For this year's annual issue, Aurora polled various Pakistani leading agency and corporate heads about the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and work practices. Here's what they had to say in response to the following questions:
1 In which three major ways was your agency/organisation impacted by Covid-19 in terms of day-to-day functions (for example, WFH, downsizing, outsourcing, others)?
2 Which of these ways do you foresee as lasting after the pandemic is over?
3 How has the agency-client relationship changed due to Covid-19?
Syed Zaheeruddin Ahmed, Film Director and COO, ID Creations
1 WFH. Calculated downsizing (sensitive and tough but necessary). Better use of time.
2 The pandemic has changed the dynamics of productivity versus time spent in a more effective way. Less time, more work. People were able to design their hours between work and personal lives, which leads to a healthy balance and gives a sense of their individual empowerment.
3 We were not affected by the fact that meetings happen mostly online. However, the economic impact has resulted in reduced work and budget cuts, which is creating a dangerous culture of lesser quality.
Usman Attique Butt, CEO, Interlink Advertising
1 We have to learn to live with Covid-19. It was tough to let people go. Our offices in Lahore and Islamabad were shut down by the authorities. But every crisis is an opportunity; you only need to see the positive side of it.
2 A financial downturn can affect agencies in waves, so if you are not impacted in the first wave, it may come later – especially if it impacts the economy for more than six months. Stay focused on what you are doing, watch costs and adapt as the market requires. Reduce costs by bringing work in-house. Present new services to clients. Reach out to new clients and industries.
3 We provide services to banking and public sector clients mainly. Both were hit by a brick in their head; however, they remained functional and their demand for Covid-19 content escalated. As we had to close our offices for two months, we operated from a co-sharing workspace to deliver all jobs. Zoom meetings helped keep clients closer to the agency.
Syed Amir Haleem, CEO, Kueball
1 Our digital agency became more digital. WFH forced us to explore virtual, cloud-based ways to collaborate. Although we did not downsize, we handled recent expansion by outsourcing freelancers.
2 WFH will continue; 50% of the team need only be in the office once a week. We have fine-tuned this and it has worked for our business model, reducing space, overheads and transport expenses.
3 The relationship has strengthened as more clients rely on digital to amplify the brand message. Audiences started consuming more digital content, triggering a readjustment to media budgets in favour of digital. In some cases, we experienced a growth of five to 25% of overall budgets. I foresee agency retainers adjusted to account for this increased activity in 2021.
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