Brands Need Agile Creative Partners

The death drum for ad agencies has been beating for the better part of a decade now as brands have had to increase their agility so their creative production can keep up with the speed of the digital era. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has brought with it a significant paradigm shift to our industry, shining a bright spotlight on the necessity of a nimble marketing approach—one that is flexible and fast enough to keep up with an ever-changing world.

The companies that are going to survive this crisis and the ensuing economic downturn are those that adapt quickly to maintain a firm connection to their audiences. The past months have made it evident that agencies—as they operate today—are simply not optimally structured to offer brands the speed and value they need.

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Marketing Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic Response

We were already in the midst of an evolution in the way advertising operated before our lives were upended by the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The shifts in behavior we saw only catalyzed those changes. The incredible surge in video consumption is perhaps the clearest example of this point. Consumers’ favored mediums are shifting, and the number of arenas where brands can reach audiences is rapidly increasing.

The brands that have shone in the past months are those that were quick to adapt under challenging circumstances, customizing their creative not only for the moment, but also for specific audiences. There are a number of lessons we can heed from these standouts that will be instructive as the global crisis continues for the foreseeable future.

  1. Creative and messaging must be topical. Our lives will continue to shift unpredictably and your brand must maintain the ability to adapt to all of the new normals to come. Jack Daniel’s did this particularly well. They were one of the first major brands to incorporate the new reality of social distancing and stay-at-home while offering reassurance through an uplifting brand spot.

  1. New creative must be produced fast. We’re all aware of how quickly things have moved—much of the global economy was shut off practically overnight, after all. The most drastic shifts in behavior are hopefully behind us, but by most predictions, the next 18 months are going to be marked by fits and starts (a.k.a. “The Dance”) as nations find the balance between reopening and limiting resurgences of outbreaks. Until COVID-19 is fully eradicated by the mass adoption of a viable vaccine, companies will have to adjust to a wholly unpredictable future.

The Hammer and the Dance

  1. With consumer spending way down in most industries, budgets are tightening—ad budgets are anticipated to decline the rest of the year. However, this is not the time to cut your marketing budget, and with most eyeballs concentrated on video, you’ll want to keep your brand in the conversation by deploying video content across multiple platforms. Now’s the time to find cost-effective solutions that can support a consistent stream of video production. Agencies—with their large overhead costs and slow turnaround times—are likely not the answer.
  2. Operating with fewer resources means that you’ll want to hit it out the park from the getgo. Producing data-back creative has never been more important considering the demise of the cookie and the diversity of platforms consumers live on. Videos must be optimized for platform and audience so you can see meaningful ROI.
  3. And with so many new ad-supported platforms entering the fray this year (e.g., Quibi, Peacock, the surge of TikTok, etc.), brands must adopt a testing ethos, harnessing a creative partner that can develop platform-specific, timely, and smart creative to constantly finetune campaigns in response to viewer behavior.

All of these points ladder up to the fact that brands need truly modern, agile partners. Save for the rare occasion, most agencies aren’t equipped to handle this pace of productivity. The economic downturn, too, has hit agencies particularly hard—many of them have had to make drastic cuts that limit their capabilities. In-house teams can act more nimbly, but we’ve heard that many of them are struggling to find video production solutions with studios closed and most employees working from home.

I’m particularly proud of QuickFrame’s sustained ability to deliver on all of these accounts. We’ve been able to leverage our distributed global network of professional makers to continue a steady stream of video production for our partners, vitally supporting them in their efforts to remain relevant and connected with their bases.

Even as the entire QuickFrame team has gone remote, we’ve sustained the same operational model and cadence of production. True to our name, we’ve executed concepts in as little as a few hours. We enabled longtime partner, Colgate (and their agency Red Fuse), to honor frontline workers through a platform-specific campaign in under a week and helped a global transportation company get country-specific animated safety videos to market in 48 hours.

Brands have found particular success with many of our no-shoot options, including net-new animation and repurposing existing assets. Additionally, we’ve been able to produce completely remote UGC-style live-action concepts for our customers to deliver branded creative content that feels like native video to trending apps like Snapchat and TikTok, ensuring our customers can take advantage of the opportunity in those rather uncrowded spaces.

And to ensure that marketing dollars are spent effectively, many QuickFrame customers have been turning to our Video Intelligence technology, which pinpoints variables in video creative that are linked to performance. Video Intelligence allows our customers to create smart, data-informed video creative that simply works.

Recalibrating the Brand Marketing Mindset

The developments over the last couple of months have been evidence enough that brands need to be highly adaptable for at least the next 8-12 months. Act quickly to find the right creative partners to maximize your marketing budget so you can remain top-of-mind with your customers throughout this crisis.

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