Fleet-of-foot, low-cost, and relevant, Asma Elbadawi produces TV-quality video content for just £250 setting the scene for industry growth


TV and radio advertising spend is dropping. In 2017 the sector accounted for 34% of total worldwide advertising spend. This year it will be down to 29%. The trend is not new. It has followed the same path since at least 2006. 

Whilst viewing figures are falling for free-to-air television channels, remaining viewers are greying, too. The average age of a BBC1 viewer is 61. It’s a year older on BBC 2.  Research by Enders Analysis places ITV’s average viewer at 60 years-of-age. It’s two years younger on Channel 5 at 58 and on Channel 4 the average viewer’s age is 55. Even at E4 the average age is 42.

Advertisers trying to speak to millennials and Generation Z need to look elsewhere. The media landscape is fragmenting. Splintering into myriad shards. Consumer attention has shifted from linear free-to-air TV to Netflix and YouTube and Instagram and TikTok.

Covid-19 didn’t supply the match. It did, however, provide the lighter fluid - the accelerant fuelling the fire of change now ripping through the whole advertising industry. 

Under lockdown TV advertisers have at best a limited access to crew, and production facilities. Location shoots are off the planning schedule. Influencer-generated content, however, provides the perfect antidote.

Influencer Asma Elbadawi produces TV-quality video content

Asma Elbadawi is British Sudanese; an award-winning spoken-word poet, basketball player, activist and playwright.

This video  shown above offers a prime example of the speed of turnaround, the power and relatability of content and the low cost of production possible through skilled influencer-generated content. 

The same technology that splintered the media landscape has helped to democratise the media. The social web has enabled those with relevant ability to become writers, directors of photography, producers, creative directors, publishers and community managers. Elbadawi has plenty of hands-on experience. Tellingly, it is experience backed up with academic rigour. The athlete and activist holds a BA Hons in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging as well as a Masters in Visual Arts.

A one-o’clock-in-the-morning epiphany was the inspiration for this content. Adam Bowdery, Elbadawi’s representative at Fifth Talent, was driving through empty streets as Londoners prepared for Covid-19-induced lockdown. Could Elbadawi create an emotional yet inspirational poem to help unify a community in these unsettling times? 

Bowdery messaged Elbadawi with the germ of an idea. Overnight Elbadawi started to write the poem. Fifth colleague, Jonnie Owen was tasked with gathering striking visuals during lockdown. The team turned to Johno Verity a London-based director of photography who had recently filmed lockdown-London. They licenced footage shot by Verity during his daily bicycle ride. These shots were cut into footage taken by Pishi Modaress. A good friend and neighbour to Elbadawi Modaress used a drone bought from Currys PC World to produce some remarkable footage of Elbadawi shooting hoops on her local basketball court, as part of her daily, permissible exercise. 

With the poem recorded (on a smartphone) and visuals shot, Verity brought it all together in the edit. 

Production costs for making the video were around £250. This excludes talent and management fees but demonstrates the cost collapse associated with producing TV-quality film. The process also underscores the collaborative relationship between talent agency and talent plus the ability to ‘think around corners’ - creating striking, visual content at a time when getting a film crew on location is impossible.  

"We are definitely experiencing a turning point in ad creative,” says Oliver Lewis, founder and MD at the Fifth. Lewis stresses the importance of storytelling and the collaborative, “symbiotic relationship between a talented creative influencer and her manager”  and says that “this crisis, out of the necessity to solve challenges in new ways, has accelerated awareness and shone a bright light on the level of home production, the speed, relatively low cost and the passion that is possible with visionary influencers and their teams”.  

Lewis explained that though this film was not produced with a brand in mind, it wouldn’t look out of place on TV or in-stream across premium channels. “Her audience wouldn't have minded if this content had been an ad because of the authenticity of Asma's message and because her film is uncompromising."

Globally TV and video spend amounts to $173.8 billion. At $10 billion revenue influencer marketing is minuscule in comparison. But low cost, high speed and access to core audiences mean this may soon change.

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}