How to work with clients during a pandemic

We talk to three creative agencies about delivering virtual pitches, winning new business and being a useful partner to brands in troubling times

For creative agencies, the coronavirus pandemic has upturned the usual approach to working with clients. Campaigns have been pulled or put on hold as brands shift their focus to surviving the next few months and agencies have been presented with a whole new set of business challenges to respond to. Interactions with clients have also changed, with in-person meetings and pitches replaced with video conferences, Hangouts and emails.

It might not be business as usual, but there is still work to be done – and over the past few weeks, agencies have been busy providing creative support to brands and adapting to a very different way of working.

Last week, Nick Ellis, creative partner and founder of London agency Halo, tweeted the news that his agency had won a new business pitch – its first to be delivered using Microsoft Teams in the midst of a global crisis.

We opened our pitch by talking about the fact that we were in a pandemic

While Halo is used to working with clients remotely – often working on projects in the US, Asia and Australia – the virtual pitch was a first. Ellis admits it was a challenge, but says success came down to careful planning and acknowledging the challenges of trying to plan for business growth at a time when normal life has been put on hold.

“We opened our pitch by talking about the fact that we were in a pandemic – although the pitch had been set just before lockdown, our first few slides were acknowledging the fact that lockdown changes everything, and the pandemic changes everything and actually, if we’re talking about long-term strategy, then we have to include the fact that life is not normal anymore,” he explains.

“One of the things the client liked about our work was the fact that we didn’t hold back on the fact that everything is different,” he adds. “We gave them a point of view on the long term effect [of the pandemic] on brands … and we made a point of getting a load of research so we could look at how consumers in their category are responding to the situation that we’re seeing now.”