Four ways the evolution of production has been accelerated by COVID-19

While the pandemic has disrupted many common advertising practices, it has also inadvertently inspired the industry to discover core strengths and invent new effective and efficient ways of working. Thus unexpectedly, the coronavirus crisis has provided a true test of how clients and agencies can team up to benefit consumers in a more meaningful way. With millions of people turned to their screens in search of answers, resources or some entertainment or information to improve their lives, the innovations that have emerged in how we create content have accelerated an evolution both in production strategies and methods. And the result is that this progressive change is helping production to add value within the entire brand marketing process.

The struggle of COVID-19 has overall sparked some amazing change in advertising. We’ve seen innovation on many levels: brands changing the way they do business, the way they engage customers, and all of us as consumers living a new way of life at home and in work. The agency world has also evolved. We’re learning to work remotely and operate as a more connected and tech-infused world. We’re also learning alongside our clients, not just as creative, advertising and production experts, but as business strategists and partners. We’ve been pushed to collaborate in new ways and to develop even more meaningful campaigns.

So as we look at the catalytic impact the past few months has had on how we create and produce content, there are four key areas that we at Craft see that will drive the new normal in the enhanced role that production will be playing in building brands.

Here are four areas that will drive the new normal for Craft:

1. Technology Will Accelerate Production.

One thing I have learned is that we had tons of untapped potential among our enterprise platforms. In effect, we were running a muscle car like a Model T. And when we needed to leverage technology, it demonstrated that we had a lot more power to bring to bear than we were using. Tech has shown that not all our creative-making needs to have all participants in the same place, the same studio, all the time.

Creativity will forever require intimate ideation and close collaboration to create iconic ideas that propel brands to their most effective levels in delivering their essential purpose, and ideas that impact culture for the better. However, time, money and health and safety concerns will require a doubling down on tech to do our jobs. Productivity will increase as we do more making in less time to the benefit of our brands, their consumers, our teams and society. The tech-powered production transformation has been put on steroids and the progress that we have made to-date will inform future tools like remote shooting technology, ML, AR, and Robotic tasks, and put them to use at an exponential pace.

“Tech-powered production has been put on steroids. Remote shooting technology, ML, AR, and Robotic tasks will be put to use at an exponential pace.”

2. Production of digital assets will be about more than making, and will include deployment and optimization solutions.

As marketers we talk a lot about customization, data and niche targeting and all of this can be supported by a production strategy that delivers custom assets at scale and more. By infusing tech into our digital content production strategy we’re able to meet demands for fast-turnaround content, to pair production and DCO strategies with automation to produce assets at scale, and then to deploy them more speedily to varying audiences. We’re increasingly able to provide sophisticated solutions that offer brands data on how their assets are being used by teams across the globe, and how their target audiences are responding to them. By producing assets for new digital formats and through new ways of bringing content to life, we will improve consumers’ online shopping experiences. Creatives will brainstorm more with production to leverage digital effects such as CGI in order to bring products to life off the screen and drive added items to the checkout cart.

3. Global audiences have a lot more in common than we may realize.

COVID-19 has also taught us just how small the world is, by connecting us all within the same crisis. It will be interesting to see how global brands and product providers will reach a more connected digital, global world of consumers. Historically there has been much concern about the heavy lift of centralizing campaigns and content, but during COVID-19 we saw many brands pause all of their comms and content efforts in order to “get control” and drive consistency.

After COVID-19, as strategists, creatives and producers, we should look for ways to bring global solutions to our clients that are easy to execute.

“After COVID-19, as strategists, creatives and producers, we should look for ways to bring global solutions to our clients that are easy to execute.”

Rely on your producers to figure out how to bring an idea to life at scale. Technology plays a role here from an asset creation, storage and deployment perspective. When paired with a transcreation and translation strategy, we can offer the opportunity to reach new audiences with even more quality and impactful content. This will allow brands to maximize their creative and content investments.

4. Production is an essential pillar of success.

Let’s not go back to thinking of content creation as a linear process with production as the last stop.

In recent months we’ve all marveled at the ability of the production teams to simply get it done. Whether it’s negotiating new usage rights, working alongside creative during the development process or implementing processes on the fly to shorten timelines, production has been making it happen and demonstrating more of its potential.

Strategy, Creativity & Production should partner early and often: It’s hard to imagine the day where we aren’t working against rapid turn deadlines, but it will come. Don’t ignore the value of bringing production into planning earlier than later. Producers, channel experts and makers can work with the strategy and creative teams to troubleshoot concepts along the way, overall shortening the time it takes to execute the concept.

Regardless of yesterday, today or tomorrow’s conditions, brands and marketers will still rely on the production team to bridge the gap between ideation and reality. This is an exciting opportunity for us to change our old ways of working, and we’re ready for the challenge.