The Client

Created in 2016, the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) focuses on driving economic growth and job creation in the Tees Valley area. A partnership of five authorities as part of the devolution strategy – Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees – TVCA is responsible for transport, infrastructure, skills, business investment, housing and culture and tourism. On the 4th May 2017, the people of the Tees Valley elected their first Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, who now chairs the Combined Authority.


We needed to encourage people to vote by educating them about what the new Mayor would have the power to change. The electorate also needed to know how and when to vote.

Plenty of challenges stood in our way. There were multiple key messages for different audiences. Businesses needed to know how the Mayor could support investment. Aspiring homeowners needed to know how the Mayor would drive housebuilding. And young people needed to know how the Mayor could influence their first foot on the career ladder with skills and training.

An initial survey of people in the Tees Valley found a very low level of engagement with both the election and devolution in general. Voter fatigue and a lack of other elections taking place on the same day threatened poor turnout.



reached by the social media campaign


reached by our radio messages


saw our animation


Our campaign had to reach thousands of people in the Tees Valley. We used regional celebrities to speak to the electorate, we armed the media with easy explainers about the Mayor’s role and we created a snappy script for a series of high impact radio ads.

An eye-catching animation film was created that told people all they needed to know in two minutes. We made it watchable. Subtitles meant our audience could easily digest it on their commute, with no need for headphones.

Campaign messages were unmissable across Tees Valley. From big screen advertising at Premier League football matches, to street teams stopping shoppers in their tracks and engaging them about the historic election.

Social media played a starring role. Our rallying cry – #TeesTakesControl – encouraged everyone from local MPs to businesspeople to take note and join in the build-up. Highly targeted social media advertising landed locally-tailored messages with different audiences – helping them understand what the election meant for them.

Clever design tied the campaign together. Five animated characters representing the Tees Valley local authorities appeared across digital content, in print and on TV screens.


The campaign surpassed expectations. Our social media activity reached 260,000 people alone, more than 31,000 people saw our animation and our radio messages reached a further 285,000 people. Thanks to support from celebrities like artist Mackenzie Thorpe and Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith our PR stories received more than 8 million opportunities to see.

Turnout for the election was a very respectable 21.3%. Other combined authority elections happening at the same time achieved only marginally higher turnout with budgets that dwarfed this one and enjoyed candidates with big national profiles.

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