The Covid-19 crisis has certainly changed the entire creative and communications industry. Agencies nowadays are not only creating campaigns remotely but are also pitching for new businesses. The travel and commuting time saved in a day has resulted in improved efficiency and productivity. While there has been an impact on storytelling because of the lockdown; our advertising folks have converted the crisis into an opportunity by taking storytelling to the next level.
In an effort to continuously innovate around the Covid-19 coverage on the Media, Marketing and Advertising universe; Medianews4u brings to you creative veterans who share their views on how storytelling has changed and evolved in times of Covid-19.
The National Creative Director of Denstu Impact, Anupama Ramaswamy, talks exclusively to Medianews4u about storytelling in times of Covid-19, and its evolution post this menace.
Tell us about how the business for the agency been shaping up? Which are some of the recent campaigns/communication credited to Denstu Impact that you would want to highlight?
These are extraordinary times. The business is not good. I cannot get more truthful than that. The new order of the day for advertising is reassurance and hope. And that is exactly what every brand which means most of us, the agencies, is telling the consumer.
Immediately after the lockdown we were one of the first to have done a complete #WFH ad for VIVO salutes #HeroesWhoCare. But we did not realise that it will become the “new normal” in filmmaking. We can see a similar wave of identical ads, using stock footage, testimonials via video chat, repurposed social media material, or a mix of all.
Talking about how COVID-19 has struck all of us very hard, brands are still being a part of the conversation… What have been your recommendations as the National Creative Director of the mighty Denstu Impact network?
We are all finding ways, in which our brands can stay relevant and do not go silent in these unusual times. However we need to cognisant of the fact that this is a time of mass sickness, death, and uncertainty.
Brands and corporations can definitely talk about how they are helping the society but should not come across as boastful. We in the agency are working on recovery plans for most brands to steer them in the right direction during these times. We know the world is somewhat damaged and every piece of storytelling needs to contribute to an inclusive, sensitive and a hopeful world.
Tell us how storytelling has been hampered by content production coming to a standstill? What is Denstu Impact doing to ensure a continuous flow of content for its clients?
Digital experiences are becoming more engaging. Platform-specific work is on the rise. Brands must act responsibly and compassionately. Since people are glued to their screens and are lonely, uncertain and may be scared, we need to engage with people via social media and other online channels, while avoiding the typical posting of product features. Instead, use the media to relay knowledge or expertise that could be helpful. Fitness, health and lifestyle have taken the front seat in content consumption. Money related information is also useful. Also a basic flow of information and transparency from brands and companies is most important in these vague times. My guess is people will be more willing to engage with the pandemic-related content or advice.
My next question is very important as the most important asset in advertising is its people… so during these hard times, how are you keeping up the morale of your teams that are working remotely? What are you doing to make sure that the mental health of employees remains stable?
Motivation is important but right now the safety of everyone is key. Transparency and honesty is what will keep the teams stress free.
Yes, it is important to let your employees know about what exactly is the road map planned by the company from time to time but it is equally important for the leadership to tell them that they are valued at work.
You have to keep people focused, and ensure they maintain a routine. Which means they report on time and follow a structured way of working. Self-isolation is not easy. The brightest of minds can slip into depression. When remote work is the only option, technology becomes imperative to staying connected, efficient, and productive. If employees aren’t informed and don’t understand what is going on inside the company, staying motivated may become difficult.
Appreciation and celebration in the workplace are necessities especially when we are not meeting each other every day. We need to try and virtually meet the team and celebrate occasions to enhance engagement and connection.
How has your experience of working from home been?
“Work at home” is working well… so far so good. COVID-19 has accelerated our digital transformation. We are in constant touch and in fact we have never been so together. The fact that everyone is talking more, interacting more and there are no more silos.
Having said that yes, people are having to do household chores like cooking cleaning and the least we can do during these times is be tolerant. The overall tolerance levels have gone up. People are respecting each other’s time and efforts.
As a content expert, what are some of your learnings from this crisis?
People who never expected – nor ever wanted – to use digital technology to communicate or work now have no choice, and so they are learning how to. People are watching more comedy and humour based content. There is an environment of tension and so people do not want more bad news. However you cannot be funny when it comes to advertising. That has moved to sensitive and informational content. And the funny thing is people do not have time and yet they have a lot of time to view content. And while not much of new content is being published but consumption has gone up like how.
According to you how will storytelling shape up post the lockdown? Do you see any ‘new normal’ being adopted post the lockdown?
Honestly, while everyone may want to say they know, and can predict the future of storytelling, trust me no one knows at this point in time. We are all in a limbo space. Once we come out of this situation, the world may go back to what it was or new rules will be written. But at any given time, people like stories. We just need to wait and watch to know “what kind”.
How can all of us deal with stress?
People, please stay safe. Practice physical distancing and not social distancing. We need to be more social than ever. Make that video call or the long overdue phone call right now. Take care of a needy family or maybe two or more if you can. Be sensitive and tolerant. Experiment, try new things, learn something that you never wanted to learn. Talk. A lot. Take care of children – while they don’t look to be affected, trust me they are. Try not to eat alone. Talk to parents, tell them everything is ok and will be. Smile at your neighbours and talk to the birds. I don’t know which one may help, but one or two of them would definitely make you feel good.