The key aim is creating and maintaining the audience connection

Andrew Smith, Creative Director, A-Vision (UK)
Vice Chairmen EVCOM

IN DECEMBER 2015 LIVE MAGAZINE BECAME AN OFFICIAL PARTNER WITH THE LARGEST UK BUSINESS INSTITUTION FOR LIVE COM PROFESSIONALS — EVCOM. Created from two highly successful associations — EVENTIA representing the live event world, and IVCA representing the visual communication sector; EVCOM is comprised of a wide variety of leading professionals, agencies, freelancers, destinations, production companies and suppliers — all working at the highest levels throughout the events and visual communication sector. 

About EVCOM

What are the main benefits EVCOM offers? 

There are two types of client commissioners. For a film and video company a client commisioner could be anything from a live event to a digital company. What we see is that it’s very difficult for the clients’ commissioners to work now. Seven years ago, when someone was in charge of communications or marketing they might only need to know how to make a film, how to manage their website, live events etc. Now there are about 25 or 30 different disciplines that the client needs to understand — social, virtual, all sorts of different things. I don’t believe that anyone could become brilliant at 30 things! I see the real desire from the client to come to an organization like EVCOM because we have the best-in-breed in all those disciplines. 

How do you see your role within the association in the future?

First of all, this is a fantastic industry for me, I have a great life and I’ve met lots of great people. Being on Board is about connecting companies with whatever they need. Whether it be promotion, legal questions, regulations — and we really need connections there — it’s very pleasant to work that way. We are not representing the people that work in the digital space and social digital web world so one of the key things that I want to do during my time as vice-chair and than chair is to connect more with digital companies. We all need to work with each other and stay connected.

It is an official position with specific administrative responsibilities. Do you think that administrative work can kill creativity?

My EVCOM role is strategic but there are some creative elements as well — I masterminded our website and developed the ways we communicate with our members. But mostly it is about more strategic things ­— to track how the industry moves in order to better understand how to represent companies. I would like to see that I have an effect on the industry body, and it’s about creating exact purposes in different fields. We’ve got some incredible talent and incredible members out there. People want to do good things and get a lot of work, so I am trying to facilitate that. What I can do is help people understand what we do - and we are doing incredible work!

People want to do good things! 

Andrew Smith

About Video Production 

Why has video content become more popular in brand marketing in recent years?

The point of entry for making a film is now considerably cheaper than it was 6-7 years ago and that is largely because of technological improvements. The other reason why it’s more popular is because videos are watched more, and obviously the more videos are  played and watched, the more effective they become. Certainly, I would say that the reason why more and more brand marketers are using video is because people are now expecting to see video on their web content, and if video is not there, people will switch it off quite quickly. There are so many successful cases of using video as a medium. 

What role does it play at events? What is its main purpose?

Video can play a very big role in engaging an audience. It’s about creating and maintaining an audience connection. We have noticed at live events that the effect really depends on how screens are being used. For one eBay live event in a huge arena in Las Vegas last year we used the biggest screen for our client — it was almost falling over, but it did attract attention and played its role well. At live events videos serve many purposes — you can get information quickly in a professional way, and you can get emotions across which sometimes is not possible using other formats. It plays a great storytelling role and it can also act as a point of attraction.  

We have had some clients from America and it's believed that they have a "global" way of communicating which usually isn't the case. Usually they tend to shout very loud and talk more about themselves and it doesn't really connect with the European traditions — we are more social about connecting.

Andrew Smith

Video production is still an expensive industry - would you say that to make a good video you should pay a lot of money as a rule?

Well, it might be easy to come and say so to a client, but I believe that it really comes down to the idea. Clearly if you have a good relationship with a client and a very clear brief, then video can work very effectively. I don’t think it has to have large sums of money behind it - it just has to have a good idea behind it. Sometimes what can happen nowadays is that a lot of things are very rushed and don’t really fit in with the content of the marketing strategy. So we have started talking to clients using terms like screen content marketing strategy — which is kind of a new way of speaking to clients, and I see that it’s very welcomed. Some things that we started to realize when we produced a video for a client is that it may be used in different sorts and formats. Video can be implemented in a full range of formats that attract you into taking some action — such as a pay wall, or point of purchase or something like that. So I suppose that the clients should be thinking about using videos in a much more integrative way. 

