Every year the Media Planning and Buying team at Aspire help countless Antipodeans find their perfect role in UK media agencies. Rapidly growing agencies and a real talent shortage means that there is more demand than ever for enthusiastic, experienced individuals coming from overseas, so it’s a great time to make the move over to London. It’s also a big move that you want to get right, so we’ve asked a wide selection of our ex-pat candidates to give us their thoughts on what to take into account before booking your flights.
To kick off, we asked: What is the biggest difference between Media agencies in the UK and Australia or New Zealand? Here’s what we heard:
“The largest agency in Sydney was about 300 people when I left, and went to work for one with over 800 people in the UK.”
“Going from an agency of 30 people to 250+ (and this is small by London standards!) was quite a transition.”
“The size and scale of the agencies over here are really unparalleled compared to back home. Not to mention the level of resource and power of investment that agencies here have.”
This was, for most candidates, the biggest difference between home and the UK. An agency with 100 people in Australia or New Zealand is considered large, whereas most Media Agencies in the UK have 500-1000+ people working for them. This naturally leads to more opportunities for you - teams are large and there’s lots of opportunity for progression – but it also represents a cultural shift that you’ll need to get used to if you’re going to thrive in this larger working environment.
“In bigger agencies, people tend to be more specialised in certain areas of media, rather than being a planner/buyer across all channels. This means that people are real experts in their fields so it’s a great chance to learn from some of the best.”
“…roles here are much more specialised than I'm used to but it's been a good learning experience already.”
The scale of UK agencies means that roles are more specialised; In Australia and New Zealand it isn’t uncommon for an individual to carry out a full 360 degree function for their client - Strategy, Planning and Buying across all media, as well as post-campaign analysis. In the UK these roles are separated into different teams - often further divided by media channel. This can come as a great advantage to anyone moving to the UK as you are likely to have had experience in different areas of media, meaning that there will be more roles available for you to apply for. Having said this, your ‘generalist’ experience may mean it’s important to know where you’d like to specialise beforehand!
“Being in a London office, it definitely attracts a smorgasbord of different Brits, and people from international backgrounds. For example, my work team are from England, Finland, France, Poland, and yes, Australia and New Zealand too!”
One of the most exciting parts of working in a London agency is that you’ll almost certainly share your office with other non-brits, meaning there are a lot of colleagues that have already been through the transition that you’re going through in your new job. They can help you adjust to agency life in the UK, and go part of the way to making social life during your time in the UK an absolute blast!
4. Global Clients, Local Knowledge
“UK agencies often look after … clients with huge international budgets. Therefore there are dedicated teams that will look after different aspects from planning, investment, creative solutions, ads ops etc.”
“Although most of your skills will be transferable, learning new regions in a country you didn’t grow up in may take some getting used to and that’s assuming you are working on a local account. If you land a role on an international account, you may want to buy a globe for your desk (joking - Google maps will be permanently open!)”
London is a cutting edge regional and global hub for media activity, so whether you’re working in an International team (where you’ll have to learn the specifics of a number of national media markets) or in a UK role, you’ll get exposure to massive spending global brands, and deal with senior marketers based anywhere from Aldershot to Zurich. The only challenge you’re going to have is getting under the skin of the subtleties of UK and European geography!
5. Digital Advancement
“The advancement to the digital landscape! Australia has a long way to come.”
The UK often acts as a testing ground for digital media innovation and new technologies, so you’ll be constantly pushed by your client and your agency to do exciting new things in digital. Whether it’s programmatic, mobile, or native content, you’ll need to be literate about these developments whether your role is specifically digital or not.