and be the best creative partner possible. No matter where Brexit leads the UK, we will continue to adapt our operations to remain the best creative production partner to our clients, regardless of their location and any barriers created to interrupt free trade.
Nick Berry is Group COO of Taylor James