You seem to be at the forefront of new screen imaging formats: A-Vision has outstanding examples of commercials, virals, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality), Projection Mapping and 360º videos. Do you think that all modern companies should try these cutting-edge formats to be different and innovative or should they only be used for a certain purpose? 

There is no definitive answer I can give you but I can discuss the topic in terms of trends. Eight years ago we were the first company in the UK to have an Augmented Reality license and at that time you needed a licence to use the software that now is mostly free to use. We set up a separate company to deal only with Augmented Reality while the main company produced the films and videos. What we found some years ago was that clients get very confused if you start talking to them about AR when they wanted a film.

But that has changed, and now we have set up A-Vision to be a company that simply does content to screen. We work with different technologies, we produce TV-ads, content for live events, ARs and VRs. And for it all to work it needs to be compatible with the client’s brief. People want to make an impact, they want to make a punch! What we can offer them is a variety of ways of using a screen in order to make that punch, in order to be different, in order to engage with an audience. And it’s not always necessary that a film will be the right thing to do or AR will be the right thing to do. But offering it to a client and seeing if it can be a good option really works for us. What you can do is come to the point with a lot of measurements and understand what the return on investment will be and how many people will be connected. 


About Clients’ brief

What is more important for you when creating a new video: to be innovative in terms of video technologies or to match the client’s brief? How do you find a balance between creativity and utility? 

It very straightforward for us - to always match the brief. If we don’t, the client won’t work with us again because we haven’t done our work properly. The brief is always the number one thing. And what you are able to do when you are answering the brief is to offer up suggestions on how you can do things in a slightly different way which can be beneficial. We also can demonstrate to the client how our competitors have recently worked in the same direction and how we can do our work differently in order to make a greater impact ­— but it all comes back to answering the client’s brief.

How do you usually work with your clients? Do you cooperate at every stage of video production or just get the brief and present the final concept? 

Projects and clients differ. We have clients who range from people we have never met to those with whom we have a very close working relationship. This does not always depend on the client, on how busy that client is at the moment, or on where the client is located etc. But we enjoy this difference! It’s important and helps keep our ideas fresh.

Then how do you work with local brands that try to go global and want to use video for this aim?

I think it depends on where the idea primarily comes from. Most global brands will have an agency involved - not necessarily an advertising agency, it can be a branding agency as well - that has a forward lead from a communications point of view. We have had some clients from America and it’s believed that they have a “global” way of communicating which usually isn’t the case. Usually they tend to shout very loud and talk more about themselves and it doesn’t really connect with the European traditions — we are more social about connecting. If we have a campaign or a video production time which has a schedule of, let’s say three months, what we tend to do is to use at least half of this time to develop relationships and make sure that what we are about to produce is correct. We tend to compromise our production schedule  in order to get it right because when you’ve already started to spend money, it’s very expensive to change it. And moreover it is usually not very popular with the client (laughing). 

One of the latest trends in video content is the shortening of video formats: brands try to adapt their commercials for Instagram 15 second videos and very short Vine and Coub formats. Do you think it is the right direction for video marketing development? 

I think what’s happening in the market is that people are consuming video regardless of what it is. However, when we look at these 6 second clips such as vines — there is so little you can do with it; it’s like candy in order to attract you to something else.

I tend to feel that it’s starting to go away, I haven’t seen a lot of examples of this being used in a successful way. When video is used within this medium, something creative is not behind it, you get lots of bad practice and it tends to fall quite quickly.

You know, we’ve seen some great examples of outdoor digital advertising, but then the budgets were cut and what we see now is more like posters that move. I feel the same about these short videos - they are graphics that move and attract you to something else. If it’s substantial it should work - if not, then people will just switch it off. 

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