Coronavirus crisis: the industry speaks; part 3
In the final part of our feature garnering the comments and opinions of industry workers from across the globe, we hear about both the opportunities this crisis presents, and the difficult decisions that will need to be made.
Over the course of this week we have been hearing insight and opinion from people across the global advertising industry.
We asked them all one thing; How are you and your company coping with the current restrictions and what impact do you think they will have on the industry and your business?
In this final post relating to that question, we hear how businesses are coping, what the potential fallout of this crisis could be, and about the initiatives being put in place to foster creativity during this isolation period.
"makemepulse is a business that is already built around remote working. We are fortunate enough to have the tools and work-flow practices needed to continue to deliver our projects and support our clients within the current restrictions. We are also seeing that many of the technology and platforms we utilise are more popular than ever within the current climate.
Recovery will happen, however, many of the brands and clients we work with have other priorities right now and we are very sensitive to this.
Our priority internally is to ensure everyone is healthy and feels supported and part of the team as well as being flexible to those (myself included) who now have children at home. Every day we try and have morning coffee’s together, sharing online workouts and things that have made us laugh, keeping our Aperol hour on a Thursday; essentially maintaining our company culture and community as it is this that enables us to creatively thrive. Recovery will happen, however, many of the brands and clients we work with have other priorities right now and we are very sensitive to this. Our role for now is to let them know we are happy to problem solve and knowledge share and that we are ready for when the world reopens and can make sure they are too!"
Sarah Cutler, Director of Partnerships, makemepulse London
"As the owner of a small business who works with a number of clients globally, restrictions are something we are pretty used to - the bad signal on a hangout or the wrangling of time differences. The obvious difference here is that everyone is in this together, a sentiment that you feel no matter who is on the other end of the call. We are coping with this just as we would if we were in the office on live jobs - communication is key. In these times, where we can’t be in a room together and hear those magical sparks that strike matches and create new ideas, we have to communicate on a more constant level to find them.
Right now, the world is in isolation physically and emotionally - I believe there will be a reaction to this.
Like others, the brand experience industry has been hit hard - overnight, jobs were pulled from under people. I think it is so easy right now to sit and be enthralled by the negative that is occurring, and be winded by the fear that sweeps our social platforms. So, whilst I obviously respect that and understand the fine line we are treading right now, I want to use this time with Rumour Has It to truly look at what the industry will be like on the other side. As an agency, we are built on the idea that a physical experience can create memories that last a lifetime. Right now, the world is in isolation physically and emotionally - I believe there will be a reaction to this. People will crave a human connection, and brands will need to listen to this and create spaces that allow this to thrive like never before."
Simon Hatter, Founder & Creative Director, Rumour Has It Amsterdam
Above: Sarah Cutler and Simon Hatter.
"This is a time to harness all of our creative minds and help the vulnerable people around us. We haven't beaten the virus yet [and] we might not be physically together, but it’s more important than ever our industry comes together. Send a text, make a call. For no other reason than to say hi. Stay Strong. Stay Home."
Vaughan Arnell, director, Merman & Anna Arnell, ECD, And Rising London
"In many ways, I think agencies were built for this. Not only are we used to disruption, but we’re well-suited to creative problem-solving as we’re forced to re-imagine and evolve how we do business. Flexibility and creativity - that’s how we’re getting through this unprecedented time. Part of it is maintaining the things that make us who we are, only doing them in a new kind of workplace. One that helps us overcome this feeling that we’ve each been left floating on an island with just our laptops.
There’s no doubt this is changing our business in the short and long-term.
So, we’ve implemented a bunch of ways to connect. Instead of weekly all-staffs, we’ve moved to virtually checking in with the agency three times a week. The chat and virtual background functions on Zoom have kept us all pretty entertained, and in some ways, improved the experience as we’re getting feedback in real-time. We’ve also implemented virtual weekly creative department lunches where the team is encouraged to grab their lunch and talk about any challenges they’re facing. This week we even hosted a St. Patrick’s day trivia and costume party on the platform and that worked surprisingly well. In many ways being apart has forced us to work more closely together. We’re doing the same with our clients, checking in with them regularly and being proactive on their businesses so we can help them navigate in this new reality and come through it stronger. It’s times like this where deep consumer relationships can be built.
