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Sustainability Marketing

It’s time for virtual production to light up APAC

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By Andy Edmonds, General manager

August 2, 2023 | 7 min read

Andy Edmonds, general manager of MSQ Studios Asia, wishes production sustainability was as high up the agenda in APAC as it is in the west. Perhaps it will be soon.

Earth

Sitting here in Singapore I watch as the west supercharges its drive towards sustainability, I hope that the momentum picks up across APAC soon. I see us faced with many unique challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities.

With vast markets, enviable locations, diverse cultures, and varying levels of environmental awareness, APAC has a crucial role in spearheading a more sustainable approach to content production.

A major reason for this is the scale and complexity of APAC markets. Draw a circle around ‘APAC’ and you’ll be surprised how small that circle is. Yet there are more people living inside of that circle than outside.

It’s complex, it’s tricky to navigate and it has a lot of ground to make up when it comes to sustainability.

But things are moving in the right direction – and that’s where our responsibility as a content industry comes in.

Content in APAC: more is more…

Our advertising industry is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and consumer behaviors. We have a huge array of touchpoints that are all different depending on where you are in the region – search alone brings you to Naiver in Korea, Baidu in China, Google in Singapore… and there are literally hundreds of channels and platforms across the region that brands have the opportunity to engage with their customer on, driving the demand for better content, at a faster and more efficient rate. It’s the age-old paradox better, faster, cheaper – but you need more of it too, and in different formats to be fit for channels.

With these ever-growing touchpoints and demands for content come the demands of the advertising teams and agencies to create more, more, more. Which means more ideas, more presentations, more briefs, and more shoots than ever before. And with more shoots comes more travel. And more travel means more carbon in the air.

I’m not about to get all preachy. I’m going to assume you already understand the need to cut carbon emissions. The need for a greener planet. And I also fully recognize the joy of being part of a TVC shoot. It’s long been one of my favorite parts of the job.

But we at MSQ also believe there’s a better way.

What if we don’t need to send a crew from Singapore to China to film that latest TVC? What if we can stop the agency and crew from flying from London to Bangkok for a three-day shoot?

If we stop this, we’re saving a significant carbon footprint. And there are other benefits too. How does it help the client’s budget? And how can we collectively re-invest that in making more? What if we’re using local talent that understands the complexities of where they are filming, the teams and talent they are working with? You get greater expertise, greater efficiencies and, hopefully, greater quality all around.

We’re on a mission for more for less, with sustainability at its core.

We’ve been asking these questions at MSQ a lot recently, and that’s why we’ve launched MSQ Source. We look to connect our in-house teams and our clients’ briefs with the best production, directing, creative writing, and creator talent in over 130 countries globally so that in the process of developing content we are using talent who is representative of the diverse cultures our clients are trying to connect with.

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New tech means we’re able to deliver that more culturally relevant content with the same rigor and quality as before, but faster, cheaper, but also crucially with fewer people and less travel, meaning a fraction of the carbon footprint too.

Working in APAC, being able to bring faster, better, cheaper, more sustainable and more culturally diverse content while also retaining the ethos of what’s made production a brilliant industry to work in is an exciting and genuinely achievable goal. And I feel it’s immeasurably enriching to extend our teams virtually to collaborate with a far more diverse pool than could ever be achieved from our international hubs alone.

The foundations are in place – but as we enter a brave new world, we need braver clients, creatives and teams to try a new and more sustainable approach to making their content. That will see them reap rewards way beyond an extra six-second cut down.

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