FCB’s Kerry Hill Never Stopped Making Ads

The Influencers 179 Add to collection
FCB Chicago’s EVP and director of production explains how the agency is staying ‘Never Finished’ during a time of social distancing, and is inspiring others to do the same
FCB’s Kerry Hill Never Stopped Making Ads

Today, creativity is taking center stage as never before. At the end of last month the United Nations itself issued a global call to creatives, and our industry has responded emphatically. As many of us around the world are spending more and more time at home under lockdown, the arts, be it music, entertainment, film, or literature, are more important to us than ever. In addition, clear and engaging communication has become critical to keeping people safe and informed, no matter where you are in the world.

A few brands, such as AirBnB and Coca Cola, have paused or delayed their marketing and ad spend. However, there is clear evidence that shows action is crucial for most other brands. A recent study from Kantar found that 78% of consumers believe that brands have a role to play in helping them with their daily lives during this crisis.

People are watching more TV than ever and browsing more content online, and they are changing their behaviors rapidly. Some may argue that creating new content that increases ROI may be impossible during this time of uncertainty. But that is simply not true. Some brands have been reacting brilliantly, using their existing reach and communications to share reactive, informative, positive, and helpful messages. Thus, they have continued to play a role, albeit a different but no less important one, in their customers’ lives. For example, I was moved by IKEA’s recent “#IStayHome” campaign, which seriously recognizes the time we are living in, while also delivering an uplifting spirit that is so vital and relevant. 

There is more media opportunity now than ever before, along with a myriad of production options, even very cost-effective ones, that can substantially increase ROI.

Brands and their agencies have had to adapt quickly, lay out a map, and chart a course safely through the storm. There is no time to waste. Use new methods, find a safe route, and use all the new resources available. 


An Adaptable Model

Over the past few years, one of the biggest challenges across the industry has been completing work to ever-tighter deadlines and smaller budgets. (And making it adaptable to more platforms, too!) But working under these pressures has turned out to be the perfect preparation for the current crisis. 

For some time now, we’ve been moving towards having flexible production models as a part of our everyday life. FCB has been working from home since early March, but we have been preparing to be adaptable to new ways of working for many years. Creative adaptability was already becoming a part of our day-to-day, and we had been solving many creative problems long before COVID-19 hit.

Adapting to remote working helped our global offices stay in touch. It helped us access the best talent across the world, and it helped improve our work/life balance. I know from my own experience that our offices in North America have never felt better-connected to each other than they do today.

Additionally, a few years ago we invested in creating an archivable, AI-enabled content management system, which our creatives and editors can use remotely. This was originally intended as a way to repurpose assets at a time when people were losing their appetites for large-scale productions. Little did we know just how useful that skill would become in 2020. 


Creating Content Can Continue

There’s no doubt that this crisis has created huge challenges for production. Not just for companies who are finding live shoots impractical, but also for post houses who are working out ways to get around the fact that their heavy-duty kit could become inaccessible in a world of social distancing and quarantines. And just as we have had to adapt to this new environment, so have our production and post-production partners. Fortunately, with old-fashioned creative problem solving we can still create quickly, without affecting quality. 

It’s important to consider that, in some countries, shoots are happening again. In fact, in certain parts of the world, they never stopped. Finding the right partners could be the difference between continuing to work or closing up shop. 

Recently, one of our clients needed filming with the theme “neighbors helping neighbors.” And in this age of social distancing, that’s not as easy as it used to be. However, there are companies like Getty, with videographers all over the world, who were able to get us content from where the virus has not so adversely affected daily life. For our part, we are delighted to be able to keep that relationship going and to keep those people employed. They even helped us come up with a way to get people’s permission digitally, so no paper was involved (minimizing the spread of germs). 

Another useful practice we developed over the past few years is something we call “search before you shoot.” This involves our creatives searching through our archives using the aforementioned AI tool to map out a plan for brand messaging which doesn’t involve an actual shoot, using every possible avenue open to them. 

For example, upon request, the post house Nice Shoes, while still complying with social distancing, can send one person safely into their studio. As a result, we can turn around work just as quickly and efficiently as we had before. 

For creatives, problem solving is what we do. And while what we face today is a bigger problem than what we might normally face day to day, we are absolutely up to the task.


Our Work is Never Finished

At FCB, “Never Finished” is always how we have summed up our belief that the best campaigns stay with people because they change and evolve with them. However, in the current climate, that motto has clearly taken on a profound new significance. What has always been a statement defining our ambition, declares our defiance in the face of this disease. 

It’s easy to feel as though our worlds have gotten smaller. The virus has had us all retreat into our homes, and many of us feel trapped. But if this crisis has closed off any opportunities, it is creativity that will open them again. 

Never give up.

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FCB Chicago, 2 months ago