Tue, 28 Jul 2020 15:21:26 GMT
Can there be any going back; and if so, should we? Businesses across the globe are wrestling with that question as lockdown restrictions slowly ease, perhaps none more so than the production industry.
Alongside practicing social distancing rules that have made business as usual impossible, producers have had to contend with shifts in audience behaviour that have been more rapid than anything the industry has witnessed before. All of which is to say nothing of disrupting trends which have already been building up over the past few years.
So, how can the modern producer ensure they’re riding the wave, and not being dragged underneath it? To find out, LBB spoke to experts from across the industry. McCann CRAFT’s Chief Production Officer for EMEA Sergio Lopez, MPC LA’s Executive Producer Karen Andersen, Second Child's Managing Director Scott Chinn, and Adstream’s Business Affairs Director Lizzie Carter all offered their views on the changing nature of their craft.
The Revolution will be Multi-Channel
Speaking to experts in the industry, it’s easy to identify a significant challenge in keeping on top of ever-increasing amounts of output.
“The fundamental skills you need to bring to the job haven’t changed hugely over the past ten years”, says Scott Chinn, “but the complexity of how you deploy them undoubtedly has. Generally, the modern producer has to make more with less, and somehow do it without sacrificing quality”.
For Karen Andersen, coming to terms with the increase in output is one of the key factors in the role of a modern producer. “The amount of social deliverables, for example, has increased significantly from ten years ago”, she explains, “and many times they’ve been created by a different team with competing needs”.
The challenge that arises from such a crowded brief is creating a campaign with any kind of consistency. “There is not a single brand in the world that doesn’t communicate on digital and social media”, says Sergio Lopez. “But it is paramount that all of those channels work seamlessly together. That’s why producers need to look at the whole picture, helping creatives and clients find the best way to produce multi-channel campaigns that are integrated”.
Making life as simple as possible for a producer is of critical importance to their success. Adstream’s Lizzie Carter notes that “as the complexity level of a campaign increases with more versions and more endpoints, it’s so vital that processes are streamlined, and simplified to achieve speed to market – whether that is responding to the latest industry trend, competitive threat or wider societal issues. Brands and their partners need to be able to react quickly, and workflow complexity shouldn’t prohibit that”.
Navigating the Covid Crisis
Social distancing rules and filming on-set don’t mix. However, the industry did prove itself remarkably adaptable when it came to finding workarounds during the heaviest periods of pandemic-induced lockdown.
“This pandemic has also required us to question and adapt some very fundamental aspects of production”, says Scott. “But flexibility and collaboration have always been the hallmarks of great producers. Adapting to the realities of Covid-19 put these skills to the test in a major way, but great producers always find a way”.
Sergio also takes a positive view of the changes the pandemic has brought about. “I believe It has strengthened relationships between clients and the production teams that bring value to the brand. You can tell how good of a production team a brand has based on the quality of the creative, their digital presence, and how quickly they were able to react to the global conversation”.
However, there are some changes Covid has forced that may not stand the test of time. Considering the dramatic uptick in remote working, Karen notes that “Zoom meetings have been a surprising success, but at the same time there is a lot of synergy in hosting clients in a bay and walking through the work in real time, and I know I’ve missed that. This can result in wip delays or many more iterations if not communicated effectively over a call”.
There’s no doubt that effective communication has become more important than ever in order to counteract the lack of personal interaction. Lizzie Carter explains that “we’ve been lucky to have technology in place to mitigate time lags on creative approvals and even contractual amendments. This has been a saviour, particularly when lockdown began as it meant business as usual for our ongoing projects. Nothing quite beats a face to face with a client, but virtual meetings have connected us with our clients on a different level than before, humanising the interaction as our work and home personas fuse together”.
Adapt to Survive, Align to Thrive
Amidst an uncertain future, clear communication and simple workflows can be gold dust for a producer. That simplicity can be a vital asset for the constant process of adaptation that’s appeared to be required for success in the modern industry.
“The greatest challenge in my opinion”, says Sergio, “is protecting the creative while being in the middle of unclear-and-ever-changing legislation, faster-than-ever evolving audience and constant re-calibration of marketing strategies”.
“The greatest challenge is supporting a strong creative vision and maintaining a high level of craft’, agrees Scott. “However, the most time-consuming aspect of the job tends to be getting the stakeholders on all sides aligned on an executable plan.”
That process of constant evolution is one that’s invariably shared with the client. “At the end of a project, even if the client is satisfied with the work, the experience is what they remember”, notes Karen. “If there are difficulties along the way that are not sufficiently addressed, the quality takes a back seat to perception of the process. It requires a producer with a nuanced skill set including a clear knowledge of the production process, responsiveness, passion for the work, deftness in procuring overages, and a bit of the therapist thrown in for good measure”.
In a complex and multi-channel future, risk mitigation could prove a key factor in success. Lizzie Carter observes that “at a time where reactivity is key and a brand’s tone of voice and messaging are under the microscope more than ever, it’s crucial for business affairs to collaborate with production teams and brand clients to help offer guidance and call out any areas that could have unintended consequences and reputational damage”.
Surviving the Storm
The production industry, it appears, has been in a state of flux since before the Covid pandemic began. It follows, then, that it may continue to change rapidly after the worst effects of Coronavirus subside. On such a stormy sea, it may well be that the qualities of adaptability, communication, and creativity are the most reliable guides.