Ready to step outside

For those in brand building, a new chapter is about to begin, says Bloomberg Media's Arif Durrani

The sun is shining, life is returning to our streets and, for those in the business of brand building, a new chapter is about to begin, says Arif Durrani.

As we prepare to get back to some normality after three difficult months, the ability to launch new products and tell stories has never been far from our thoughts at Bloomberg Media.

Last month, we defied the odds to launch a magazine in the middle of the pandemic for Bloomberg Green. The new print product is part of the cross-platform proposition dedicated to climate change created in January. It’s a testament to the power of the printed word that a tangible magazine is the latest addition to the mix. Launch advertisers included Amazon, HP Inc., Iberdrola, JLL, Morgan Stanley and The Paper and Packaging Board.

Elsewhere, as cities around the world emerge from coronavirus lockdowns, the way people use parks, shops, restaurants, public transport and even homes has changed. Bloomberg is set to chronicle how the most innovative cities and communities are preparing for this shift and the challenges they face as part of the recently acquired Bloomberg CityLab, revealed last week.

Providing creative solutions

Meanwhile, at Bloomberg Media Studios, like many agencies and content producers, we’ve spent the Covid-19 crisis trying to provide strategic advice to clients, conduct interviews and meet filming requirements while navigating lockdowns and, at times, energy-sapping anxiety.

It’s been a mixed bag. In some cases in-person interviews have been replaced with animations, elsewhere we’ve sent sterilised production kits along with camera and lighting instructions to enable us to conduct virtual interviews.

Like an ominous cloud, we did see it coming. First the outbreak impacted our brand filming in Asia. Restrictions on international and domestic travel, as well as gatherings of more than a few people, meant we had to postpone shoots with business innovators for AXA IM in Hong Kong. By March we were having to be resourceful just to finish post-production.

Our Studios team produced the third series of Art + Technology with Hyundai Motors in isolation, with contributing artists and experts recording themselves using iPhones.

Production quality might not be as high or the sound quite so crisp compared to a regular shoot, but it did provide a workable solution.

As Yuko Tsukada, APAC Creative Director, Bloomberg Media Studios, says: “Shooting videos entirely on iPhones is not the complete solution to all our challenges, but it worked this time and kept us on track. Going forward, it’ll certainly make us think carefully about how much we need to scale production crews in the future, at least in the near term.”

Keeping global trade moving

In Europe, one partner that has played a vital role during the pandemic is Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk. The company is responsible for one in every five containers shipped around the world and has been relied upon for everything from clothes and computers to food and medical supplies.

Maersk’s business has been volatile as orders from many retailers and automotive companies ground to halt, while others—like Amazon and the major supermarkets—needed more services and faster deliveries.

Having made upgrades to its own apps, including booking and tracking capabilities, Maersk has been able to keep goods moving, safely and reliably, despite global supply chains facing their biggest stress tests since the Second World War.

To communicate Maersk’s position and capabilities we established a virtual production and interviewed Vincent Clerc, CEO of Ocean & Logistics at Maersk, in which he shares advice for all international businesses to avoid further disruptions in the future.

Launching a global series

Another production we’ve managed to fulfil in London during the lockdown features the story of soda ash, one of the world’s most popular commodities most of us know little about.

Making its debut on Bloomberg TV this week, From the Ground Up presented by Selina Downes, is a three part series made against the odds. We travelled more than 13,000 miles before the pandemic struck, shooting in Europe, Asia and the US. Interviews include scenes from drones 100 feet above the Bosphorous Strait in Istanbul to 800 feet below the Green River Basin in Wyoming. The goal was to breathe life into an admittedly nondescript white powder that underpins much of today’s world.

For those who don’t know, soda ash is used to manufacture the glass in our buildings and the bottles on our dining tables. It helps to keep our houses clean and animals fed, and is used in the batteries that power today’s electric vehicles.

With no other agency in the mix, Bloomberg Media helped WE Soda to devise a holistic marketing strategy. Our proprietary AI-powered tool AiQ, coupled with sector insights from Bloomberg Intelligence analysts, identified the size and scope of the commodity’s marketplace, before mapping a path on how best to position the environmentally-aware, sustainable young company within it.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be rolling out a fully integrated ad campaign that will work in conjunction with the paid for TV series to target business decision makers and potential investors online on TV, across the Bloomberg Terminal and on social channels.

Such content-led awareness campaigns are known to perform well across our portfolio. We conduct quantitative and qualitative research with DVJ Insights to measure the success our partnerships have in building brands and shifting specific perceptions against industry and internal benchmarks.

In the months ahead, the case for brands to continue to invest in such long-form content that informs and educates will need to be made loud and clear as marketing budgets come under scrutiny.

The work of Peter Field and Les Binet through the IPA has highlighted the tendency for marketers to think short-term after a recession, to the detriment of brand building. Yet, as Field notes, while the characteristics of this Covid-19 recession differs to others, the strongly grounded arguments in favour of continued brand investment remain as powerful as ever.

Arif Durrani is Executive Editor at Bloomberg Media Studios, EMEA

Twitter: @DurraniMix


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