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A winning habit: Channel 4 win keeps our 100% record intact

by Nick Ramshaw

The news that Channel 4 has chosen Leeds for its new national HQ was welcomed way beyond our city, as fantastic news for Leeds. We are very proud to have played our part – by creating the #4sparks campaign that helped promote the winning bid.

This win is not our first either. Over recent years we’ve been involved in three significant bids – and all three have won! So we’ve got a bit of that winning feeling right now!

Here are the stories of the three winning bids:

  • Bringing the Olympics to London
    It started 10 years ago, when we were asked by Jude Kelly (who sat on the Organising Committee) to contribute to London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics. In the run-up to the final deadline, the cultural aspects of each bid were attracting a lot of attention from the IOC delegates and were seen in London’s case as a potential advantage over the main rival, Paris.

    Our brief was to help position the cultural bid and capture its essence, as part of the final submission. We needed to illustrate the spirit of creativity and adventure contained in London’s planned cultural programme, which was achieved in the form of a book.

  • Pierre de Coubertin, the French educator and historian, is widely seen as the father of the modern Olympic movement. His philosophy was that the Olympics represented the wedding of sport and art, which we interpreted through photography.

    The book was introduced into the bid at the last chance in Singapore, and the rest is history! We’re not saying we made all the difference, but our ability to respond quickly with creativity and design thinking must have been a significant factor.

    We went on to be a core agency for both LOCOG and ODA, helping with significant projects through to and following the Games themselves.

  • Bringing the Tour de France to Yorkshire
    Our involvement in this one came about at one of our occasional Thompson dinners. We invite a small number of friends to dinner at The Old Stables, to help solve a specific challenge with our combined knowledge and contacts. The subjects are very varied, including helping open new specialist medical facilities in Yorkshire for a friend who had had to travel to Oxford for treatment.

    At this dinner, one of our guests was Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, and a very good friend of ours. When asked what we could do to help him, he introduced this seemingly crazy idea that Yorkshire was about to bid to host the start and first few stages of the 2014 Tour de France. A bid that was being co-ordinated by Welcome to Yorkshire. How can you help us win the bid?

  • Our suggestion was another book. ‘The Strength to Succeed’ was delivered to the race organisers during a scheduled visit to view Welcome to Yorkshire’s plans for hosting one of the biggest sporting events on earth. The route would take in some of the iconic locations in the county.

    The book conveys both the beautiful and varied landscape of Yorkshire as well as the character and determination of Yorkshire people, both of which combine to make the region so special. It included emotive imagery of both the county and its rich cycling pedigree including Olympic track cyclist and World Champion Ben Swift and local cycling legend Brian Robinson, 81 – the first Briton to win a stage of the Tour de France, in 1958.

    Again, the bid was a winner and the rest is history! Le Grand Depart in Yorkshire is widely considered to be one of the most successful in history. It certainly helped put the county on the cycling map, bringing in £102m to the local economy in that year alone.

  • Bringing Channel 4 to Leeds
    And now we have helped bring Channel 4 to Leeds.

    In this case, we worked with Leeds City Region LEP and its various partners to support the bid and help co-ordinate the communications around it. To get the story right, we had to understand what is important to Channel 4 and look at the impact it could have on this region, as well as the impact the region could have on Channel 4.

  • The fact is, there’s already a revolution under way in Leeds. An exciting new generation of young, diverse and often under-exposed content creators are doing amazing work.

    Leeds’ bid is based on Channel 4’s move to the region being the spark that would ignite this movement. Channel 4 has the opportunity to come here and lead this revolution. It has a chance to tap into unheard and under-represented voices and audience groups, and to receive recognition for harnessing the massive potential of the region. It’s this idea that gave rise to the campaign hashtag of #4sparks – the fact that Channel 4 has the potential to ‘spark’ great things here.

    Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said of the winning bid: “Leeds put forward a compelling and ambitious strategy for how they could work alongside Channel 4 to further build the strong independent production sector in the city and develop new diverse talent from across the region.”

    “It’s a vibrant and growing city. It has a really, really strong production sector… they were very strong in terms of their partnerships and they have a diverse community across the Leeds-Bradford region.”

  • Three wins and counting…
    So three bids and three wins. Not a bad success record, eh?

    If you know of a bid coming up, that might benefit from our type of thinking and creative ideas, then please get in touch. We’d be delighted to help.

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