Some are set up for success and, for others, this will be a wake-up call.
There’s no doubt this is changing our business in the short and long-term. Marketers and agency partners are re-assessing media platforms and shifting dollars as well as messaging. I think we’ll see that TV, digital, social and in-game integration will thrive whereas out of home and experience marketing will shrink. I foresee marketers also doing deep audits of their online presence as we come out of this. Some are set up for success and, for others, this will be a wake-up call. From an agency perspective, for a global agency model like FCB, we’re used to collaborating with our partners around the world, so we’re still able to do the work because we’ve always been built that way."
Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Toronto
Above: Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, Anna Arnell and Vaughan Arnell.
"Our managerial approach, first and foremost, was to avoid being opportunistic and to put the health and safety of our staff and clients first. Our systems and technology teams completed the monumental task of getting our 2,000+ artists and support teams set up for remote working in record time. All of our teams globally are now operational and pushing their projects through, and overall it's been amazing to see how we can operate efficiently in isolation.
The world must keep moving and creative problem-solving has a vital role to play.
Now that we feel that task is complete, we are picking up conversations with our friends and partners in the industry about how we can continue to push things forward. While a number of live-action projects have been postponed or cancelled, we have seen a lot of enquiries for creative solutions that leverage alternative capabilities. Many can be executed fully in CG, but we can also work wonders with archival footage and design. Depending on the length of this new normal, we also anticipate exploring solutions that capture talent on virtual sets and then build on those assets during in post.
We are picking up conversations with our friends and partners in the industry about how we can continue to push things forward.
More than ever, there is a huge need for new content. Millions of people are stuck at home and glued to their screens for information. The messaging has to be sensitive to the current situation, but the world must keep moving and creative problem-solving has a vital role to play."
James Razzall, President, Advertising North America, Framestore
"I've been incredibly proud of how our team has been able to transform our technical pipeline to an entirely virtual workflow practically overnight. Fine-tuning the challenges surrounding remote bandwidth, security and encryption for proprietary projects have created a sense of camaraderie, and have motivated everyone to rise to the occasion.
Now more than ever, it's essential we all work together to keep this industry thriving.
In terms of the industry at large, I think this is a time where we need to deliver creative solutions. Now more than ever, it's essential we all work together to keep this industry thriving. Whether it is revamping a live-action concept to work through animation or design, or leveraging existing footage to cut together a whole new piece of work, this challenging time could lay the foundation for true creativity and innovation.
As crippling as this crisis has been for our industry, finding ways to support brand messaging in a time where consumers are looking to them to give back is a vital role.
We’ve already had the opportunity to partner with our clients to adapt. Our team was able to execute a two-day shoot for a national insurance brand by reworking the concept to allow a skeleton crew on set (at a safe distance) and remote supervision by our creative team and the client. As crippling as this crisis has been for our industry, finding ways to support brand messaging in a time where consumers are looking to them to give back is a vital role."
Justin Wineburgh, CEO & President, Alkemy X
Above: Justin Wineburgh and James Razzall.
"I feel a huge responsibility to not only keep our company afloat from a finance point of view, but to look after my staff and our directors' mental health. So, at a time like this, when there is so much uncertainty around the future, I really need to be thinking of ways to keep us all positive and busy.
I find being idle is a terrible thing for anyone of a creative background, it gives time for that little voice of insecurity to get inside their head and wreak havoc. Then, add to that, the fact that as an industry we are always meeting new faces and learning new things, a situation like this where we are isolated Is really worrying from a well being and isolation point of view.
There will be some very tough decisions being made right now by MDs of live-action production companies to ensure their companies can come out the other side.
