Some experiences are simply made for the physical world, with people sitting right beside us, bright lights moving across the crowd and big, flashy buttons to push. Those are the kinds of immersive, multimedia experiences BLVD creates for the likes of Céline Dion and the Montréal Canadiens, and they bring those same layers and textures to their advertising work. But of course, those kinds of ambitious undertakings rely on a whole range of sophisticated experts, devices, and technologies to bring them to life – so what happens when your access to that equipment is cut off? That’s a question the entire audiovisual industry has been grappling with ever since the rise of COVID-19, and BLVD is no exception. So when the pandemic forced them to close up shop and go remote, CEO Andres Norambuena went looking for some answers.
There’s no sugarcoating it: the initial waves of the shutdown were tough. Their work docket emptied out overnight, they had to lay off nearly all of their employees to stay afloat, and no one seemed to know what would come next. But before he could start looking for solutions, Andres had to first be honest with himself and his team.
“We all have an ego. We want things to look good all of the time, to seem like we’re on top of our game. But I kind of went in the opposite direction. Leave your ego aside. Face what’s happening and grab it by the horns.”
Next, he turned to his community and organized a meeting with the APP – or Association des producteurs publicitaires – to get a sense of how the rest of the industry was coping and adapting. He also asked his employees to pitch in by finding remote solutions that would allow them to keep creating from home. But of course, those new home studios would need equipment to get started, so Andres rented a truck, roped in a few teenagers, and delivered chairs, speakers, screens, and more, directly to his employees’ front doors. Quickly, a silver lining emerged: they could still safely produce audio and animation, and were able to secure that source of income within weeks.
Today, the company is still adapting to the changing landscape as it gradually rehires its team and starts looking ahead in an attempt to reimagine the future of immersive experiences. While it still feels tentative and uncertain, Andres has gotten a lot more comfortable with the idea of openly sharing that uncertainty with his team. If nothing else, he says, that will have been one of his biggest lessons learned.
“If there’s one thing I’d change, it’s that I’d keep my employees much more informed and tell them a lot more about what I was doing. That could have alleviated a lot of my team’s anxieties.”
While the jury is still out on when we’ll all be packing into a concert arena next, BLVD’s newfound transparency and vulnerability have proven essential in rallying their team as they look for new and creative ways to keep producing exceptional work. And if there’s one thing this series has taught us, it’s that communication, humility, and ingenuity are cornerstones of a company’s resilience. So no matter what curve balls lie ahead, BLVD will be more equipped than ever to weather the storm.