Rude obituaries, agency closures, and Manchester City: The 10 best-read stories on Prolific North in 2019

Charlie Spargo's picture

2019 has been one of the busiest years ever for Prolific North, a year that's seen our platform go from strength to strength.

In the industry there's been huge upheavals and drastic changes, as well as long-anticipated arrivals and upgrades. The wealth of stories we've reported on this year just goes to show the health of the North's creative sector right now, and its enormous potential.

But which stories captured our readers' imaginations and kept people talking? Here's the full list.

JOE's satirical Rees-Mogg music video
10. A closer look at the comedy video that put Rees-Mogg in Pulp

One of the most entertaining and popular viral videos of the year was released back in February when news and entertainment publisher JOE released a video that stitched the politician's head onto Jarvis Cocker's shoulders, and dubbed his voice into the 1995 song.

The process involved working through "about 10 hours of raw footage of interviews and speeches,” said JOE's Multimedia Producer. However, within two days alone, the video hit two million views.

Read the story here.

9. Manchester City sack PHD following influencer ad embarrassment

A strange situation in October saw Manchester City FC cut their ties with PHD Manchester, after an apparent advert for new social media influencers to showcase "the electrifying atmosphere” at the Etihad Stadium, during matches "core fans are less likely to attend".

After the event, PHD said: "The brief we issued to a third party supplier... fell short of the high standards that PHD Manchester is committed to delivering for its clients and we regret any negative impact on Manchester City FC."

Find the full story here.

Chris Boardman
8. Boardman quits ITV to focus on Manchester cycling role

This year, Olympic gold medalist Chris Boardman stepped down as ITV's Tour de France commentator to focus on his role as Greater Manchester’s walking and cycling commissioner, a role he took up in 2018.

“Thanks for all the lovely messages about my leaving ITV Tour de France coverage. It’s been an absolute privilege, especially this year. Sadly not enough time for all things, and lots to do in Greater Manchester with @AndyBurnhamGM” he tweeted at the time.

Read the full story.

7. Manchester's agencies turned into stops on the Agency Tram Map

One of the most popular, and most feel-good stories of the year came when Datacentreplus produced their Agency Tram Map - which took all of Manchester's agencies and made a Metrolink-style visual.

It located the agencies according to their 'line' of work, whether 'digital marketing', 'full service', 'brand, comms, creative', 'specialists', 'design and development' or 'social and PR'. The response was overwhelming - the piece of imaginative artwork was widely shared and discussed, and become one of 2019's most-seen images on the Prolific North website.

See it in full here.

6. Brass Agency goes into administration

Sad news was on the cards just a few weeks towards the end of the year, when Leeds' Brass Agency went into adminsitration. Staff told Prolific North they were "in shock" after administrators arrived unannounced, before returning the next day to collect keys and company property.

Only this year, the agency said it had won £200,000 of business just from Yorkshire clients, and signed six-figure briefs with Slumberdown and Tofoo Co, earlier this year. Unfortunately, cost of sales had risen, while operating profit before tax had fallen.

A few days later, it was revealed that former Brass staff had set in motion legal action against the company following allegations it failed to properly consult them when making redundancies.

Read the story here.

Magic Weekend
5. The Sun boycotts rugby league after being barred from Magic Weekend

In June, it was reported that The Sun had indefinitely boycotted rugby league after one of its reporters was barred from the Magic Weekend at Anfield in May.

The paper's Gary Carter was refused access to Liverpool’s stadium for the showpiece weekend on May 25th and 26th, which led The Sun to insist it would refuse to cover the sport in any form, including scores, until it got assurances from the Rugby Football League and Super League that it would not happen again.

See it in full here.

4. MediaCityUK staff warned Tommy Robinson protest could attract 10,000

Staff at MediaCityUK were warned earlier in 2019 that a planned protest in support of far right activist Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, could attract up to 10,000 people - an event that ultimately saw a crowd of about 4,000. 

It was organised just before the release of a Panorama investigation about Robinson, and followed a social media post in which he videoed a “tirade” against the BBC.

Staff were originally told about a "small scale" protest involving up to 50 people, but the estimate increased significantly.

See the story in full.

3. Phil Williams to leave Radio 5 Live

More BBC news became one of the year's top-read stories, after the announcement that Radio 5 Live would be losing Phil Williams, the then-late night host who had served 18 years at the station.

When news broke that Manchester Arena had been attacked in 2017, Phil Williams was presenting and handled the developing story in a way later described by controller Jonathan Wall as a "tour de force".

Williams told fans via Twitter, saying: “They say all good things must come to an end and after 18 years with BBC Radio 5 Live – I will be leaving on May 8th. It’s been quite an adventure".

His final show, which went out on the 8th, was an emotional one, during which best bits and favourite memories were shared.

See the full story.

2. The Athletic rumours gather pace as Liverpool FC reporter leaves Echo

A name that cropped up month after month in 2019 was The Athletic, the US subscription sports news service which eventually launched in the UK at the beginning of August, following rumour and speculation.

The platform poached talent from heavyweight news sources including the BBC, The Guardian, and the Press Association. But it was news that James Pearce, Liverpool FC reporter for the Echo, would be leaving his post and moving onto "A new opportunity", that was the biggest news on the topic this year.

Read more here.

Scunthorpe Telegraph
1. Scunthorpe Telegraph prints swear words on obituaries page

One of the most entertaining and widely-shared stories of this year - and indeed, the one that attracted the most readers - came when the Reach-owned Scunthorpe Telegraph made something of an oversight on their obituaries page.

The entry, which appeared on page 35 of the paper one day in March, read: “COCK Forename. Please complete the following fields as you type. You will see a preview of your advert. Cunt.” The title was forced to apologise and Reach started an investigation into the incident.

“We were testing the system to see if it would allow those words in and unfortunately it has not been removed," said a Reach spokesperson. "Ironically that word is in the town's name too."

Some were shocked, while others amused - and it easily became Prolific North's most popular story of 2019.

Read it in full.