Rock the Cotswolds takes on Birmingham

New campaign to change perceptions of the Cotswolds hits the M5’s fast lane

We’ve unveiled an amazing show-stopping, edgy motorway billboard campaign alongside the raised section of the M5 at Birmingham. It shows a model wearing nothing but body paint and talons: the work of talented Oxfordshire-based body artist Mona Turnbull.

Mona told us that she’s 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. Our website is already listing over a hundred 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, our great Rock the Cotswolds founder, owns Cirencester-based Neon Play, a mobile game development studio s 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

….. or the horribly ugly M4Heston Services…. ugh..

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.

This is lovely…

This Rocks!

We’re evening persuading Cotswold accountants in the Cotswolds to rock. Hey! Crowe Clark Whitehill

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.

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.”

The Marvellous Mona Turnbull with our M5 Star: Verity!

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.

 About Rock the Cotswolds

Rock the Cotswolds is changing perceptions of the Cotswolds, often known more for its chocolate-box villages, horse-racing festivals and royal connections than the successful, entrepreneurial and technology-leading companies based there. The aim is to boost the local economy and inward investment into the Cotswolds (Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire), helping the region attract and retain skilled people to build their careers in an area they may otherwise have overlooked. It’s run as a social enterprise by Oli Christie, Nicky Godding and Melissa Ormiston and relies entirely on financial and in-kind donations from supportive companies and individuals.

Nominate a Rocker

A ‘Rocker’ is a business, person, event, charity or venue located in the Cotswolds, an area not always associated with cool and funky. The campaign has endorsement from national celebrities, politicians, Cotswold people and businesses.

Rock the Cotswolds announces five new Rockers every month. To nominate a Rocker and be introduced to the Rocker roster, visit


posted by Nicky Godding