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How Are Digital Marketing Brands Adjusting to Covid-19 Restrictions?

We speak to the team at Buffet Digital about staying connected with consumers and getting creative with shoots when they can’t have a full team on set.

Buffet Digital is a digital marketing brand that works on creative photo and video content for food, beverage and travel brands. Servicing industries that have been hit hard by the knock-on effects of coronavirus, they’ve had to adjust to a new way of working. We caught up with co-founders Sophie McComas and Nikki To to hear how their work lives have changed and what they’re doing to help the hospitality industry through this challenging time.

It’s all about staying connected, according to McComas: keeping brands in the hearts and minds of consumers while they can’t interact in person.

“Most of our clients are restaurants, so we’ve been working with them to figure out strategies to get them through this time. They’ve all had different approaches to this; some are shutting down completely, some have tried to adapt and some are just trying different things every week,” she says. “It’s so important to stay connected to your customers, even when it’s not face to face. So our main objective is to keep these brands visible.”

To, who shoots most of Buffet’s photo content, agrees. “Business owners are trying to navigate so many issues right now and communications has become a low priority,” she says, “It’s nice to have clients relying on us to help communicate takeaway menus or whatever else they’re still offering so they can get on with what they need to do to keep their business afloat.”

While they’re still shooting, social distancing regulations and other coronavirus-related restrictions mean McComas and To have had to change the way they work. It’s no longer possible to have a full production team on set, but they’re still managing to create great content with some lateral thinking.

“We were approached to shoot a recipe video series as the [social distancing] laws were tightening up every few days,” says To. “At first, a few people were allowed on set, then only two people, then it turned out we couldn’t have anyone from the team on set – no one really felt comfortable.”

To says some creative thinking helped them finish the shoot with great results.

“It ended up being the chef, Kylie Kwong, filming the videos herself. We worked out a system where we were directing remotely, they would shoot, we would verify it, she’d upload it and then our editor would work on it and we’d send it back for approval,” she says. “It’s challenging working remotely, but it’s been really interesting to pull something together in a way that we never would have done before. It’s created its own homely look and feel.”

It’s been an extremely challenging time for the food and beverage industry, but McComas says she’s been impressed with the ways venues are adjusting to stay relevant.

“We’ve seen some amazing activity from clients, particularly from clients we didn’t expect. We thought some smaller businesses would just close for this period of time, but some are launching new aspects of their business.”

One such venue is Queensland’s 1889 Enoteca. The restaurant has launched a natural wine delivery service that will deliver some of the world’s best Italian wines to your door – an idea that had been in the works for a while, but never quite got off the ground – until now.

“Because they’re forced to, people are launching with this minimum viable product, seeing if it works then building on it and tweaking it from there,” says McComas.

Above all else, McComas says she wants to see the hospitality industry survive the coming months.

“We love this industry and we want to support it as best we can. Buffet has always been a celebration of food, drink and travel. We want to keep this message alive and not focus on the doom and gloom of it all,” she says. “Everyone still wants to eat great food and drink great wine. We want to use our channels to keep that message alive to help everything bounce back faster.”

It’s a sentiment To echoes. “We just want to use our skills to help people and support each other through this as best we can.”

Photography: Nikki To/Buffet Digital

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