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This content was written by the advertiser and edited by BG BrandLab to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.

The virtual realities of advertising

How flexibility led to a creative growth spurt in the marketing industry

“You’re so creative.”

It’s a phrase copywriters, designers, and video editors are all too familiar hearing from those outside the advertising industry. While on the surface complimentary, it begs the question, what does creativity truly mean?

For many, creativity is quite simple; a combination of originality and imagination that can be used to make something new. But for creatives, it’s a necessary skill that needs to be shaped, stretched, and honed over time.

With a year like this past one, creativity was assumed to be stifled. Instead, it flourished. The need to pivot campaigns and shift work dynamics flexed an entirely new muscle for creatives, positioning advertisers with new ways to create and strike a balance in the industry.

Here’s how this came to life across the work, the play, and the in-between.

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Work

The year was 2019. Commutes were commonplace, “corona” was a beer best enjoyed with a lime wedge, and James Hough, group creative director at AMP Agency, embarked on a two-week journey around the world.

Four continents, 14 days, and nine flights later, Hough helped capture video content for the launch of a global tech company’s newest gaming platform.

“The goal of the shoot was to show that people, just like you and I, could easily connect with a global audience. Ironically getting to these streamers wasn’t that easy,” says Hough.

Fast forward to 2020, and a shoot for the next phase of the campaign was requested. This time around though, the challenge wasn’t the logistics of traveling to four small towns around the world, but instead shooting entirely remotely.

A woman's face in black and white on a computer screen, surrounded by graphicsCapturing campaign content for a global tech company’s gaming platform in 2019 vs. capturing campaign content for a global tech company’s gaming platform in 2020.

 

“At first, adjusting from traveling around the world with a camera crew to film gaming streamers through a webcam felt like a big step down. Maybe in some ways it still is. But, we found that we were able to capture an authentic side to people and footage that felt very raw and natural to how these creators present themselves to their fans. But that’s really what our job always has been as creative professionals – to be resourceful and transform whatever is available into something more,” says Eric Sutton, creative director, AMP Agency.

This shift in content creation is a prime example of how advertisers across the industry continue to meet the need to create remotely. For an instant noodle brand, this means leveraging cross-geography agency teams in Boston and LA, an illustrator in Japan, and animators in Argentina to bring a national commercial to life. For individual creatives, it means having the ability to move to Colorado while continuing to work with coworkers on the East Coast. For agencies as a whole, it means extending their skillsets and know-how to other agencies, sharing insights on ways they navigate unique work conditions.

For instance, when AMP Agency conducted a 10-person, COVID-19 compliant video shoot for a national CPG brand in April 2020, other agencies reached out to learn exactly how they made it happen. Not only did this help position advertisers to succeed in making content, but it sparked a cross-agency dialogue for creatives on new ways to ideate and execute campaigns.

 

Two people behind the camera at a video shoot, both are wearing masksImage Caption: V A G R A N T S production company filming content for a national CPG brand within COVID-19 safety guidelines in April 2020.

“This is the first time that the playing field has been leveled with other agencies. Big agencies, smaller agencies, mid-sized agencies like AMP, we’re all in the same place of figuring out ways to create the best content we can in uncharted territory,” says Kelly VanWart, senior video producer, AMP Agency.

With a newfound level of collaboration, agencies everywhere have gained the momentum to continue pushing good work forward and do what has never been done before. As advertisers look ahead to future campaigns, they can continue to rely on others in the industry and find solace in the fact that everyone is navigating the current advertising landscape together.

Play

Anyone who has experience in advertising or seen an episode of Mad Men knows that agency life isn’t solely grounded in pitches and reviews – it’s also about connecting as a team with conversation and the occasional libation. In line with pivoting work practices, this meant advertisers had to find ways to promote a positive company culture from a distance. So AMP Agency did.

A group standing beside a red brick wall, a few people sitting on the ground in front of them, one person wearing rollerskatesAMP Agency creative team posing for a photo in 2019.

Thursday happy hours held at the local meeting link have become a weekly tradition. Group chats dedicated to pets and plants have become agency staples. Keeping beach chairs in the trunks of cars has become common practice, should the opportunity to have a socially distant outdoor get-together ever present itself.

What does this mean for agencies everywhere? Along with expanding their professional capabilities, they should continue to establish connections between coworkers beyond the bounds of work meetings. Finding ways to connect and let off steam can translate into a clear work mindset and fuel creativity, setting the stage for greater collaboration within the workspace and beyond.

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The in-between

On Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 4:45pm, AMP Agency’s creative team gathered for an in-house awards show. Affectionately known as the AMPYs, this event was planned and executed by Nicholas Scrima, Content Creator at AMP Agency. Complete with colorful animations and a live stream, the AMPYs paid homage to the year’s smallest wins and biggest heartbreaks, with awards ranging from “Best Work From Home Setup” and “Best Dog” to “Person Who Kept Their Sh*t Together The Longest.”

 

A colorful graphic that reads "2020 ampy"Intro design to the inaugural AMPY awards at AMP Agency.

 

“I’m a big believer that it’s important to make work as fun as possible. I’ve worked a lot of jobs where the best part of the job is the people and the camaraderie you form with them. So that’s where the AMPYs were born,” says Nicholas Scrima, content creator, AMP Agency.

This mindset is the key to prioritizing balance in an ever-changing industry. As agencies adopt new ways of working and thinking, creatives can continue to become more well-rounded and collaborative, pushing advertising forward as a whole.

How can advertisers build off of this momentum for years to come? By maintaining their willingness to adapt and remaining flexible in work, play, and the in-between. Doing so will continue to stretch creative muscles in new ways, positioning advertisers for further growth as a result of any industry-changing disruptions that come next.

If this sounds like the industry for you, reach out to AMP Agency about current openings or general interest. As they say – the best way to find an opportunity for yourself is to create one.

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This content was written by the advertiser and edited by BG BrandLab to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.

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