COVID-19 has upended the entire advertising industry from causing the Upfronts to either be canceled or go digital to pushing back production and leaving fall programming in jeopardy. And even with the world slowly starting to open back up, brands, agencies, and networks continue to ask themselves: how do you create premium content in a stay-at-home environment?
When you break it down, it all starts with the ability and willingness to adapt. For example, ViacomCBS Shopper Marketing recently partnered with creative commerce agency TPN Retail to highlight the extensive Burt’s Bees Renewal skincare line. But right when the campaign was about to get underway, stay-at-home advisories started sweeping the country.
With the campaign centered around Burt’s Bees’ product expansion – including a full skincare line as well as makeup products like blush, eye shadow, lip gloss, and of course, lip balm – we began searching for solutions. And we quickly realized that premium ad campaigns can not only be powered via virtual content, but exceed all expectations while providing a unique take that transcends traditional norms.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we embraced remote production:
Embracing Virtual Content Creation
VCBS decided to enlist country music singer and OneTree Hill star Jana Kramer, to create a multi-faceted content campaign that would highlight the skincare line from Burt’s Bees, and its retail partnership and “Self-Care Saturday” program with Walmart. The campaign was originally supposed to be done in Nashville at Kramer’s house, but instead, the shoot was done entirely over Zoom.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we decided to move forward with an entirely remote approach for producing the campaign,” said Mille Alderman, Brand Manager Shopper Marketing at Burt’s Bees. “But the fact that we have been collaborating with Jana Kramer and ViacomCBS for three years helped create a solid foundation for the campaign, and is a true testament to the importance of developing long-term relationships with partners.”
To execute this, VCBS started by shipping equipment like a ring light and stabilizer to Kramer to give her all the necessary gear to turn out premium content. Then the production team set up a Virtual Set and Virtual Video Village through Zoom ‘breakout rooms’, which enabled everyone involved to watch the live production. This gives brands, agencies, and talent the ability to review and approve everything from lighting, sound, cuts, and more, mimicking what it is like on set during a premium shoot.
Additionally, VCBS set Kramer up on a cloud-based platform where she could upload content, and professional photographers gave her husband – who in this case, was the stand-in photographer – real-time feedback on lighting and other factors to ensure high-quality assets. The production and creative teams then went over content with the brand and talent in real-time, even having them watch some of the capture to ensure they were comfortable with outcome and brand consistency.
“We were all really amazed with how it felt like we were actually there – we got to see in real-time what the set looked like and how it would come across in video and photo,” said Alderman. “And Jana and the ViacomCBS team did a great job of making sure feedback from the teams was heard and incorporated, with a focus on inclusivity every step of the way.”
Digital Distribution With A Purpose
All in all, the effort spawned more than 20 pieces of premium content for the Summer, Spring, Fall, and Winter season, purposely crafted to showcase and highlight Burt’s Bees retail partnership with Walmart. The content will be leveraged on a variety of platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, CMT social promotion, and Walmart.com, with all assets and social promotion driving to the retailer. The assets will also be leveraged within IG stories, which will incorporate “swipe up to buy” features within the platform, enabling shoppers to purchase on Walmart.com.
While COVID continues to hit the advertising industry, it’s up to us to adapt to the current situation and seek out new solutions. Just because the “normal way” is no longer possible, doesn’t mean we have to become complacent. In fact, it might very well mean that there is a whole new world of possibilities on the horizon. But the only way to discover them is by stepping outside the norm and embracing the unknown.
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