Dial M for
EW editor Paul Colston meets John Young, Creative Director
at international agency M, to hear his views on developments
in stand design and the threat from coronavirus
iven that M’s design
business is global, what
has Covid-19 meant for
the business to date?
It’s important to be responsive and
agile and reactive to this. With about
85% of our work being international,
a lot of our clients are using the word
‘postpone’ at the moment and talking
about how to look at different ways of
going to market.
You seem geared up for all sorts of
digital and virtual solutions?
This is why we’re meeting today in
our virtual suite. We are now having
to do what we’ve been doing with our
clients for a number of years, which is
look how we transform as the market
changes. Our industry hast to do that.
Four years ago we talked about this
with Xerox and the Ministry of Sound,
about how music had moved through
the digital age and transformed.
And Xerox was in a print industry
moving through the digital age and
transforming. I think the exhibition
industry’s got to do the same.
The value of face to face won’t
go away and where digital really
plays a role is how it complements
that, and for those people that can’t
reach a live event or an exhibition at
any particular point, they can take
part in it completely through digital
engagement. But all of our clients still
say face to face is so important.
Have the postponements you
alluded to made your job more
difficult when you look at the
w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk
Absolutely. There are two elements
to this about how we bridge with
personnel and timings, and also the
business side of it. But we must also be
thinking about how we plan so that we
can manage the end of year calendar.
There’s time now to really plan and
still deliver on all of those projects. We
have an awful lot of manufactured
material in stock and ready to go.
How have you dealt with the
challenge of moving your teams
It’s interesting. Let’s talk about
sustainability. Something we’ve been
doing through the history of M is
really thinking about and working
with local supply chains, local teams
in a region and then complementing
that with our staff. We’re putting
much more focus on looking at local
communities and local supply chain.
The full list
can be found
on the EW
2020 will be
on 8 June.
Will we be judged later on the
value of what we do and how we
behave in this situation?
Yes. It is not just large agencies like
ourselves with people all around the
world, all of us need to get together as
a group and look at how we can make
this situation work. We must look as
a community and as an industry how
we can change the way that we work
in the future. Looking at how that
works inter-agency and inter-supply
chain is key.
One of the key things we’ve seen is
what we call innovation showcases
within corporate headquarters
and galleries. Instead of taking an
exhibition space, we can transfer
that same asset into a permanent
M design: An
location where one-on-one meetings
with customers can still happen. That
same asset can then go back into the
M won the show Gold Award and
Best Award overall for the British
Pavilion and Garden at Beijing
Expo 2019, part of a huge project
for government and involving
artists, designers, horticulturalists
and other suppliers.
Actually, that installation stayed and
has become a permanent garden
that’s used for local people to go and
enjoy. It was also enjoyed online with
one and a half billion views, likes and
hits across that whole social media
spectrum. Not only was it a great
face-to-face event, it reached the
worldwide community. There’s Expo
doing its great thing with many of
those people unable to visit Britain in
person, that’s the next best thing.
What does it mean to you to
be a 2020 Finalist in the World
Exhibition Stand Awards?
Fabulous, as we’ve only recently
started to apply for awards. Clients
have always been delighted with
them! Seeing the response to
winning awards and applying what
these awards are doing within the
exhibition environments, is of great
value. There have always been show
awards, but to have a worldwide
awards programme really is very
Issue 2 2020