Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

“We Are Creating More Content Than Ever Before”

Advertising Agency
Singapore, Singapore
As a second wave hits Singapore, ‘circuit breaker’ measures attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus. Wunderman Thompson’s Gerri Hamill explains the impact on production, restrictions and her solutions for brands

When the outbreak of Covid-19 hit the world, Singapore was praised for its quick response that stopped the virus in its tracks. However, since then a second wave has taken over and is slowly infecting more and more of the country’s inhabitants with many schools and offices only closing in the last few weeks. The effects this has had on production and the needs to meet demand in what is normally a well ordered country has been a huge change.


Wunderman Thompson Singapore’s director of integrated content Gerri Hamill spoke to LBB’s Natasha Patel about overcoming restrictions, business implications and what she thinks are the best solutions for brands during these incredibly difficult times.



LBB> Tell us about life under lockdown in Singapore


Gerri> We are living in extraordinary times and it is in moments like these that we must remain vigilant and adhere to the guidelines set by those who are doing what they can to protect people and communities. So I have to say, it’s comforting to be in Singapore. It’s safe and very well organised here with the new circuit breakers introduced recently. 



LBB> What restrictions are there at the moment? 


Gerri> Working from home was implemented several weeks ago so this way of working is beginning to feel like the new normal. But, for our production department, we’ve had to come up with new solutions that not only solve the issue of no-contact shoots but meet the demand for content from brands and from consumers. In the recent weeks, 60% of people surveyed in Asia Pacific for our Covid-19 Perspectives series say they are consuming more social media, with 42% more streaming, 39% more online gaming and 33% more online shopping, which means we are creating more content than ever before.


In Singapore, the government allows exemptions from the circuit breaker should a company show cause for being an essential service and given Wunderman Thompson Singapore is producing essential content for social media for over 70 countries, we are exempt from some of the restrictions. This means we have all of our editing suites in Singapore fully operational.



LBB> How did your team at the agency manage to create work despite restrictions?


Gerri> We’ve decided to look at this as an exciting opportunity to pivot, to reinvent what it means to manage shoots. Over the past few weeks, we’ve done three shoots remotely – in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Bangkok and in Shanghai – and they all have worked out really well. As a result, we’ve created a great deal of social content, and quickly.


We hit a few speed bumps initially due to various country restrictions, but the health and safety of our crew members was always paramount so by limiting the amount of people on set, we helped to manage risk. We adapted processes and procedures that suited both client and production partners, and as an added bonus to delivering great work, we were supporting local production partners.



LBB> Generally speaking, what impact are the restrictions having on businesses?


Gerri> It does have a significant impact on business. Most brands are uncertain because so little can be predicted, which causes hesitation before large investments. But also with circuit breakers scheduled to end in May, it causes disruptions in traditionally followed ways to get to produced assets. Brands’ plans have to be focused on work that might be best suited to people doing it at home. Although it is likely these restrictions will be extended, it still places questions on how brands should best engage consumers. The impact is also fundamental on things such as supply to meet the demand or desperately driving up demand so sell dormant inventory. Brands that have not evolved to be digitally accessible are now struggling a lot more than others.



LBB> When things return to ‘normal’ what will the impact of these changes be?


Gerri> A good thing to come from this situation is that change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It has given us the ability to look into existing processes and procedures and see if there is a better, smarter way to do things. Nothing will ever be able to replace the feeling of working on and managing a big shoot, but it’s great to be able to provide effective solutions for clients during this time. We’ve not compromised on quality either. Everything delivered is still world class but we’ve had to be more innovative and creative in the way we get to that final product.


Every production always comes with its own challenges so no matter when normality returns, we will always approach every project and every shoot with professional curiosity and ensure we are delivering work that meets clients’ needs.  



LBB> What solutions, if any, are there for brands?


Gerri> Anything that is high impact with short turnaround timelines and low execution costs. Put simply it is about three words:

Refresh – dusting out and tweaking old brand and tactical assets from libraries to increase saliency, relevance and impact.

Reuse – all about assets that are current and ready to go, sweat them, dial up media spend on effective current assets.

Recycle – existing raw footage from earlier shoots or outtakes from old shoots, combined with other existing brand assets and with stock footage to produce brand new assets without the cost
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