Coronavirus crisis: the industry speaks; part 1
In the first of our posts featuring reaction from creative and business leaders, we hear about the effects the coronavirus crisis is having on people and companies across the global advertising industry.
As the full effect of coronavirus hits the advertising industry, we ask a variety of industry names, from across different sectors, one question;
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?
Below is the first of a series of quotes in which they reveal their thoughts...
"It’s incredible how fast the landscape can change. A lot of what would’ve been fine a few weeks ago is just not appropriate now. Brands really have to consider how to act in what is an unprecedented international and national crisis, certainly in peacetime. All bets are off and normal rules just do not apply. The best response is to think how you, as a brand, can be genuinely useful to people.
The best response is to think how you, as a brand, can be genuinely useful to people.
LVMH and BrewDog both switching their production lines to produce hand sanitiser is a good example. Or Gary Neville giving over his hotels to the NHS. In times of crisis it’s important we all come together for the good of all of us. And that applies to brands too. Even Donald Trump, who tried to buy exclusive US access to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from German scientists. Sometimes a crisis shows what a brand is really made of."
Sam Walker, ECD, Uncommon London
"The Corona virus has hit Norway hard. We are in a state of emergency, declared by our Prime Minister. All public houses, airport and airlines, schools, universities, cinemas, concerts, restaurants, cafes, training centres, you name it, have closed. You can imagine this is hitting our advertising industry hard, as well as the cultural sector, the oil industry, tech, travel and leisure, tourism; basically the cornerstones of our society’s income.
This will result in less projects and less work and unfortunately, in the long run, put companies out of business.
Motion Blur has shut down its offices but we are still in post with two productions and just did a corona-friendly production yesterday via Google meet, Teams, and direction on FaceTime. Its quite extraordinary how much you can achieve on new digital devices; is this the new way of working? Well, at least today. We have experienced some layoffs but are expecting more to come. This will result in less projects and less work and unfortunately, in the long run, put companies out of business. Motion Blur is well equipped, but only for a certain time. But we are sure that together we shall overcome."
Espen Horn, Executive Producer, Motion Blur Norway
Above: Sam Walker and Espen Horn.
"Currently we are all social distancing and working remotely. It’s far from ideal but our company is spending a ton of time together connecting via video conferencing. We’re sharing workflow solutions, stories and laughs and sometimes a drink or two. In these unprecedented times we have nailed down a workflow that has been tailored to our new normal.
During these unsettling times we are thankful to be part of a like-minded community.
We try to run our screenings in the same way, to keep all of our creative partners involved and keep lines of communication open. It takes a little more managing and a little more planning, but everyone is in it together. During these unsettling times we are thankful to be part of a like-minded community where the health and safety of those we love is critical to our day to day operations and decisions."
Melissa Kahn, Partner and Executive Producer, Rooster Post Production Canada
"Obviously, with every single aspect of society affected, it’s scary and I don’t think that anything will be the same again. But don’t forget, we are very good at what we do, and we are doers, we make stuff and we are endlessly resourceful in our work. I can’t help feeling that some great, new opportunities will come from this that we've never had time to think about. Just being lucky enough to step off our hamster wheels, slow down, give the world a break and get a new perspective on life could be a fantastic one-off moment that will make us all much better at what we do when this is over and we mustn’t squander it.
I see this hitting of the pause button not just as a problem but, just possibly, as an amazing opportunity.
There are so many things on all of our 'to-do' lists that might now actually get done and ideas that might get written down, and I see this hitting of the pause button not just as a problem but, just possibly, as an amazing opportunity. After all, problem solving is central to the DNA of production and it’s that ‘creativity’ that will see us through this crisis.
Meanwhile there is strength to be drawn from that Timber Hawkeye quote: ‘You cannot calm the storm so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass’."
Charlie Crompton, Managing Partner & EP, Rogue Films London
Above: Charlie Crompton.
