Aishwarya Ramesh

Challenges of creating content from home in light of the covid-19 crisis

As the coronavirus changes how viewers consume content, creative folk of ad agencies need to step up to meet the challenge...

The coronavirus has caused offices and businesses of all sizes to pull their shutters down and employees have had to work from home. Lockdown or not, employees of most businesses aren’t venturing out of their homes and this has changed the way we work. Taking this into account, Twitter marketing hosted a 40-minute long live session on how brands are creating content while working remotely. The session saw participation from PG Aditya, executive creative director at Dentsu Webchutney, Ogilvy’s group creative director Kainaz Karmakar and Leo Burnett’s chief creative officer Rajdeepak Das.

Aditya began the discussion by pointing out that for most content creators, creating from home is a habit, but with an agency – it’s a bit more structured, so the way we think and create content has changed. “WFH has been a new revolution for some of us,” began Das. “When working from an agency, there’s always the fact that everyone came together over a coffee to create new things. When we started working from home, we made sure we did a lot of video calls to get used to the new system,” he says. “We wanted to give people the feeling of togetherness. We took to it as one big new experiment because essentially, as creative people, we love challenges. It becomes important to brief someone in detail when working remotely since our thought processes tend to be different,” says Das. He added that they missed their chai-sutta breaks and that the travel time being cut, saved them at least 3-4 hours while traveling to client offices.

“Truth is, when it comes to working from home, you can’t complain about creative blocks because the idea that you can come up with is always going to be bigger than your restrictions. Granted, working from home was hard at first, but we’re getting used to it and we’re finding our ways around it,” began Karmakar. She took the example of a recent ad film that she had shot – for HUL’s Brooke Bond Red Label tea.

She mentioned that the shoot happened on a zoom call. The couple who starred in the film were actors and their son – a DOP. “We’re finding ways to employ DOPs and other resources and shoot, without breaking any lockdown restrictions,” she said. Karmakar also stressed on the importance of relatability in the ad film – pointing out that sometimes, an ad filmmaker has a concept in mind but may not be able to execute it.

She takes the example of Vodafone’s ads - Piyush Pandey's recent one and the ones with the zoozoos to talk about the craft of ad filmmaking and the process of creating memorable content. “Craft is something we should always work on because it pushes our industry ahead, and if we have to be under lockdown for a longer period of time, we have to find different ways of excelling at our craft. The films we have right now are good, but at the end of the day, these are short term solutions to making good ad films. The novelty of covid is going to wear out eventually,” she points out.

Das chimed in with a quote – “Sometime for a creative person, the best type of freedom is not having any freedom at all. That’s what really pushes you to experiment with the limited resources you have on hand.” He spoke about his experience creating an ad for their client “The thing about Indian weddings is that the muhurat (the auspicious time) is very important. If you miss one, you might not get another date/time for ages after. We pitched the idea of a virtual wedding to the client and they immediately agreed,” he said.

Karmakar points out that the challenge of creating content in these settings is that the circumstances and information keep mutating. "Real time responses are our biggest challenge. The most important thing is understanding what the consumer needs and helping him achieve it. The way we work with clients has also drastically changed – we work more closely and more deeply with them since everyday, the clients are getting new information and we have to find ways to incorporate it into our strategy and respond accordingly,” she says. She adds that beyond working closely with clients, the agencies themselves need to give importance to their employees' mental health and take measures to be empathetic and try to understand what the person is really going through.

Watch the full discussion below.