Coronavirus crisis: the industry speaks; part 2
In the second of our posts featuring reaction from a wide range of advertising leaders, we hear how the ongoing coronavirus crisis is affecting companies across the globe.
Following on from Monday's article, we have more insight from advertising leaders from around the world, each of whom is helping to steer their company through the current coronavirus crisis.
As before, each of our respondents has replied to the below 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?
"I look around at a time like this and realise how lucky I am to work with the people that I do. I have found that this has brought out the absolute best in people; ourselves and our clients. And because of that, I think, as a company, we are doing really well. We are trying lots of different things as the scenarios shift daily. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it all wrong. So, we try something else. What else can you do? Our biggest priority is to relieve the anxiety of everyone in the company.
Our biggest priority is to relieve the anxiety of everyone in the company.
I don’t want to predict what it means for our industry because every prediction that’s been made so far has proven to be outdated and irrelevant in hours because of how fast everything is shifting. As an industry, at least on the agency side, I think we are going to be okay. We are not a restaurant that had lines of customers one day and is shut down the next, or an airline that has grounded entire fleets. But these industries, and many more, are our clients. And I think it will be our duty to help them get back on their feet. They employ hundreds of thousands of people that will need jobs to go to when ‘normal’, whatever that means, returns once again."
Joseph Bonnici Partner & Executive Creative Director, Bensimon Byrne Toronto
"Amongst this unpredictable craziness, where every 24 hours a new development unsettles our status quo, I truly feel that innovation and adaptability are King! The 1stAveMachine team are all WFH but we start our morning with a group online yoga class taken by an instructor, followed at 10am with our first internal production meeting to discuss plan of the day and have general “office bantz". It's important to keep a structure to the day to still feel connected and to ensure we’re moving our bodies!
We've been approached by a number of agencies asking if we can virtually present our animation capabilities to their creative and production departments.
As far as industry goes, some interesting developments have occurred. We already live-streamed a shoot back in February for our clients who weren’t able to travel which worked remarkably well. We have changed live-action scripts into total animation scripts and had them signed off, and we've been approached by a number of agencies asking if we can virtually present our animation capabilities to their creative and production departments all working from home, in order to keep their tools sharp, cogs turning and inspire creativity.
While there are surely some tough times ahead, I'm remaining optimistic as I see clients, agencies and production really collaborate together to creatively come up with new projects that can survive in this climate. Being smart with ideas and technology on this level helps everything keep moving...we have to keep moving."
Kerry Smart, MD 1stAveMachine London
Above: Kerry Smart and Jospeh Bonnici.
"The current situation is dramatic for many companies, but health must be our priority. Film shoots simply cannot continue. They are not (yet) banned by our government but interaction and physical contact between cast and crew is inevitable on a filmset. All risks should simply be avoided so everyone must use their common sense. We can only hope that this situation will not last too long, so that the economy can recover quickly. But right now everyone must take their social responsibility and contribute to prevent the spread of the virus as much as they possibly can.
I am convinced that advertisers will have to continue communicating through campaigns/commercials, especially once life returns to normal.
Fortunately, production houses generally have a small permanent structure, but I also think of the many freelancers who are at the end of the chain. For them, this is an even bigger drama. I appeal to all agencies and their clients to show solidarity with the production houses and to have many campaigns launched again as soon as it’s possible. I am convinced that advertisers will have to continue communicating through campaigns/commercials, especially once life returns to normal. Productions can be relaunched in a matter of weeks. Not only the productions that have now been shut down, but hopefully many new ones too."
Ruben Goots, Founder and EP, Hamlet Belgium
"We are rethinking everything. This is a unique challenge and we are finding ways to navigate it every day. Our head of immersive, Mike Woods, created a document for our agency and client partners which has been circulating and receiving positive feedback. We are exploring ideas around AI, realtime non-physical events, geofencing, story worlds, new ways of producing things and much more.
What will never change about our business is that creativity, craft and smart solutions will always win the day.
The world is going to be so different on the other side of this crisis, and the uncertainty of what will change is so challenging. But, what will never change about our business is that creativity, craft and smart solutions will always win the day - and we're looking forward to helping our partners find footing again when the time is right."
Ari Kuschnir, Founder & Managing Partner, m ss ng p eces
Above: Ruben Goots and Ari Kuschnir.
"The current situation does not discriminate and is an issue for all companies at the moment. Everyone is concerned from production companies to staff to freelancers; and as robust as any company may be, it is simply impossible for any business to survive a period of expenditure with no income over a prolonged period of time. So, it’s important that everyone takes the correct and necessary measures now to protect the longterm future of their business and its employees.
More than ever now is a time for everyone to pull together and it’s been encouraging to see how the production community has mobilised itself in a short period of time. I genuinely get the feeling that agencies, production companies, editing and post houses are there for one another. Communication throughout this time will of course be key so that people don’t feel isolated even though they may be in isolation.
It is simply impossible for any business to survive a period of expenditure with no income over a prolonged period of time.
Productions have obviously come to a standstill for the most part now but we’re using the time productively to do a bit of spring cleaning and getting around to all of those things that drop to the bottom of the list over time. It’s a good time to streamline our processes and there are plenty of projects both long form and short form that we have in development and that can and will benefit from the extra attention.
There is no denying we will experience a downturn in the business as most jobs have been cancelled or placed on hold indefinitely; however, we remain optimistic that many of these projects will resume later in the year and in the instances where they don't, alternative creative will be forthcoming. What’s important at this time is to continue and maintain communication with all our contacts and with one another so that we are abreast of developments, providing any support we can. What’s clear is that everyone will be keen and it will be in everyone’s best interests to do business and resume activities as soon as restrictions to trade are removed.
What we don't want is a lag in getting going again and that is very much the views of the agencies we have spoken to.
Whilst restrictions are in place we’re taking a proactive approach offering agencies and clients the opportunity to develop creative, encouraging them to be working on things now so they're ready to shoot, when it is safe to shoot again. What we don't want is a lag in getting going again and that is very much the views of the agencies we have spoken to. A limited number of scripts are still circulating for potential shoots later in the year and we will continue to keep our ear to the ground, seeking out any opportunities to pitch/develop creative where possible. We aim to stay connected to agency producers and creatives to be up to date on any such movement.
In fact, we’ve initiated the below to keep our creative contacts stimulated and active during this period of isolation encouraging them to use their time productively."
Spencer Dodd, Joint MD & EP, Merman London
"For our company, it was quite an intense shock. European governments having gone from mild concern to lockdown in a few days. Content production represents a big part of our business activity and it was put on hold overnight for two, three months ... Our team has not been directly impacted, but we decided to work proactively from day one, helping our clients make the right transition to this situation (on their content, marketing calendars etc.). The good news is that brands, despite initial appearances, want to quickly speak out, show that they understand their consumers and quickly find new ways to produce.
If this crisis has one upside for entrepreneurs, it will be to force us to focus on essentials, reinvent how we do things in a leaner way.
We have already launched entirely remote productions (mainly iPhone productions, shot by individuals) to allow our clients to continue their content flow, and adapt it in substance and form to this new reality. Those who will survive will be the companies and businesses with a high ability to adapt. Older models that have been relying on heavy processes will suffer the most. If this crisis has one upside for entrepreneurs, it will be to force us to focus on essentials, reinvent how we do things in a leaner way. And, eventually, open new routes for more creativity."