It's the slightly demeaning and insulting phrase of "Regional Agency".
I don't know where the term originated, and I accept that it has uses for smaller agencies in lists and charts. But I believe (and hope) I'm not the only person who finds the phrase insulting.
It feels like a term coined by a London agency in a pitch to scare a client from going outside the M25. A phrase that implies we don't have the skills or the resource outside the M25 to run a big campaign. A phrase that tries to bracket even global linked agencies like CBJWT, TBWA Manchester, McCann Birmingham into the same group as John Smith Village Marketing.
It seems to be a curiously British phenomenon, our obsession with London (and that's not to diss London agencies) as the only place where our marketing happens. I think you will find that Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh are all bloody big cities. We have our Beatles, our Oasis, our Proclaimers (okay maybe not the best example).
You don't call agencies in San Francisco or Chicago regional because they aren't in New York.
We don't call clients 'regional clients' if they are based in Liverpool or Newcastle. We would be rightly lambasted for doing so. Just because we don't have Fallon up here doesn't mean we lack talent. It's just that too many clients and agencies are yet to step outside the M25 and see it.
It's about time that we stopped using this lazy term and looked at our industry as a whole. We are not London agencies and regional agencies. We are all UK agencies. In this time when we need to justify our talents to those less familiar with the 'intangibles' of marketing, dividing ourselves up in this way helps noone.