This week, we spoke to some of Mischief’s Creative & Planning Team - Creative Director, Jack Hutchinson and Senior Strategist, Daniella Graham to understand how they've had to change their methods to plan and create attention seeking campaigns that get results. As well as touching on the challenges they’ve faced and overcome during lockdown.
How has Planning + Creative adapted during lockdown?
Daniella Graham (DG): The process itself hasn’t changed completely, but like everyone else we’ve had to move to having all of our conversations online. We’re still receiving briefs and tackling them in a similar way when it comes to unpicking the brief and establishing the best approach to answer it – but obviously our solutions are going to be different.
Jack Hutchinson (JH): Similarly, the creative process hasn’t necessarily changed, it has really been a case of adapting the way we communicate with one another as well as shifting the kinds of creative ideas we’ve been coming up with – both in terms of tone and channel
What has been the biggest challenge over the last few months?
DG: From a planning perspective, we’re normally in the business of trying to understand audience attitudes and behaviours to understand how best to talk to them. We’re still doing that, but now with an element of future gazing thrown in. I can’t think of a time where things have changed so rapidly – new behaviours were established so quickly early on that it was a challenge to keep up. We’ve had to react to changing circumstances, while attempting to predict where people will be in the coming weeks and months.
Early on there was a temptation to talk about ‘when we get back to normal’ as if we could just postpone everything to a future, as-yet-unspecified date, which is something we’ve had to challenge.
JH: Not all being in the same room initially took some adjustment as there’s nothing better than knocking ideas around face-to-face. On the flipside being able to have some headspace to yourself in quiet surroundings has been great, as has getting out for long walks (excellent thinking time) and I’ve been a big proponent of going old school with phones rather than too much Zoom!
What has been the most difficult part of working across Planning and Creative during the pandemic? How have you had to think differently to gain attention for clients when we’ve not been able to do events / shoots & large scale productions?
DG: It’s been difficult to have to discount certain routes and methods entirely, knowing that they won’t be available to us. We’ve had to think about what routes are available, and how best to make the most of those channels.
JH: The reduction in channels – specifically from the physical to the digital world – has been the biggest challenge but it does encourage you to work those digital-based ideas harder to cut through.
How do you ensure ideas cut through and don’t contribute to consumer fatigue?
DG: Part of audience mapping has been looking at what has resonated with consumers and what has become saturated. Early on everyone was moving their social interaction online – but then we got to the point where lots of people were feeling overwhelmed by days spent on virtual meetings and evenings spent bouncing from virtual quiz to virtual drinks. Strategically, it has been about looking and listening because things have become outdated quite quickly.
JH: The word I keep finding myself using is ‘epic’ – how do you make something feel epic in the digital / online space compared to seeing it play out in the physical world? That’s the big challenge. But it’s a good one because it means you have to think big too – bringing scale to an idea, making it still have a wow factor without being ‘out there’ IRL.
Are there new methods you have had to use during lockdown that you will continue to use?
DG: We created a new ‘attention appetite mapping’ model which has been a really helpful way of distilling insights about our target audience and looking at which types of messages they might be receptive to. It was created to help us establish what things clients could and should talk about, overlaying the changing attitudes and behaviours of target audiences, but it is something that we should always be considering. In some ways it has been a helpful reset, allowing us to look at each client and ask what their core purpose is, and what they have to offer their audiences.
JH: For me lockdown has really reinforced the importance of two (seemingly opposing) things – the need to still talk about ideas together (which has had to move from being in-person to on the phone or via Zoom) but also the need to sometimes get away from the office / working environment (both physically and mentally) to get into the right headspace for great ideas. These methods aren’t necessarily ‘new’ but they are ones we can all benefit from.