Consultants are incurring higher costs, the risk of potential lawsuits and navigating fresh union protocols to complete shoots during the ongoing pandemic.
Digital and traditional media consultants have had to explore every option to generate content since the pandemic started and lockdowns went into effect.
When mining old photos to generate campaign narratives and shooting indoor selfie videos with direct-to-camera appeals isn’t enough — consultants have started tiptoeing back into pre-COVID style video shoots. Only now there’s no such thing as a pre-COVID set.
“It’s a lot more planning and, in my mind, you have to assume increased costs to do it right, to do it safely,” said Raghu Devaguptapu, a partner at Democratic media firm Left Hook.
Today, Devaguptapu’s sets include a chief COVID compliance officer, someone checking temperatures, ensuring the presence of handwashing stations, and someone playing referee for social distancing.
“People can’t just go into a cooler and grab a bottle of water,” Devaguptapu said Wednesday during C&E’s Creative Summit online conference. “How are you applying make-up? There are so many facets and details that you have to functionally work through.”
While all that is happening behind the scenes, consultants are under pressure to make sure that what comes out is still going to appeal to voters — whatever screen they see it on.
“When we’re filming stuff, sure, they’re not wearing masks, but these are individuals in their own set-up scenario, and they’re talking to the camera,” said Camille Padilla, VP at media firm 4C M + M.
“It still comes off as if this is a regular shoot, but it’s behind the scenes, where those COVID steps are very, very evident. We don’t have make-up, no mic, only [a] boom, six-foot distances. There’s some grittiness to it, but that’s the beautiful aspect of it.”
Even with all these changes, consultants are under the same deadline pressure. Moreover, they’re working from home and, in some cases, calling or Zooming into the set, making collaboration a bit more challenging. “With working from home, communication is lagged,” said Padilla.
Still, for consultants persisting with COVID-style self-generated content there may be an added benefit, according to Mariana Spada, chief creative officer at Tectonica Digital Campaign Solutions in Barcelona.
“It puts the candidate, it puts leaders in a position of vulnerability. You can also use that to create a certain sense of empathy with your supporters,” she said. “In Zoom, we’re all equal.”