Blackwell's Britain: Time loves a hero

Creatively speaking, ‘Manchester’ is dying. But, to misquote, I come not to bury, but to praise.

There is no question that great work for major and emerging clients can be seen all around the city’s studios. You could make a case that some of the best creative companies to be found on the planet are here. You can tell it by the buzz, by the client roster, by the vibrant and varied quality.

It is diverse. It’s no longer saying anything that marks it as provincial, regional or anything localised. It is not different from London, or anywhere else, it is different from other work in the Northern Quarter, or anywhere else in Greater Manchester… and it can compete on a global stage.

The city boasts a growing list of companies – from branding to advertising, packaging to gaming, from TV production to media innovation – that deliver a product hallmarked with international standards, not a stamp of origin.

But what is dying, or dead, is any sense of a Manchester style. That’s if there ever really was one. But there was a time, quite recently, when commentators on the city lazily described it by harking back to various moments of creative achievement ather than celebrating the range of production now.

This is unacceptable today. Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Ben Casey, co-founder of perhaps the most respected design shop, The Chase, now approaching 30 years standing and with international honours to show for pretty much every one of them. He says: “I don’t see it as a negative thing to question whether there is any kind of Manchester style. I see that Manchester has matured as a centre.”

“The industry has and is changing radically, and now there is real choice. There are companies with many different styles and many with The Johnnie Walker House in South Korean capital Seoul created by Love no specific style, but more known for their thinking.”

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