This article on innovations in creative production was written by Greg Paull and first featured in MARKETING Weekender

Imagine an ad shot in four hours and approved in five working days, starring your spouse, your four children, and your dog. The set? The laundry room in your own home. All filmed on an iPhone. If this idea were presented to a client a few years ago, it would have been regarded a joke. But this is no April Fools. Check out Snuggles “Laundry Room” by TBWA/Chiat/Day New York.

WFH doesn’t WFE (work for everyone)

With the current health crisis forcing social distancing and work from home measures, marketers and agencies have little choice but to evolve their ways of working in order to create pandemic-appropriate communications. Though many large advertisers are postponing campaigns, according to the WFA, 79% are still creating new ones in response to COVID-19 and finding ways to work around the usual creative production process.

Common obstacles include:

  • No access to studios, crews and talent which prevents photo and video shoots.
  • Limitations of working with existing assets and recuts of existing work.
  • Lack of time for thoughtful creativity, with increased pressure to deliver quick and agile work.
  • Pressure for fast turnaround, even though teams are working from home.

A recent study by eConsultancy revealed that marketers with more than £50 million in annual revenue, who made up 22% of the survey’s respondents, are most concerned about how remote working will impact various forms of team collaboration.

While working remotely can put pressure on both marketers and agencies, creative teams in agencies who are used to brainstorming sessions and working as copy-art pairings may find the new approach most challenging. While Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and other such telecommuting platforms have been instrumental in helping people work remotely, the shift for creative teams who are used to ‘war room’ ways of working will experience a steep learning curve.

Five new ways of working

Since agencies do not have months to conceptualize, execute and shoot campaigns, they can no longer rely on thinking outside the box. Many are breaking the box entirely and finding unique ways to create communication materials. None of these shifts will be short-term as we move forward, and all marketers and agencies should take a second look at contracts and agreements to ensure that they are aligned for the future.

1. Technology will take a bigger seat

Film has always been time-consuming, expensive and complex. AI and Facial Mapping technology allows for dynamic changes and facilitates accurate language, versioning/dubbing, and personalizing actors’ messages to camera. Imagine filming talent once and changing the voice over on demand. Automation tools in the workflow also allow for efficient input from remote stakeholders in the production process. So say goodbye to the chaos of on-set logistics and hello to computer-generated imagery, virtual sets, artificial intelligence, and dynamic video engines for asset production.

2. Timeliness requires efficient processes

Expect fast-tracking content without extensive testing and vetting procedures. Creating work in real-time means clients will need to be part of the process, instead of the more common practice of work being sent back and forth for feedback and approvals. There will also be new partnerships and platforms developed that allows brands to create and manage campaigns themselves.

3. Demand for low-budget alternatives

With advertising investment falling worldwide, marketers are going to be looking for budget alternatives. Remote production will create opportunities for fresh ideas. We might see an increase in the use of typography, animation, and graphic design. Sound design, which tends to be overlooked, is another form of media that can be better leveraged.

4. Less location, more contribution

Where talent is located will become less important than what they can contribute. Even after the travel sector opens up, people will commute less than before. Agencies need to source ideas and production from where they think the best pockets of talent exist regardless of physical space. There will be more openness and need to work with talent from every corner of the globe.

5. Turning influencers into content producers

Marketers are reaching out to influencers to create marketing assets even though agencies have been setting up remote working facilities and creative work continues to be developed despite constraints. This development is significant as it suggests that marketers are beginning to look at partners outside the agency ecosystem to create communications that meet demands of increased content consumption and an ever-advancing news cycle.