Creativity and content production during a pandemic
6 July 2020

This article was authored by Sam Bird and Julian Esposito.

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In a rapidly changing environment, OMD EMEA has seen the emergence and acceleration of audience behaviours creating new challenges and opportunities for our clients. In this article, we explore some of those audience behaviours, how to adapt to them and produce content within the ‘new normal’ of lockdowns and social distancing.


Creativity in the face of new or accelerated audience behaviours


COVID-19 has triggered the biggest behavioural change many of us have ever seen. As society responded to a global crisis, OMD EMEA found entirely new behaviours emerging, caused by urgent and abrupt changes in most people’s situation, whilst already established behaviours were accelerated through the technology we embraced, and the additional time people have to scroll their social feeds. These behaviours ranged from an explosion of ‘pass it on’ nomination posts across social media platforms to what felt like half the UK working out with Joe Wicks every morning.


From the wide range of behaviours identified in the early stages of lockdown we anticipate that some will continue to offer opportunities for brands in the months and years to come. Below is a selection to be explored:

  • Virtual Experiences: The desire for shared experiences has shifted online with the cancellation of live events. We’ve seen particular success in virtual festivals through live streaming as well as continued growth in gaming offering brands the chance to connect with highly engaged audiences.
  • Community: Due to a shared sense of support and initiatives such as Clap for Carers, people now feel closer to their local communities than before lockdown. This offers brands the scope to help facilitate these new, stronger connections.
  • New Traditions: As people seek to establish new routines, we have seen new moments such as digitally guided yoga and post-work happy hours become regular features in our lives. Brands can create or enhance these traditions for their audiences.
  • Purpose: Brands that have actively taken a step to support those impacted by the crisis have been viewed favourably. Companies harnessing their power for positive social impact will likely yield long term benefits.
  • Chain Reactions: With more time comes more social media usage, we’ve seen audience embrace TikTok will gusto as they taken on and share challenges at scale. Brand truly participating in these shared moments can connect with audiences in a new way.


Brands have adapted to the volatile environment by lending a hand, showing support for key workers and even bringing a little distraction through humour or live entertainment. Whilst initial responses were in reaction to an unfolding crisis, the need for brands to adapt to new audience behaviours continues. For many, messaging needs to be adapted or rewritten to align with new consumer need states, assets need to be tailored for new media plans focused on an audience spending more time at home and a new sensitivity to social distancing measures must be applied to video, imagery and copy.


We all need to adapt but this ‘new normal’ doesn’t mean the fundamentals of advertising stop being fundamentals. If anything, it’s never been more important for brands to be relevant and distinctive in its communications, showcasing the benefits of its products or services with a clear call to action.


Responsible production in a socially distanced world


As always, the show must go on. This gives brands and their agencies a production headache as they seek to create and keep people safe within strict social distancing guidelines. In response to this challenge, we’ve seen the industry step up with the ingenuity and intrepid spirit for which it is famed. The following solutions have allowed OMD EMEA to overcome these production challenges and continue to create impactful work on behalf of our clients.


  1. Repurposing historic assets: Many of our clients have an abundance of historic assets at their disposal. Through resourceful tweaks to copy and visuals, we’ve be able to entirely new creative fit for their updated objectives.
  2. Enhancing stock video and imagery: Rarely an agencies first port of call, we’ve been able to incorporate stock assets within creative and use graphic overlays to maintain brand guidelines and consistency.
  3. Animation: We have leaned into animation (2D and 3D) in order to bring static imagery or copy-based communication to life for our clients with great success.
  4. Influencer Marketing: Already a key communication channel in their own right, we’ve increased the use of influencers-as-creators to capitalise on their production capabilities across multiple channels.
  5. Self-shoots: We’ve guided both talent and customers to capture content on our behalf to then be produced into branded campaigns.


With restrictions beginning to partially lift across Europe, our focus turns to more traditional approaches to production. Delivery of which must be conducted within government guidelines, always with safety as the priority. Skeleton teams will be guided offsite teams using the same technology that has enabled us all to work from home so effectively to date.


In summary


  • The crisis has initiated a series of opportunities for brands driven by increased free time, accelerated use of new technologies and new consumer behaviours.
  • Whilst some are temporary, it is anticipated that key behaviours will become established amongst the consumer.
  • The core tenants of impactful advertising continue to endure whilst new styles and sensitivities are emerging in response to imposed Covid-19 measures.
  • Production challenges are surmountable with new thinking, ways of working and technology.



  • The crisis has initiated a series of creative responses driven by increased free time, accelerated use of new technologies and new consumer behaviours
  • Whilst some are temporary it is anticipated some will stick at least for the recovery stage
  • Certain principles will endure (distinctiveness, product benefit , relevance, call to action) whilst new rules will emerge (social distancing sensitivity and self-shot production)
  • Production challenges are surmountable with new techniques, ways of working and technologies



Ensure you are equipped to embrace new creative themes and rules as well as production approaches to deliver the right consumer experience

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