The global pandemic of COVID-19 has had a wide-reaching impact since it first hit the headlines in late 2019. Here at eXPD8 we’ve had to make myriad changes to how we work and how we deliver our service to our clients in a very different working landscape. We’ve been discussing how this has affected our Entertainment Division; how we’ve adapted our ways of working, plus the challenges we’ve faced out in the retail sphere.
Firstly, what we actually do in the Entertainment Department
We manage film launches and promotions in physical retail space on behalf of our studio clients; which essentially involves liaising with our clients to ensure that their new releases and catalogue promotions are well planned and forecasted, and then delivered smoothly in-store. We give recommendations and advice based on our experience and compliance data, whether that’s regarding store bases for where display units should be sent, or where our merchandisers can most effectively support the set up of our clients’ campaigns.
How COVID has affected our team over the last few months
Initially we were very busy with activity, with a cluster of New Releases for our studio clients, plus there were a lot of new activities to support the grocers with during their very busy period at the start of lockdown. There have been a few hurdles to overcome in how we work during lockdown, to comply with social distancing measures and challenges in getting POS sited on the shop floor during this time. Working from home as a team has had it’s own challenges, but we’ve worked hard to maintain great communication within the team by having daily video meetings online and a shared work planner to help everyone stay organised and informed.
How COVID impacted our Clients
Our clients have been challenged with restrictions brought in by the retailers, with getting out of category POS approved and rolled out. They’ve also struggled with getting visibility on what’s going on in store with restricted access for any store visits that are auditing in nature.
What we’ve done differently to combat the challenges we have faced
We’ve been working closely with our retailer contacts to keep up with all the changes that were coming through with the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, as well as keeping up with updates in government advice, in order to deliver for our clients whilst keep our merchandisers safe. We had to amend some of our practices to avoid any unnecessary personal contact for our field team; like removing the need to have our merchandiser’s tablets signed by store managers, and we also made changes to help our managers in the field deal with sickness and with people shielding, such as sending POS direct-to-store rather than to our merchandisers houses.
What we’ve had to do differently as a team
Like most people up and down the country, we had to adjust pretty quickly to a very different working environment. Whilst we were still in the office we did an office-wide inventory of IT equipment to ensure everyone had what they would need to have a home set up, and right away we put in a team meeting for each morning to ensure everyone felt supported and informed, and we discuss workload and deadlines every day to make sure everyone’s to-do list is manageable. It’s important to understand the various challenges that a situation like this pandemic can bring and appreciate that it may affect different people in different ways. We’ve tried to pay full attention to the people in the team and hopefully notice if they’re having a bad day or struggling with something so we can offer them support, or just lend an ear!
How we foresee the future for the Entertainment team at eXPD8
2021 is going to be a pretty busy year with lots of titles due for release this year being delayed. The studios have been working much more closely together during this time; sharing information and updates to help support each other which is great and maybe something that will be reflected in how we structure our account teams in future, with working more collaboratively.
What we’ve learned
We’ve learned that strong communication is even more crucial than usual when working remotely, we found having regular video and phone calls helped to keep the team engaged and informed, and shared work planners have been essential. Many of us have found that’s it’s more challenging to keep a good work / life balance when working from home, and so it’s important to set boundaries such as always taking a proper lunch break, which will be good advice wherever we’re based!
Sarah Dyson & Suzanne Saville
eXPD8 Entertainment Team