The advertising industry is notoriously social, or at least it was until Covid-19 came along and forced people to stay at home. Creatives and industry podcasters Glenn Fisher, copywriter and host of All Good Copy
, and Giles Edwards, founder of the agency Gasp! and host of Call to Action
decided to give the people what they crave while also doing some good.
This week they’re launching IsolaTED, a video series of talks and interviews with leading industry figures straight from their living rooms and kitchen tables (and, in one case, the floor) – and they’re using the platform to help raise money for the Samaritans. As lockdown rumbles on and people struggle with the stresses caused by Covid-19, the charity’s volunteers have been helping thousands.
LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with Glenn to find out more about the project.
I'm not going to ask what *inspired* this as we're all yearning for a bit of connection under lockdown, but what catalysed it - or pushed it - from an idea that you were kicking around to something that you really wanted to bring to life?
Giles, the CD over at Gasp! Agency got in touch with me about the idea. He’d had a few talks cancelled due to what’s going on and got to thinking there’d be a load of people in the same boat, which sucks. I was supposed to be in India myself at this very moment giving a talk. I’m obviously not. I’m in my office on the east coast of England. At the same time, because everyone is stuck inside, it means we’re not getting to go to talks, connect with people or get to hear new insights from our fellow creatives. Again, that sucks. So, Giles came up with the idea of recording talks for people in isolation, from people in isolation. He got Tommy Mason and Matt Ballington in on the design and development side and, as we’d wanted to collaborate on something together for a while, I came in on the copy-front and helped to rustle up the speakers. Sounds cheesy, but I think we all just wanted to use our different skills and experience to do something positive while all the poop is hitting the fan.
Will there be any theme to the talks or is it more about variety?
It’s loose. Super loose. But we’re cool with that. For a start, when it comes to getting people to give up their time, we didn’t want to be too strict on themes. Naturally, some people have hit on an isolation theme, but others have just spoken about what they know. We also want as many fellow creatives to get involved and donate a talk, which we can host on the site. So again, we wanted to keep it simple for people. Giles and I have each run a podcast for a while now and we both know it’s those random moments that are most popular, when you just riff on something and create something interesting. I think we’ve left it open so that can happen.
Are these live or pre-recorded? Can you give us a little taste of some of the highlights in store?
They’re all pre-recorded. And all a bit random, which is great. Some people have done it to camera themselves. Mark Pollard, for example, lays on the floor to give his talk about anxiety, which is great. Vikki Ross is brilliant, as usual, talking one-to-one with you through her home computer. Then you’ve got some folks being interviewed over Zoom too. I quizzed Dave Trott about his creative process and Giles spoke to Theo Priestley about how to just keep doing things in lockdown. There’s a huge variety of brilliant people sharing all sorts of ideas and insight. And we hope more people will donate talks as we go live. Frankly, we’ve been blown away by the response already. We can’t say thank you to people enough. So I’ll say it here too: thank you.
When will IsolaTED go live and what sort of frequency/schedule are you envisioning? And where will be able to watch them?
The website is IsolatedTalks.com and we’re going live at some point on Wednesday. Tommy and Matt are cracking behind the scenes to get the site ready and Giles is furiously uploading videos like some kind of deranged character from Tron. When we go live there’ll be a big bulk of videos available like the cinema pick and mix of your dreams. Then there’ll just be more being posted as they come in, like the refillable cinema drink of your dreams. The aim of the game is to just get as many ideas on there as possible, as soon as possible, so more people see them and, most importantly, more people donate as much money as possible. That said, we know some people might not be in a position to donate financially, so that’s why we thought it would be nice to be able to donate talks too.
The project will raise money for the Samaritans - how did that relationship come about?
We spoke about raising money for a few different organisations because so many people need help right now. But from an impact perspective, we knew it would raise more money with a single call to action. We discussed it at length because it sucked to choose just one. Giles has felt the mental stress of isolation personally and for many it’s only going to get worse. We saw the Samaritans weren’t getting the same kind of support some other folks are getting and at the same time their work really speaks to the overall idea of the project, helping people in isolation. They were so positive about us helping too, which is nice. We hope the creative industry and ad land at large are able to use this platform as a way of showing their support. It costs £5 for the Samaritans to answer a call, so just a small donation like that could literally save someone’s life.
In the wider scheme of things, the lockdown has understandably increased people's willingness to engage in online events, talks and seminars - what impact do you think it will have on the long term when it comes to how we learn and connect?
Before Coronavirus came along, I think more and more people were ‘going virtual’, so to speak. I know people who sell virtual seats at their real-life conferences, and we’ve all stared into the abyss that is Instagram stories. What’s happened has accelerated that, by force. I think, when lockdown is over, most people will go back to how they were doing things. But the trend for doing things digitally will remain an upward one, and a few folks will have figured out you can so some things a bit differently and they still work. I think it’s possible we’ll see a premium put on real-life connections and more people do things online, but I don’t think this will be the ‘sea change’ many expect, but that’s only my view. As for virtual beer festivals, I can only see them surviving if you figure how to get everyone one of those fun small glasses you always get at real ones.