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Creating an effective ad during the lockdown

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

When the discussions began between Bustop, the creative agency in-charge, and Boubyan Bank, on the 10th of March, the excitement to film the Ad was overwhelming. Unfortunately, on the 12th of March, the Government of Kuwait initiated a partial curfew for the country, to contain and control the spread of the Coronavirus, which was already terrorizing nations across the globe. Countries were declaring lockdowns all over, airports began to shut down, borders were closing across the world, and we were all fighting an invisible enemy - the Coronavirus, the virus that shut down the entire world. When the final discussions took place, all the involved parties decided to not shoot an advertisement this year. With the partial curfew in place and the constant emphasis on social distancing, it was only sensible to ensure the safety of everybody involved.

With a number of offices closed and organizations maintaining social distancing to ensure the safety of their employees, we knew that creating an ad during the lockdown was going to be a task that would test our abilities and innovation. According to a CNN Business article, 'the coronavirus pandemic has brought the world's most prolific film industry to a halt. Movie theaters have shut their doors, production companies have called off shoots, and film studios have delayed releases'.

With Bustop, a creative agency that aims to create substance, and Cinemagic, where we aim to empower organizations to tell a better story, and an inter-organization collaboration that has celebrated the success of many advertisements and campaigns over the years, we were positive that a solution to would be found. One that would meet the standards of our client, and our respected organizational standards as well. The current issue people faced with the coronavirus made the initial script unrelatable for the community at a time like this. But there had to be something that could have been done. According to Business Insider, people are paying as much as 23% more attention to ads during the lockdown, and brands that stop advertising could be missing out. This meant that to give up on the entire idea of producing an ad was the equivalent of giving up - which none of us were willing to.

Of course, we had no plans to do such an ad. We were gonna do a traditional ad, we were gonna shoot something, get a crew, go abroad, we were gonna have this whole narrative - this whole story. But when the pandemic hit, it wasn't just the idea of not being able to physically do that, but also the idea that, "Is that the relevant piece of information to share today?", even though it was very touching, but it just felt like it was not the right time to talk about this. - Tarek Jamal, Head of Productions, Bustop

The CEO and Creative Director of Bustop, Mariam AlMutairi, came up with a different idea; what would become the script of the voiceover for the advertisement and with limitations in not being able to shoot due to the lockdown, an understanding grew among us that shooting an ad wouldn't be plausible. It was decided to use any footage that we could from the previous Ramadan advertisements that were shot for Boubyan Bank by Cinemagics for Bustop and test the waters with the concept. But was this idea even going to work?

Everyone was stuck at home, nobody's interested to be engaging with a lot of companies anymore. So we're doing this ad and we don't really know if people are going to relate to this. - Tarek Jamal

Over the years, Cinemagic has produced several impactful ads for Bustop, and when it came to Boubyan Bank, we had been in various collaborations for the past 8 years to create their Ramadan advertisements. This gave us access to a large database of footage that we could use to possibly recreate something and whatever was missing - we had an option of using stock footage. While most organizations at the time were creating ads using stock footage, it was understood that we wanted to create something that wouldn't be so generic in nature.

The main focus, by both parties - Cinemagic and Bustop, was to emphasize on the voiceover which was written by Mariam AlMutairi and voiced by Ali Najem. Because we had limitations to visually be able to create something new, we worked around by making sure that an impactful message was delivered through the use of voiceover.

Although we were happy with what we had done and we were happy with the ad, in our minds, it felt like, we're used to a whole proper production, we're used to 2 months of work and going abroad and doing this whole shoot, and so much effort is put into it in such a long time that we come back from those shoots with an expectation of a success. - Tarek Jamal

An extremely relatable emotion during the lockdown was written and expressed in the ad. Loved by many, the ad gained popularity suddenly and became viral. We witnessed the success of an impactful ad that was created under the worst circumstances the globe has ever seen.

It was definitely a shock to us when people started to really emotionally connect with the ad. - Tarek Jamal

This brings us to conclude, that at Cinemagic, we continuously improve and optimize the work environment to adapt to industrial changes and the biggest change that our industry is facing - is the continuation of workflow during the pandemic.

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