I wanted to come up with a scheme that could keep myself, my team and our directors busy and focussed during this time of uncertainty. Then I realised I wouldn’t be alone in feeling this and I thought, why not bring this initiative to our great community and try bring some joy, some knowledge and hopefully some fun to our new home offices? That’s where the idea behind Caviar Connects came from. A series of fun workshops hosted by people in our industry, for people in our industry. A way to stay connected to stem the boredom and stay sharp during self-isolation and the coming months. It’s open to anyone to submit an idea for a workshop to host, whether you're an agency, client, production company or post house it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we come together and build an online community during these tough times.
I wanted to come up with a scheme that could keep myself, my team and our directors busy and focussed during this time of uncertainty.
In terms of the impact this awful situation will have on our industry; I’m normally a glass half full kind of person, however, the reality is that there will be some very tough decisions being made right now by MDs of live-action production companies to ensure their companies can come out the other side.
First of all the sad truth: For some companies staff will be let go, salaries will be cut, companies will fold. There is no avoiding that, however I do believe that with the help and guidance of the APA this will be minimised by companies taking their advice, and by taking advantage of what has been put on offer by the government. Short term it will be heartbreaking, but I believe that by this time next year our industry will be buyout again and people will be working full-steam ahead. However, I think production companies will definitely think twice about the size of their work force and their outgoings. Maybe this will be the start of more companies joining forces and supporting each other more.
For some companies staff will be let go, salaries will be cut, companies will fold.
But we must not forgot, we will not be stuck in doors forever, and clients will be desperate to be shooting again once we are allowed to. I believe that when that time comes, clients, agencies and production companies will have a new found respect for the parts we all play. And, hopefully, just hopefully, we will all be a bit more patient and kinder towards each other."
If you are interested in being involved in Caviar Connects, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorcha Shepherd, Managing Executive Producer, Caviar London
Above: Sorcha Shepherd and Olivier Lefebvre.
"As in every crisis, the challenge is not always where you expect it to be. The truth is that working remotely is not exactly big news for us. We are an international network, but our agile size enables our four agencies to be truly connected. Also, I have to admit that we came well prepared, as our agency in Shanghai had to deal with the virus since January, and they are just back to normal now. Our Chinese co-workers shared their best practices at a very early stage, both from a business and safety aspects. It has been truly helpful to our other agencies in Paris, NY and LA.
Our Chinese co-workers shared their best practices at a very early stage, both from a business and safety aspects.
We started remote work in Paris, but also in New York and LA since March 12th. As a manager, the real challenge was to cope with the sudden lack of human interactions. We humans are social animals. Under such circumstances, it is vital to immediately implement a new routine so that people don’t feel lost or left aside. Agency life is a fragile and precious thing, it’s our only working capital, that’s where talent sits, where ideas emerge. With clients, the relationship actually turned closer and more intense. I’m very proud to say that we are smarter and more efficient than ever. We accompany them, we support them, we use our creativity to help them manage through the crisis. As the situation evolves, things adjust on a day-to-day basis.
The worst scenario would actually be not to come prepared for what’s next. We must help companies and brands to be up and running just before lockdown ends.
As for the impact, the advertising industry is already shaken. In times of crisis, communication is the first thing that brands give up. It is absolutely normal to pause things during covid-19, and in some cases, it’s actually a vital way to save a company. At FF we are extremely lucky to already be a super-agile agency model with a digital mindset. The worst scenario would actually be not to come prepared for what’s next. We must help companies and brands to be up and running just before lockdown ends. It’s the only way out of this if we want to minimize the impact on the economy.
I believe brands will play a crucial part in supporting social and economic rebound.
In that context, agencies are a vital part of the system. We have a responsibility in giving brands and companies all the chances to make the most of the after-crisis. By strengthening brands’ relationship with their communities during lockdown, by making them useful, by preparing for the next chapter in the most agile, cost-effective way. I believe brands will play a crucial part in supporting social and economic rebound. All of our clients and many other companies are aligned with that. They are not guided by fear. They all want to save jobs and do the right thing. The good news is that the business never stops. FF Shanghai even won some big pitches during the lockdown in China..."