Media consultants are mulling whether the bootstrap production techniques necessitated by the pandemic — and the creative that resulted from them — are the new normal or just one part of the industry toolkit going forward.
“We do such due diligence on creating such beautiful ads, but I think with the content that people are digesting, it may not need to be as pretty in the future and it just needs to be really, really quick and in real-time,” Camille Padilla, president of VODIUM and a former political ad strategist, said during a virtual panel during C&E’s post-election discussion series this week. “I think as media producers and creatives, we should totally get on that gravy train.”
Terrance Green of Truxton Creative said one of the most powerful spots he helped create for the Biden campaign was one featuring supporters of Kamala Harris reacting to her VP selection. Following an ask for supporters to record and send through reaction videos via their iPhones, the campaign had dozens of submissions to work with.
“Within about 48 hours we had a great video and it allowed people to get this feeling that you couldn’t capture any other way,” said Green. “I think we have to, as producers, look for those opportunities and not eschew anything else that we do from a standard playbook. But I think we can expand our playbook and be more creative as a result.”
Julian Mulvey, a partner at Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, echoed Green in noting that low-budget creative is something that will be part of the toolkit, but certainly won’t come to dominate the industry: “We now have more tools for the future and there’s a greater acceptance of producing these types of spots. That gives us some potentially low-cost tools in our arsenal.”
The remote production wasn’t a plus for everyone this cycle, though. Republican media strategist Casey Phillips said that even though he ultimately created one of the most effective spots he did this cycle directing via Zoom, he couldn’t stand the process and hopes to not have to do it in future years.
What will stick around, he agrees, is the style: “We’ve moved toward a more gritty, real style and I think that will hang around for a while. I think that was happening anyway … We love doing big, sexy, fun shoots with a truck full of lights. That’s my favorite thing to do. But that wasn’t where the country or the audience was this year.”
GOP media consultant Kim Alfano thinks a move toward spots that are less highly-produced and more natural and authentic is positive for this political moment.
“People accepted a grittier product and I think it really brought an honesty to a lot of what we did, and it brought a lot of connection to the captive audience that we had,” said Alfano. “Taking some of the flash out of what we do and boiling it down to a more gritty, authentic, humanistic approach might settle some things that are boiling right now around the country.”