Business As Unusual: Adapting Creative To The New Normal.

June 1, 2020

UPD BSMNT article header image

Indiana’s Unclaimed Property Division had committed a great deal of time and money to a new campaign designed to create awareness of and qualified traffic to its site. The need to return property and funds to Indiana’s citizens didn’t stop, even with the pandemic.  The Basement’s rapid reworking of its television and digital campaign for shows just how resilient a team can be, even in the face of tough times.


The Campaign is an initiative by the State of Indiana’s Unclaimed Property Division to return money and property to its rightful owners.  The Basement’s “It Might Not Change Your Life, But It Just Might Change Your Day” campaign was evolving in 2020 to provide fun, relatable, realistic scenarios in which these newly discovered funds could be readily put to use in one’s everyday life.  


You might not jet off to Paris, but you could enjoy a night out at your favorite French bistro. You might not steal away to an island retreat, but you could certainly enjoy a quick 18 holes at your favorite golf course. The key was an honest representation of the benefits that made it “worth a look” to check out Until, of course, going to one’s favorite restaurant or golf course were no longer in the cards, for obvious reasons.



“We were very pleased with how quickly our teams adapted to such a volatile situation,” says The Basement CEO Brian Phillips. “We were able to efficiently and effectively rework our creative to tell their story in a way that was respectful of what everyone is going through.”


The Pivot

The Basement is currently working on campaigns for clients we’ve not actually met in person. Such are the challenges posed by the current situation. While developing creative under these kinds of conditions is not ideal, we already had the systems and processes in place to be able to collaborate and work remotely, even before the onset of the virus and its mitigation. And we’d already developed the creative using animation instead of live action, since the concept itself required us to showcase so many different people in such a wide range of scenarios. Animation simply made sense from a storytelling, production and budget perspective.


TV Spot Structure Chart


“Modularity was built into the concept and production from the beginning.” says Uriaha Foust, Creative Director. “This made it easier for us to turn on a dime when we needed to make some changes. Effectively, each spot plays out in 5 parts. An intro, our character finding out they have money, a somewhat nonsensical dream sequence, and then a snap back to reality that leads into a jingle and then a call to action to search for yourself. The intent all along has been to preserve the book ends of the spot and create fun and engaging new stories in the middle. Over and over. The scenarios are endless. And that’s our approach. Is it repeatable? Yes. Can we version it to engage all of our demographics? Yes. Can we test it? Of course, don’t be silly.”


“In this particular case, we really only needed to reposition the ‘back to reality’ moment. To the BSMNT and our client this was a perfect opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist that the pandemic has created. We all can relate to that not-quite-the-same feeling of a 4-star meal from a cardboard box. Or how suddenly so many have become the outdoorsy type with trails and parks being one of our only escapes. The key here is that the tone and whimsy of the overarching idea allowed those moments to be positive as if to say, ‘Chin up. Treat yourself.’ A message that is genuinely on brand.”

Set Up For Success.

The only “out of the ordinary” measure we had to take throughout the entire process re-relaunching the revised campaign was to provide a faster computer for our in-house animator to work with from home. While file transfers took a little longer than usual given network limitations, we were still able to conceive, develop, board, remotely record and produce new spots – with new creative scenarios – in a little under two weeks.


Remote collaboration technologies like our G-Suite integration, our in-house animation/production capabilities and a culture of collaboration made it possible to get the work done without missing a beat. The key was having all of this already established as part of an agency framework and culture, in place since day one, that allows us to be nimble and responsive. To us, it is what being a full-service agency is all about.


“Planning for contingencies is a regular part of our process as there are often unexpected external events,” said Todd Bolster, vice president of client services at The Basement.  “Admittedly, our plans for 2020 didn’t include pivoting to the realities of a global pandemic, but our groundwork allowed us to adapt.”  


Been There, Done That.

That we were able to deliver for under trying circumstances isn’t as much the point as the fact we were prepared to meet those kinds of challenges long before COVID-19 came to our shores. 


There are countless stories of clients and agencies moving heaven and earth to overcome very similar challenges. The core of our story is that we didn’t have to. Our integrated model, our roots as a production company (and having in-house production capabilities to begin with), having systems in place to deliver effectively and efficiently – these put us in a position to be successful. Combine that with nimble, responsive and smart client partners and you have what it takes to address what would normally be ordinary concerns if it wasn’t for the extraordinary times we’re in.


Todd Bolster
Todd Bolster
VP, Account Services
George Evans
George Evans
Uriaha Foust
Uriaha Foust
Creative Director
Brian Phillips
Brian Phillips