5 Reasons To Use Animation For Promotion During Lockdown

5 Reasons To Use Animation For Promotion During Lockdown

Yes, 2020 has turned out to be a bizarre year indeed. COVID times are upon us, and whether we like it or not many industries are being strongly affected by social distancing restrictions, lockdown procedures, and quarantine. For brands looking to promote during these times, it can be hard to know where to turn, how to get content produced when filming is shut down, or whether you should stop advertising altogether until the inevitable post-COVID recession passes. (Hint: you should not. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2019/09/05/when-a-recession-comes-dont-stop-advertising/#50ba82164608).

Luckily, the animation industry is proving to be an absolute powerhouse when it comes to promoting during the lockdown era. Today we’re taking a look at just a few reasons why animation has the potential to solve the production problems facing the socially distanced industry.

1) Animation is largely lockdown-proof

You may have noticed that social distancing has caused the live-action film and television industry to all but grind to a halt. While some magazine-style shows (like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: http://www.cc.com/shows/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah) are able to cut together host’s home-recorded videos as content, most high budget, scripted, and reality productions are finding themselves unable to get off the ground without breaking social distancing guidelines for their cast and crew. What’s more, networks are far more hesitant to greenlight new live-action productions as there’s no clear idea when and if they’ll be able to shoot normally again.

But amongst all this, one sector of production is proving more than resilient. Animation, which requires far less in-person contact than live-action, has quickly become the go-to medium for producing entertainment and advertising. Through the ups and downs of social distancing and quarantine-ing, most animation studios have been able to stay stronger than ever, many sending their workers home with equipment and running at near-normal efficiency. Being a technology-based industry with technology-savvy digital artists only helps matters when a new (or for many freelancing animators, normal) work from home situation means adjusting to remote networking technologies. In times of lockdown, animation is turning out to be a surprisingly stable option for a range of video production needs.

2) In tough times reality can be too real

In difficult, tragic, and downright strange times, reality can feel like a little bit much. Many people looking for relief from the depressing news of the day can be put off by content that hits a little too close to home. This can be a tough hurdle for brands and advertisers to jump, as promotion often involves showing real people trying to make an emotional connection with the viewer. Animation functions as an effective communicator for promotors during tough times because it places a layer of artistic fantasy in between the viewer and the advertiser. For example, Dr Dana Ross uses animated videos as her go-to method for creating COVID-related online resources at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. In her words, animation allows for approaching “serious topics with a touch of lightness” (http://newsroom.royalcollege.ca/using-animation-to-connect-during-covid-19/).

Furthermore, while live-action relies on actors who are part of specific demographics (inherently alienating viewers who don’t fit those demographics), simplified animated characters can be designed to represent almost anyone without exclusion, potentially making for an easier emotional connection to the content. Animated video content thereby provides a special kind of comfort for the viewer in times when many people are feeling confined and helpless, because anything can be achieved by just about anyone.

3) Virtual collaboration is easier with people who understand storyboarding

Now more than ever storyboards are a crucial step in making sure you’re getting the promotional video you want. In times when face to face meetings aren’t ideally advised, virtual collaboration has become the norm and it can be easy to feel intimidated at the prospect of hiring a production house to create your promotional content for the first time. Whether you have a clear idea of your video script in mind or not, you’re probably wondering how the project will go from an idea to a fully-fledged video, and how much involvement you’ll have in the visuals. That’s where storyboards come in. Storyboards are a quick way to give a shot-by-shot visual sketch of the video, allowing all sides of production to “pre-visualise” the script for approval before moving onto production. Animators are especially familiar with the ins and outs of creating clear, effective storyboards because the storyboarding process is a vital part in the early stages of the animation process, being first refined at Disney in the 1930s.

4) More flexibility to adjust campaigns

Given we don’t know how long quarantine procedures will need to continue for, it’s wise to invest in promotion that will still be around in a few months if you need changes. Live-action, which requires a lot of in-person team collaboration, is a volatile medium to rely on during times of lockdown. Digital animation remains editable down the line and doesn’t require regrouping people to reshoot.

The big advantage of this edit-ability for promoting a brand is that it allows for dynamic changes in longer-term advertising campaigns. While animation can be a labor-intensive medium, subtle changes can be made to digital character rigs, backgrounds, and text far more easily than recasting and reshooting an entire video.

5) It’s a good time to welcome the long-term trend of using animation for promotion

If you’re considering turning to animation for promotion during the lockdown era you may not be aware of all the benefits animation has to offer in the world of online marketing. Digital animation has the quite magical capacity to both simplify and enliven an otherwise complex or visually uninteresting message. It can wield both a natural level of playfulness due to the vast possibilities of art styles and a strong sense of focus due to the fore planning that must go into the design and storyboarding. The ongoing restrictions on live-action recording mean it’s as good a time as any to dip your toes in the water to see what the format can do for your brand.

Written by Maree Railton.

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