"As all pitches and ongoing projects got this full emergency stop (or got postponed till the summer) here in Berlin and Hamburg, we first moved all work into our home offices and set up ways to get our jobs done remotely. But, due to the fact that there is zero new business coming in, and no one can say when and where the silver lining will be, we also started to develop self-improvement ideas for the whole company. We urgently need to fill all these phrases of ‘we´ll get back stronger’ with content [so as] not to make 2020 a lost year in business. This includes free yoga and online sports courses which we provide to our staff, as well as strategic and portfolio improvements that we need to focus on now.
Due to the fact that there is zero new business coming in... we also started to develop self-improvement ideas for the whole company.
There will be a time in the near future when all clients and agencies need to get their campaigns back on track and we´ll be there, waiting for them. We´re confident we’ll get through this dark time and I really hope that we all develop a common understanding; that our business is not everything. So, stay at home with your family and be safe!"
Patrick Volm-Dettenbach, Executive Producer, ELEMENT E Filmproduktion Germany
"The restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19 have made it extremely difficult to assemble crews for shoots, affecting our industry in unprecedented ways. It was a mad, crazy dash, but we managed to get the entire Soho team operating remotely. The editors are still cutting current jobs, but the next challenge was with the cancellation and postponement of future campaigns. We had to ask ourselves how the editors and their assistants could remain engaged and focused?
The editors are still cutting current jobs, but the next challenge was with the cancellation and postponement of future campaigns.
We're in the process of setting up an internal initiative, asking our editors hit by cancellations to share a 15-to-20 second teaser that responds to one of two different creative ideas, using only pre-existing material and compatible library footage. It not just a way for our editors to keep exercising their creative muscles, it's a way to showcase the storytelling power of great editing - especially when all the editor has to work with is previously existing footage. We hope to use what we know best to keep working and tell stories that don't just fill the creative gap, but inspire others to find innovative ways of problem-solving in this trying time. We may all be living in a remote world now, but editors are well-adjusted to working and solving problems in isolation!"
Toby Abbott, MD Cut+Run London
Above: Patrick Volm-Dettenbach and Toby Abbott.
"The Hooton team and clients are based all over Europe, which means that we’re used to working remotely, and are big fans of VCs. It also means that we’re experiencing the impact of the Coronavirus at varying stages. We work across the travel, fashion, culture and creative industries so unfortunately openings, campaigns, product launches and projects are being postponed. We’re therefore working closely with clients to review and adapt their communications in the short and long-term, to ensure that their messaging is sensitive and true to their values during these extraordinary times.
The world is also changing how it consumes media. Print will likely take a hit (Playboy was the first to announce it had stopped printing).
The coronavirus is, of course, currently dominating media all over the world, and will likely do so for quite some time. While it feels like that’s all they want to write about, it’s not the case. Outlets and journalists are asking for non-corona stories, and asking their audience what they want to read about. The world is also changing how it consumes media. Print will likely take a hit (Playboy was the first to announce it had stopped printing), but national and local radio and TV audiences are increasing.
So, I remain optimistic. These uncertain times means the media and PR ecosystems will have to work closer together to give readers what they deserve – good storytelling. Hopefully we will become less dependent and addicted to the clickbait news cycle, and instead experiment with and create more considered features and formats. It’s a great challenge."
Héloïse Hooton, Founder, Hooton Public Relations
"In South Africa, we’re in a situation where we’re watching what’s coming. It hasn’t hit hard here yet – and obviously we hope it won’t – but we have the advantage that we can act now. So, a lot of shoots are being postponed and we’re doing meetings at home in shirts and underpants to try and curb a potential spread. Right now, it’s wait-and-see, but that has obviously come at a cost. If South Africa stays on some kind of amber alert then we’re ready to go with smaller crews, a strict hygiene regimen and fully remote VT viewing for clients and agency. If things get bad then we’d look at things like mo-cap, animation and stock footage to keep our clients on air.
Production companies are in a position in the chain where (if we can find a viable way forward) we can lessen the broader financial impact the virus will have.
Safety and the ethics of the situation are our priorities, and we’ll be led by government, but we also feel we have a responsibility to our partners and crew who depend on shoots for a living. Production companies are in a position in the chain where (if we can find a viable way forward) we can lessen the broader financial impact the virus will have."