Can you make a TV ad during a pandemic?

4 minutes Insight

Let’s just put this out there. TV advertising isn’t dead. It’s alive and kicking and is still the most effective way to drive brand growth. In 2020 life has changed and we are consuming more TV due to Covid. As brands we also are able to access TV advertising in a more granular and targeted way with Addressable TV - this lowers the high cost barrier of entry of traditional linear TV and enables you to put your brand on the big screen right in front of your audience, when they are watching.

This year during lockdown we won an interesting new brand - Ion8. Ion8 make 100% leakproof, one touch opening, fashionable refillable drinks bottles. They have a fantastic product, and we partnered with them to improve brand awareness through a bold and memorable TV ad.

Madness at the height of a pandemic?

No. It makes perfect sense. Take a look at the ad and read more about how we made it happen.

The Process

We kicked off with a creative idea which was bold, product focussed but realistic, so no huge cast, no overseas locations, everyone distanced so no tight spaces or enclosed sets. Common sense really.

Then we put together a production team who functioned as a pod, and hired a talented producer/Covid officer who would oversee all restrictions and distancing measures and ensure the safety of the entire crew and talent.

Our idea uses audio to engage the viewer, so it had to be good. In this case, we created a contemporary tune in minor key to echo artists like Stormzy, who are hugely appealing to our audience of fun loving, professional, 18-30’s.

To sync with this we captured engaging content of real people using their bottles in varying contemporary scenarios and added plenty of graphic colour and movement to echo the distinctive brand style.

We commissioned a hugely talented up and coming composer with the simple brief of creating a contemporary soundtrack, but with the strict instructions to use only sounds which come naturally from the bottle, cue tapping, banging, clicking, flipping, shaking and tipping. This was all done with the aim of keeping the ad authentic and bottle focussed. With this done, we moved onto casting, probably the most difficult pre-production aspect to any TV ad.

Casting was interesting, once we’d decided on our talent (actors and dancers), they were all tested for Covid before any face-to-face contact was made. Inevitably this threw up one or two issues and withdrawals, with one person withdrawing only two days before the shoot. Despite all this we put together a talented group who were all cast remotely using showreels and photographs.

Every shoot day was set in multiple locations with both interior and exterior scenes, so it was critical that the Covid officer briefed every one of the safety rules before each scene and took team temperatures.

If anyone’s temperature became high, we would need to close down production and isolate. Luckily no-one’s did. All crew wore masks at all times in order to protect themselves and the talent and it was pre-agreed that shots or edits were approved remotely, keeping everyone in the loop on what we were doing. It not only kept them safely distanced but also saved them headache of travelling to the shoot each day.

Interior shots were kept to a small team, just the talent, the director and DOP/cam op. This allowed for distancing measures to be adhered to at all times.

With the edit, post-production and sign-off all done remotely, the final edit ran smoothly with daily feedback and tweaks done almost instantaneously.

Having shot many ads over the years, it was very notable how simple and efficient the production of this one was. With the remote feedback and sign-off in place and a great collaborative mindset all round, the final product is a triumph, especially given we created the entire thing in 5 weeks from initial conception to finished ad.

So, Yes. It’s most definitely possible to make a great TV ad during a pandemic.


Case Studies

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