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Tuesday 20 January 2015

All change for MediaCityUK

So… new year, new brand, new website and a new home for Drumbeat.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been here before, you might have noticed a few changes about the place:

- Our long awaited website has finally been untethered – you’re looking at it, so hope you like it.

- The Drumbeat brand has been refreshed to reflect the growing amount of digital campaign work we are now undertaking.

- And, if you scroll to the page footer, you’ll see from the address details we have also relocated.

Yes, after 13 years of happy drumbeating in Manchester city centre we have decided to move to MediaCityUK… So, why did we choose to move to the North’s most mega megalopolis?

Well, we’ve worked with the good marketing people at Peel Media for six years, from when the development was a building site. In that time we have helped craft the MediaCityUK brand and create the website: but until now it’s always been from the slightly removed perch of a Manchester city centre dwelling.

So, asides from the fact that at dusk the place looks like a Blade Runner backdrop and it also hosts the only Booths (the Harrods of the North) supermarket in the county, why after over a decade of city-centre-slicking in Manchester, did we decide it was time to row upstream and set up camp Drumbeat at the rejuvenated Salford Quays waterfront?

Cost / Value

One key influencer was cost, or more accuratley, value for money. Digital and creative agencies are sometimes thought to be detached from the more clinical, commercial realities of business. We’re not. We’d obvioulsy looked on impressed at the comings-and-goings at MediaCityUK as it has evolved and were becoming increasingly compelled by it as a potential business location for ourselves. However, we needed to not increase our overheads and not compromise on the space we were going to occupy. As such, The Greenhouse (the rebooted former site offices) fitted the bill perfectly. It’s an affordable, characterful and innovative space – it has a shed as one of the meeting rooms, so you get the picture – and is already bursting full with businesses like ours. Also, as has been documented elsewhere, our kind landlords agreed to let us bring the terror that is Alfie, our studio dog, into their otherwise peaceful premises.


It’s early days and it seems strange to say, but already at MediaCityUK we feel a sense of community that we never really experienced in town. Not just in the sense of having socaibale neighbours (they are), but more in the way of having shared interests, ambitions and overlapping skills with those in our immediate environment.

We’ve already hooked up with a new partnering company Screen Boo at The Greenhouse, to help us deliver a corporate event video for a client. We’ve been engaged by a new client with a packaging design and rebranding brief and of course our sister company, Wink Nudge – mobile app and HTML5 game specialists, are just along the corridor and on-hand to help us deliver our first major website win of the new year. As well as headline tenants: BBC and ITV, there are over 250 small businesses located here. MediaCityUK, it seems, has the scope to cater for them all and now we’re amongst it, it genuinely seems like an exciting buiness sub-culture is bubbling away here.


Another reason for the relocation is that it moves us closer to important clients – Peel and BBC. In the age of the global village, it’s still suprising how much comfort there is in having key clients within “lets grab a coffee” distance. It also opens up avenues to many more potential clients and presents brilliant opportunities for collaboration. Similarly, it moves us closer to a huge pool of raw digital and creative talent with Salford University, UTC and Salford City College all having campuses on site.

From a digital design and UX testing persprective we now have, literally over the road, Space Interactive Media Labs. A comprehensive purpose built digital testing lab. Having recently delivered a suite of HTML5 games to robust BBC standards, this could prove an invaluable facility to us going forward.


You can’t have a happy camp without happy campers and the Drumbeaters all seem to have taken to waterside working swimmingly. Getting here everyday is plain sailing, though the perported river taxis arent quite up and running just yet. The tram terminus which brings you right to the heart of the piazza can’t be faulted. Sadly the Metrolink service sometimes can. But by tram you definitely arrive at MediaCityUK’s “good side”. Beautiful it is too. Not so much if you drive here though. Arriving by car you could almost drive right on past, but there’s plenty of parking to be found on the less glamorous side of the tracks. There’s bike racks aplenty and a new bike hub is arriving in March, which will improve a few of our Drumbeaters outlooks even further, knowing that their beloved bikes are under safe, dry shelter.

Food / Drink

They say an army marches on it’s stomach and the Drumbeaters are no exception. Perhaps one of the most important requirements when considering relocation was that we could and would continue to eat, drink and be merry. We’ve definitely not been let down in that respect.

MediaCityUK hosts a good mix of independents and chain operators. Whilst we’re naturally drawn to Dockyard and it’s fine selction of craft ales, the members bar On The 7th, feels like the sort of secret place James Bond might take his nan for tea. Pokusevski’s piping hot homemade soups are the finest winter warmers we’ve tasted and Penelopes burgers are better than Almost Famous, without all the machismo and bullsh!t. Damson brings a touch of class with Steve Pilling upping the culinary ante, and of course the cost, but hey it’s OK to push the boat out once in a while right?


Speaking of which, having covered ourselves in everything but glory at the inaugral MediaCityUK Viking Boat Challenge as guests last year, we will be taking this years event far more seriously. Training begins in earnest… erm, very soon! Likewise preparations for this years Salford triathlon (which is swum, biked and ran around the site) will begin in May once the water warms up and the U-Swim team bring their changing tents, dodgy tunes and recovery hot chocolate to the bank of Dock 9.

There’s lots of stuff for fitness bunnies generally here. Military fitness on the piazza, yoga and pilates in The Greenhouse, two football pitches – one is on a roof! – and there’s the Virgin gym at the Lowry Outlet.

Culture is covered off with the Lowry Theatre and Imperial War Museum North. You can register to take in shows at Dock 10 studios, currently recording: the Voice, Question of Sport and 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, amongst others. The regular Drumbeaters cinema club has even continued uninterrupted, asides from Andy’s occasional shusshings, at the Lowry Outlet’s Vue cinema.

So, all in, if anyone asks whether they should move to MediaCityUK, I’m reminded of the beginning of last years Salford Triathlon. As I said to myself at the time, whilst staring into the mirky abyss of a cold dock 9, gripped by a rocketing heart rate and crippling dread: “Just jump on in, the water’s lovely”... And you know what? It really is.

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