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Pandemics Improve Behaviour

Columnists 40 Add to collection

The difficulties Covid has posed have led to greater fairness and understanding among different parties trying to make advertising, but will it last? Steve Davies, chief executive of the APA considers

Pandemics Improve Behaviour
We are coming out* of our shared unique experience. Unique because while pandemics aren’t unique, they are in the modern world and in the sense that humanity has tried to manage the outcome. 

We have learnt a lot through it and it has accelerated advances that probably would have taken years - remote shooting and remote working - so in the future we will know we can work for and with anyone effectively and the concept of being tied to a location in which work has to happen seems old fashioned. That is a huge change - in the past nearly all work involved bringing people together in one place.

I am going to talk about behaviour in a different sense though - how in being confronted with a huge obstacle to production, clients, agencies and production companies have come together to find a way around them. That great success has been achieved by everyone involved taking a bigger, more practical and kinder view of production problems than we commonly experienced. 

That started with advertisers taking the bold decision to underwrite the risks of Covid postponements and cancellations. That, as much as our Covid Guidelines,  got production moving. It reflected an understanding from advertisers that they are the clients, it is their commercials we are making and as much smaller entities (something they generally benefit from in terms of production companies’ low cost base) we were not in a position to underwrite those risks.

Agencies and production companies in turn understood that their obligation to clients was to avoid or at least minimise the actual risks to productions that clients had agreed to underwrite - I think it made production companies and agencies even more responsible.

It became an absolute aim of agencies and production companies to avoid a Covid cancellation. We could see that for a client to get nothing for the money it had spent on trying to get a commercial made would be a disaster for them and something we had to fight tooth and nail to avoid.

That was achieved - through the very busy period from July to the end of 2020, where nearly every production was difficult and had Covid barriers and some suffered Covid disruption, no productions were cancelled. Some looked like they might be but with the ingenuity and adaptability of production companies, the efforts of agencies and the understanding of advertisers, they were avoided.

Advertisers were considerate and accepted changes to the schedule, changes to the production and that the finished commercial might differ from the treatment they signed up to. They were also understanding and fair about additional costs - to replace a key person to a production or to move a production - because they could see that producers were doing everything in their power to keep the production on track and to save them from abortive costs.

Is this understanding confined to pandemic times or cannot it be continued in the post- Covid era?

That is an interesting question. Generally people/companies behave better in a real crisis. We saw that back in 2001 where some productions were disrupted by the grounding of aircraft etc. and perhaps it is human nature to go back to other mundane concerns - and prioritise/obsess about costs in the absence of an existential threat.

We must though try and build on the learnings from the more collaborative approach to addressing production challenges during these times.


*Subject to Indian variants etc. etc.


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Advertising Producers Association, Mon, 19 Apr 2021 13:50:26 GMT