It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has upended how we all do our jobs. Whether it’s no change to your daily job other than your shorter commute from your bed to your couch, or continuing to work on-site in essential industries with strict mask and social distancing precautions in place, everyone is adjusting to working a different way.
Advertising is no different, especially for in-person productions. Right off the bat, as stay-at-home orders and a general world panic set in, many brands scrambled to change their plans and produce new, COVID-19 centric ads. In many cases, brands’ current advertising wasn’t going to cut it in the new environment where priorities were quickly changing and everything in the world seemed a little sideways.
Given limited resources and the desire to push out new ads on an expedited timeline, video production included the use of previously unused b-roll and stock footage, paired with royalty-free music. Many brands tended to think alike with their music and copy choices, resulting in a slew of indistinguishable ads, as this supercut so hilariously illustrates.
Amélie was in a unique position during this time.
While other brands were pulling their advertising, many of our clients media buys and spots stayed put. Since most of the work we do is fundamentally purpose-driven and we work with many public sector clients, we promote the well-being of people instead of selling a tangible product. The pandemic actually drove our communications to become even more important as we were conveying messages such as opioid treatment programs still being open and accepting patients, or reminding folks of the importance of practicing safe behaviors in regard to storage of marijuana in the home with increased time spent around pets and children.
But after some of the dust settled and we all realized we were in this for the long haul (and not just for two weeks of March), it became clear that we needed to figure out a safe way to continue on with our work, even if the status quo had changed.
Advertising has adapted in many different ways: clever utilization of stock footage and user-created content, illustration and animation, the use of CGI, and some video production companies even sending talent “production kits” complete with a camera, basic lighting, and instructions on how to operate. But thankfully, we’ve also been able to execute safe, socially-distanced productions!
These in-person productions allow for some sense of normalcy, while at the same time seeming like something from another dimension. Gone are the days of craft services and cramming the whole team around a monitor in video village. Now we’re wearing masks 100% of the time, staying six feet apart, limiting the number of people on set, ordering individual box meals, taking temperatures, slathering on hand sanitizer, signing consent forms, and more.
Is it hard to wear a mask for 15-hour shoot days? Absolutely. Is it a strange new bullet in my job description to call around asking for COVID-19 rapid test cost estimates for talent? Sure.
But, all of these precautions have allowed us to get back to a place where we can continue to create valuable content and communications. Some clients we’ve already done shoots for during the pandemic are the Colorado Department of Transportation and the City and County of Denver, with great on-set success. However, we’re still facing limitations due to these precautions. And that’s OK!
We need to give ourselves (and other brands) grace to explore this new territory where spots are written for the minimum number of people. Where talent is in charge of their own hair and makeup (we see you, Taylor Swift!), and audio is recorded entirely via boom mics. We are in a worldwide pandemic, and so we expect things to be different, for productions to have a different level of quality that we’re typically used to. Everyone is still adjusting and placing safety above all, which is how it should be. What’s important, is that we’re able to get back out there.
Katelyn Aberle, Senior Account Manager