How Slack Produced Its Latest TV Spot Remotely

Slack, which has become an increasingly relevant way for colleagues to communicate while working remotely, wanted to release a branding message as use of its product surges during the pandemic.

But like other brands in market right now, it had to create that message while physical production is on pause. So Slack’s marketing team set out to cast, film and produce a commercial completely over remote working tools, said Jamie Ehrhart, director of global brand marketing at Slack.

“We [wanted] to bring to light the realities from working from home and showcase how our product is being used,” she said.

The company cast non-actors for the spot to “capture vignettes of real people working from home in Slack,” Ehrhart said. Auditions included home tours over Zoom, and people filmed footage of themselves working from home over their webcams with direction from Slack’s production team. For trickier shots, Slack hired photography directors to film their own homes and families.

Shooting took two days from homes across the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago and Virginia.

“One recording was happening in LA, and within five minutes, we were in someone else’s home in Chicago,” Ehrhart said. “It allowed us to move to locations across the United States virtually.”

The workflow for the commercial was handled, of course, in Slack. The company created two channels, or group message threads, to manage internal teams and external partners. Slack filmed the entire campaign over Zoom, leveraging breakout rooms to manage the process.

“We had one room for the director to give guidance to people filming,” Ehrhart said. “Another room was for our creative team to watch the production, and another room allowed us to view what was being recorded.”

The spot took just three-and-a-half weeks to produce from top to bottom. Slack always moves fast on marketing campaigns, but the commercial was much quicker to produce without the inefficiencies of travel time and location scouting, Ehrhart said. “It gave us a lot of variety to select talent from all over the United States, which we wouldn’t have been able to do shooting in one location,” Ehrhart said.

The spot, which launched over Memorial Day weekend during TNT’s “The Match” charity golf tournament, is now running exclusively on CTV and online video through June. Slack moved spend out of physical media such as out of home and into CTV, digital news and social platforms where its audience is spending more time.

“[These channels] allow us to target our audience closely to know who we’re reaching to have an efficient media plan,” Ehrhart said.

In response to ongoing protests against police brutality and racial inequality across the United States, Slack paused the campaign on social in early June and, like many brands, is keeping a close eye on the tone of its messaging going forward.

“We want to lead with awareness and empathy,” Ehrhart said. “We want to make sure [our message] continues to stay relevant, and we’ll make adjustments as we go.”

In addition to maintaining brand awareness, Slack is developing tools and resources for people to better manage working remotely, and it is offering the standard version of its platform to nonprofits for free. In April, the company ran a PSA on linear TV about its program to offer free upgrades to paid plans for frontline workers.

“Our audience is anyone who would benefit from working collaboratively with a team,” Ehrhart said. “That includes frontline workers, office workers, educators and more.”

As Slack’s marketing team keeps on messaging through these times of chaos and uncertainty, it will continue to lean into the efficiencies of remote production – even after lockdowns lift.

“We found it to be extremely effective and efficient,” Ehrhart said, “and we’re wondering how we can make it more efficient next time.”

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