Steve Davies, chief executive of the APA, predicts a positive year for British advertising production, as soon as it’s safe for the UK to live without restrictions
Production is happening, despite the even greater difficulties caused by Covid - with positive cases affecting productions and testing creating an even greater workload.
That is a tribute to the ingenuity and determination of production companies, agencies and brands.
We are all sick of it though, aren’t we? We can manage but we yearn for a world in which we can go out, meet each other and focus on making great commercials without all these additional obstacles.
So when might that happen? To quote Yogi Berra, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. That is particularly true of trying to predict when Covid will be sufficiently in retreat to let us live without restrictions.
It is critical that we do so, provided it is safe to do so. Sounds simple but that is the tension of competing forces in one sentence.
Production may have managed through resilience and adaptability (and the support of clients and agencies), but for us - the production, post, editing, music and sound design companies - to thrive, we need to get out from under Covid.
First and foremost because whatever we do, big sections of business and advertising - travel, holiday companies, leisure activities, concerts and sports events, won’t advertise until they have something to sell again.
So I am prevaricating here as I face making a prediction that could turn out to be, well, wrong.
The answer is that I am optimistic that the bulk of restrictions will be gone in the UK by late April - all over 50s and vulnerable groups, who between them represent 99% of deaths, will be vaccinated well before then; 24th March is the current estimate. Infections are currently falling steadily too. I can’t see therefore how the government could justify keeping shops and hairdressers and leisure businesses closed beyond the end of April.
I wonder if my judgement here is affected by my hope that I will be able to go to see Spurs in the Carabao Cup Final on 25th April?
Possibly. But the logic is sound.
What will take longer to recover is international travel. The government here will be keen to keep out new variants and infected people from other countries. For those of us who want to travel (all of us surely), the uncertain position in other countries will remain an issue. Will a country let us in? If they will, is it safe to visit or do they have high infection rates? Questions we will have to ask because vaccines will not be 100% effective for all.
So airlines and holiday companies, for example, will take much longer to get back to anything like full capacity and to promote themselves.
Eventually (by the autumn?) it will all be back and I think we will see a very busy period, as brands get out there to sell themselves and while many people have suffered great financial anxiety as a result of Covid, overall Britons saved an additional £134 billion while being stuck at home and will be keen to buy cars, fridges and anything and everything, including travel, when available. Perhaps not just busy but a feeding frenzy for brands keen to make up for lost revenue and growth by being the recipients of some of that spending. That would be great for production.