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Rock the Cotswolds hits the M5’s fast lane

PUBLISHED: 11:41 21 August 2015 | UPDATED: 11:41 21 August 2015

Rock the Cotswolds hits the M5’s fast lane

Rock the Cotswolds hits the M5’s fast lane


Rock the Cotswolds, the campaign that’s changing perceptions of a region often overlooked as dull by city dwellers when planning their lives and careers, will prove them wrong when it unveils a show-stopping, edgy motorway billboard campaign alongside the raised section of the M5 at Birmingham.

The Rock the Cotswolds’ first every motorway billboard went up this week. It showcases a model wearing nothing but body paint and talons: the work of talented Oxfordshire-based body artist Mona Turnbull. Mona said: “I’m honoured to be helping grow the unique image of the Cotswolds as a wholesome, exciting, dynamic, and a creative place to live and work.”

The campaign is designed to challenge those who think the Cotswolds is all stone walls and rolling hills. In fact there are hundreds of world-leading companies and inspiring creative people in the Cotswolds. Alongside exciting career opportunities with global companies, there are fantastic venues, hotels, restaurants and sporting activities that can rival London, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham. In the Cotswolds there is everything to support young professionals or families looking for a life in the fast lane, but not the stress of city life.

Oli Christie is the founder of Rock the Cotswolds. He owns Cirencester-based Neon Play, a mobile game development studio who was finding it difficult to attract the talented game designers it needed to grow. Many live in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, the North of England or even overseas, and many though that life as they knew it ended outside their city limits.

Oli said: “I need new talent to grow my business. Those of us who live here know what an amazing place the Cotswolds is, we wanted to prove it to everyone else.”

He set up Rock the Cotswolds to reveal the region’s huge pool of creative artists, groundbreaking engineering design and innovation companies and exciting hotels, restaurants and fun, thrill-inducing entertainment activities often languishing under the radar, overshadowed by the toffee-tin image of the Cotswolds familiar with those who read stereotypical tourist brochures and weekend newspaper supplements.

“There’s a lot right in presenting the Cotswolds as a beautiful place to enjoy. It’s great for our valuable tourism economy. What Rock the Cotswolds showcases is its subversive, edgy alter ego, to encourage people to take a second look and appreciate the opportunities here not only to enjoy their home lives, but also to build successful, fulfilling careers,” he said.

Oli is an award-winning entrepreneur and Queen’s Award winner for innovation. His company, Neon Play, has achieved 55 million downloads of its games and is recruiting a growing team of computer programmers and artists as the business expands.

He added: “Showcasing Mona Turnbull and her amazing body art on our M5 billboard helps us reveal a Cotswolds that few outside will recognise. And while what Mona does is incredible, there are other equally exciting and talented people working in every aspect of cutting edge art, design, technology and engineering who also deserve the limelight.”

Alongside the Rock the Cotswolds advertising campaign, its website showcases the diversity of people and businesses in the region. Every month the campaign announces five new ‘Rockers’. These are businesses, people, events, charities or venues in the Cotswolds, which represent a side of the region not always recognised. Every Rock the Cotswolds ‘Rocker’ has or does something unique, edgy or very, very well. People and businesses can’t buy ‘Rocker’ status, they have to be nominated.

Rock the Cotswolds also organises a small number of events bringing together unusual groups of people to encourage creativity and innovative working.

“My vision is for a Cotswolds that is as celebrated as much for the exciting activities, venues and successful companies located here as for its tweed and royal connections,” said Oli. “With the new M5 advertising campaign, I think we’ve hit the fast lane.”

Photography for the M5 Rock the Cotswolds campaign was carried out by Cheltenham-based McPherson Stevens. Mona Turnbull did the body painting on model Verity Millett, who models in her spare time and is a regular canvas for Mona’s creativity. McPherson Stevens and Mona Turnbull are both Rock the Cotswolds’ Rockers.



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