Helping to revitalise a former industrial heartland

Helping to revitalise a former industrial heartland

Inspiring new business start-ups in a country ravaged by the collapse of traditional heavy industries.

Client: Welsh Assembly Government
Relationship: Evenly divided between agency and client
Commissioned by: Agency
Services provided: Analysis, strategy, creative development, copywriting
Project duration: 5 months

The brief

Wales was once one of the world’s industrial powerhouses, rich in coal, steel and shipping. Since the economic upheavals of the 1980s, its traditional economy had collapsed and the principality was in dire need of regeneration. The Welsh Development Agency (WDA) was founded to achieve just that, with an open brief to encourage a spirit of entrepreneurship and the growth of new businesses. They did so very effectively. Working with their lead agency, my job was to find a way to help these thousands of new entrepreneurs develop their young businesses.

The approach

The WDA wanted a book: a business development book that explained and offered solutions to all the potential pitfalls and challenges faced by first-time bosses. But it had to be something that people would be certain to read and be inspired by. Tough call. How do you take a superficially dull subject like business administration and make it sexy?

The method

Authenticity. What did the WDA have that I could use to make the book authentic? Acres of good research. So I sat down with them and decided how best to use it. Using the real-life voices that they had captured, talking about the real-life challenges they faced day to day, the agency and I set out to create a soap opera in miniature. A business “pictures-and-stories” book, peppered with hard fact and brought to life through the sometimes provocative and always interesting thoughts and reflections of real people.

The result

250 pages of factual information, dramatised with compelling art direction, storyboard-style layouts and inspiring real-life stories. Told in seven distinct voices that I shaped from my Welsh heritage and memories of long summers in the Welsh countryside and the people he met there. Dylan Thomas Lite. By the time the WDA was amalgamated into the Welsh Assembly Government, they had distributed over 40,000 hard copies of this unique book, placed the entire project online, won awards and collected a file full of inspiring comments from inspired readers.

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