Since the outbreak became public in late January, COVID-19 virus has affected every aspect of life in China, on both personal and professional levels. The commercial industry is no exception. With consumers housebound and many fearful of spending amid the economic uncertainty, the lifeblood that flows down throughout each layer of production has been affected. Meanwhile, the near total ban on shooting within Mainland China places limitations on possibilities open to creatives and production companies, and has clear knock-on effects for the post houses. But beyond the obvious disruption and challenges, are there opportunities to be found?
In this three-part series we talk to top figures of companies from each part of the production process – agencies, production houses and post houses – to see how this situation is affecting their businesses and how they are handling these exceptional circumstances.
For this second instalment, we spoke with management figures from three post houses in Shanghai. We are thankful to all of them for their thoughts, ideas and insights. During these challenging times we all need to share, exchange and support each other.
Q：How has the current situation affected your business? Do you receive boards to quote? Is anything confirmed? 目前情况对你们的业务有什么影响？你们有收到脚本任务吗?有什么是定下来的吗?
Lily Li, MPC：We lined up jobs before CNY, so we’re now playing catch up see the best we can do to deliver the jobs which are confirmed as early as possible. We received a few boards this and last week, so far, nothing confirmed yet. February will be a bad month as we only had our staff return at the end of the month. As post always happen at the end for advertising jobs, I think we will feel the business impact in the coming months.
Dennis Yeung, Craft Creations：The business is taking a huge hit right now. We are taking seriously on all the boards we received and carried out practical proposals according to the current situation. Overall, 50% of the business has been declined comparing to previous, while those with shooting-required TVC have been a huge loss. Almost 70% of the business (shooting-required) has been either suspended or canceled. Most CGI productions are in our line of business, and full CG TVC has a significant increase in this week, and we just confirm two full CG TVC in the last two days.
Craft Creations – RESCUE
Jeffrey Chow, Vision Shanghai：The present situation is bad: very few boards from agency & production and an 80% decrease compared to before the virus. Few projects are pending. The biggest impact is losing the Q1 sales.
Q：How are you coping? What solutions are you offering to clients? 你是如何应对的? 你为客户提供什么解决方案?
Jeffrey Chow, Vision Shanghai: We can work normally within our own operations. Nearly 100% of employees are back to work after 14 days indoor quarantine. The only thing is no business requests due to the fact that most clients are not back to work yet, and business is on hold.
Lily Li, MPC: There’s nothing I can do about the situation, so I just try as much as I can to stay calm and help and protect our staff. All of our clients are understanding. We provided revised schedules and they are all very supportive.
Dennis Yeung, Craft Creations: There are obvious limitations for us to push projects forward during the quarantine stage. As for internal management, I am devoted to figuring out ways to reboot and integrate our workflows and resources to get past and survive this “time gap”. We are increasingly using Cinesync for teleconferencing as the main source to reach out to our clients so they don’t need to come onsite; Shotgun and Nim-lab for project management; and we also provide remote grading and review rounds with those clients working at home. We are also making good use of our Hong Kong based branch and contracted artists to get more overseas clients to make up for the losses here in the Mainland.
Q：What is your overall feeling about current situation? 你对目前的情况总体感觉如何?
Lily Li, MPC：I am confident that China’s government will get this under control as soon as possible. However the panic will, unfortunately, remain virulent for a few more weeks.
MPC – latest CNY KFC
Dennis Yeung, Craft Creations：Mixed feelings, but I am confident we will weather the storm and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, we are not wasting any time. It is a good time for everyone to gather their thoughts and creativity, collecting ideas for the future. Also, we finally have a chance to rearrange everything in the company, like clean up the server, sort out the folder structures, reset the workflow systems, and reschedule the milestones.
Jeffrey Chow, Vision Shanghai：As the management, our first concern is how to survive during this hard time. We have do some quick restructuring internally in order to cope with the current situation and are preparing for the best when business is back. If it’s like the situation during SARS, it will go back to normal quickly after the virus. Most companies will need to review their cashflow. We have a healthy financial structure, so we are confident the business will get back to normal once the virus is gone. We pray for it everyday.
Q：How long do you think it will last and how will business be affected when it becomes active again? 你认为它会持续多久？当它再次活跃起来时，业务会受到什么影响?
Lily Li, MPC: Judging by the news and word from the authorities, it will be under control before the end of April. I see two challenges when we come back: we might have a few quite slow months as clients will shrink their budget for this year since nobody has had a great start beginning of the year. This will in turn increase our challenges of talent recruitment and retention.
Jeffrey Chow, Vision Shanghai: I think it will last until April in China, then business will activate again right after May’s long holidays. Again, this prediction is based on personal feeling and hope.
Vision – SHOWREEL
Dennis Yeung, Craft Creations: It may possibly last till July, I would say, but of course, I wish it would be shorter than that. Now the virus disease has been spread worldwide, we must be prepared for any consequences. We shall face the situation with growing confidence and preparation. The more prepared we are right now, the easier it will get later on.