For Liverpool creatives, Milky Tea, the day Lloyds TSB came calling was, literally, the best of times and the worst of times. One of the biggest banks in Britain had fallen to an all time low, and one of the smallest companies in Liverpool has played its part in making that most difficult of brands – a financial institution – seem a little more warm, fuzzy, and dare we say, human again…

You might choose to disagree with the message, but you can’t help fall in love with the medium, nor, for that matter, Elena Kats-Chernin’s Eliza’s Aria – its insanely infectious soundtrack.

“Ah yes indeed it was a good day,” Milky Tea’s Creative Director, Jonathan Holmes (pic)  tells SevenStreets about the time Lloyds TSB asked them to get involved with a campaign – kicked off by  Studio AKA in London – that’s been one of the most positively received in recent history.

“We’ve now created over 650 pieces of work for Lloyds TSB and cover approximately 50% of artwork for their ad campaigns, which is something I’m very proud of. It’s a superb client to work for and I must admit we don’t tire of creating their quirky Lloyds TSB World images, even after having done so many. We initially started off small with them and worked with a graphic design company and we grew to be integrated with the Lloyds TSB Brand.”

Jonathan HolmesHow did Milky Tea begin?

It was born over five years ago now, and was originally a joint venture between me and my friend Ian Leyland. We decided we wanted to create high quality 3D artwork and animation that stood out in its field as exciting and innovative. Initially we worked predominantly with the design industry, creating 3D models of products and packaging. We then began forging a name for ourselves in the advertising industry as well, which has been where we are perhaps best known, although we also work on more interactive and game related projects with the likes of the BBC.

Why did you decide to stay in Liverpool?

Although I have lived all over the world over the years, I will always consider Liverpool home. It’s vibrant and dynamic and has such a wealth of creative talent which I really do believe has become a lot more acknowledged in recent years. There is a great sense of community in the creative scene here, where everyone represents each other and is only to happy to recommend your work on your behalf.

Liverpool’s creative industries seem to be going through a purple patch at the moment, do you agree?

Our clients are spread out all over the place, from Oman to New York, and they all seem to comment on what a cool place Liverpool is! It seems to be recognized internationally as an interesting and energetic city and events like the World Expo in Shanghai are really working to get our name out there in the international digital scene.

Is the city a good place to start up a creative business?

Definitely. Things like low cost studio space and business support from the likes of Vision and Media, Enda Carey in particular has really helped us out. I actually have a business incubator, called Base Camp 3, offering business advice and studio space for the digital creatives. I think initiatives like this that offer such services are really helpful as it encourages a collaborative atmosphere while allowing experinces to be shared.

What’s the Baltic Triangle like? How would you like to see it developed?

It’s great to have a creative quarter and to have it in such a fantastic location, bursting with history and amazing architecture. I’d like to see more cool places to hang out after work and also to have meetings, we’ve got Leaf which is great and clients really like chatting through projects in relaxed and quirky surroundings. I think a lot more could be done in the way of networking events and showcases for creatives to pull more people in to the area and build up the renowned creative hub across the region.

What are you working on now?

I’m afraid I am tied by confidentiality on a lot of the projects in development at the moment, so we will have to catch up again in a few months to chat through them properly!…

Recent months have seen me in Sweden and the Middle East developing projects and I’m off to New York and China on in the next few months too. We’re in the process of setting up a satellite studio in London for account management and new business, but we will always keep our main studio in Liverpool.

Hopes for the future?

I can’t wait for some of the projects we’re working on now to develop to a stage that we can show everyone, there’s some extremely exciting stuff going on at Milky Tea head quarters including creating a lot of our own IP. We want to become specialists in Children’s entertainment content and I’d also really like to get even more involved in the games industry as I think there are some great prospects around for smaller digital agencies, as it’s no longer a platform just for the big players.

What do you like in Liverpool right now?

Liverpool has got a great vibe going on at the moment, the mix of its culture and heritage with the more contemporary movements in the creative industry are really exciting! I’m enjoying the international stage the city is part of at the moment, it’s great to see so many tourists making the most of what we have to offer.

Advice for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I would say the most important thing for anyone who wants to set up a digital agency is to make the most of other people’s experience as well as getting yourself out there to gain your own. I think it’s also extremely important to work out exactly what you actually like and get pleasure from doing, you’re never going to be passionate about something that bores you!

Milky Tea
25 Parliament Street, Liverpool