As a producer, the Covid-19 situation has been a real dent to my day to day life as a maker.
Just before lockdown we saw clients rushing to get things through. But once the lockdown hit we saw the pause button being hit on everything that involves shooting or any sort of crew.
We've now all seen multiple ads shot remotely: on Zoom, Facetime and Hangouts. It’s great to see brands making emotional and contextually relevant stories, showing that they care and being raw and real. But with so many of them taking this tactic, it's become difficult to differentiate between them.
We've also started to hit the reruns and the dubbed global versions. Again, it makes total sense in the current situation, both due to the lockdown and the economy. However, although I respect the huge amount of work and initiative that goes into making any ad, particularly in such testing times, I think we'd all like something a little more creative coming out from brands & agencies. We mustn’t forget the fundamental of great advertising: that distinction is key.
So how do you not let Covid get in the way of making great work?
- Make storytelling key: ‘We’ll be back together soon’/ ‘We’re still here for you’/ ‘We can get through this together’ has been told by countless brands in lockdown and lacks clarity and distinction from the majority of brands. Let’s not lose the craft of storytelling when we’re having to be rawer in production techniques. It’s not so easy now to use something beautiful to cover up something woolly.
- Use alternative techniques: We don't have to shoot everything - the animation, illustration and editing talent across the industry is insane and I hope and suspect we're about to see a sharp rise in these types of ads on TV.
- Keep things simple: We all preach it, but we're all guilty of overcomplicating things - the lack of budget, time and resources should be used to give a bit of license to simplicity and clarity.
Finally - let's consider creating work that doesn't directly comment on the current state of affairs - both from a verbal and visual narrative. As someone wise said, "this too shall pass". A good ambition would be to make ads in spite of lockdown and not just about it.
James Fricker is projects director at Mr. President