Pingdemic plunges adland into most 'difficult period'

Ad production: the industry has been hit by the pingdemic (credit: Getty)
Ad production: the industry has been hit by the pingdemic (credit: Getty)

Steve Davies of the Advertising Producers Association says the production industry is 'probably in the most difficult period' in terms of pandemic-relation disruption.

The large number of Covid cases in the UK and so-called "pingdemic" of isolation instructions have hit the advertising industry in recent weeks.

There have been many headlines on the crippling impact of the recent spike in Covid cases on essential public services and the food chain but the advertising industry has also been grappling with the problem. 

It is understood that what one source described as “loads of issues” on ad shoots were discussed at an IPA Production Group meeting last Thursday. The IPA reminded agencies to continue to follow the Advertising Producers Association Covid-19 guidelines. 

Steve Davies, chief executive of the APA, said: “Production as a whole has been a triumph of overcoming obstacles [during the pandemic]. But we are probably in the most difficult part of the pandemic in terms of disruption. The overriding thing is to keep the production going.

“Clients are very understanding to the reality if someone needs to be replaced but they don’t want to have wasted their money [if the production cannot be completed].”

More productions are affected by either a Covid case or an isolation instruction than not, Davies said. The challenge of finding talent is exacerbated by the fact that Netflix and Apple are both shooting content for their streaming platforms in the UK.

“Whereas once you only had to make one phone call to find a replacement, now it takes 30,” Davies said.

Advertising production shut down completely in the first lockdown but has continued through the subsequent restrictions since restarting in July 2020. The uncertainty around international travel has put further demand on UK-based talent as clients decide shooting abroad is not worth the risk. 

"COVID has put an incredible amount of extra strain on production. Health and safety must be the absolute top priority. At Ogilvy and Hogarth, we carefully follow the industry processes, as brilliantly developed by the APA (Advertising Producers Association). In all our recent productions, we’ve only caught a very small number of cases (three or four) and all of them before the shoot itself — whether they were direct cases or people who’d been pinged. That's why we must have a replacement for each member of the shoot, from crew to talent. And all our productions have medics on set, checking everyone’s temperature on arrival.

And we continue to learn as we go – the one thing we all know about this pandemic is we need to be agile and adapt to new situations. "

Andre Laurentino, chief creative officer at Ogilvy UK, said: "Covid has put an incredible amount of extra strain on production. Health and safety must be the absolute top priority. At Ogilvy and Hogarth, we carefully follow the industry processes, as brilliantly developed by the APA.

"In all our recent productions, we’ve only caught a very small number of cases (three or four) and all of them before the shoot itself – whether they were direct cases or people who’d been pinged.

"That's why we must have a replacement for each member of the shoot, from crew to talent. And all our productions have medics on set, checking everyone’s temperature on arrival.

"And we continue to learn as we go – the one thing we all know about this pandemic is we need to be agile and adapt to new situations."

Ribena’s advertising pitch is also understood to have switched to more virtual sessions – from in-person meetings – after Covid and Covid-related isolation requirements hit the agencies involved.

Helen Passard, head of Ribena, said: “We’re running this pitch process at a time where Covid-19 is still very much present in the UK and so had always planned for pitches to be a mix of in-person and virtual meetings.

“This shift to a hybrid set-up hasn’t been problematic at all and the phenomenal agencies we’ve met with have been practical, agile and supportive as we work through the challenges together.

“We’re really happy with the process and feel strongly that we’ve the right platform to select the very best agency.”

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.com , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber

GET YOUR CAMPAIGN DAILY FIX

Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free