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Changing Times: Optimism the keyword for TEN6 Creative

We caught up with Max Fellows, commercial director of TEN6 Creative, as part of our Changing Times series of industry views on the unfolding coronavirus outbreak.

“Some clients are battening down the hatches in survival and recovery mode, but we’re in work. Last week we had a meeting for a pitch, we’ve got another one today. Financially today we’re alright. In terms of accounting, we wouldn’t need to make any redundancies until the end of the year if things didn’t pick up.

“We’re going to be working from home until April. We’ve given the whole company a paid week off to take time out. We brought forward a personal development fund of £600 so they can do some training or whatever they like, it was money in the budget.

Max Fellows

Max Fellows

“People are still planning and looking until the end of the year. The biggest concern for owners, even those that have been forward-thinking, is if you’ve got 10 bums on seats and there isn’t work. There comes a point as a commercial business that you can’t pay people to sit there twiddling thumbs. There are a few agencies that I’m aware of where this could be it. It’s certainly worrying.

“I’m ever the optimist. I think we’re talking about two to three months, then it’s the summer holidays anyway. The majority of events take place in September, October, November, they’re always busy.

“There’s a slight naivety in saying ‘We’ll just postpone it’ – we’re seeing September as the go-to month and there’s not a lot out there for you to do the event in… There’s also concern for those that are postponing, they’re widening their event off. There’s the potential that management will make it biannual.

Massive change

“September is seen as the safe zone, but it’s changing day by day. June is when I believe people will start returning. That’s a lot of months without an income. People aren’t paying you to pitch. Two to three months of no pennies is a scary thought for most businesses.

“There’s going to be change in the way agencies and corporates work. If clients have halved their marketing team that do the events, who do they then step back to? Do they lean more on agencies? We just don’t know.

“I think there’s going to be a massive change to the terms of payment. That’s where people are getting caught short. People will want to be paid earlier.

“I think there’s a case of scrambling to diversify at the moment, people looking to do live and Zoom to stay afloat. Others are using it in a way to promote in a way that they shouldn’t.

“Last Friday (13 March) we had a client pull out just hours before an event and we turned it into a positive – an industry final salute and cheers moment for the next few months. It was done in a respectful way, we okayed it with them, we donated what we could to charity. It was just the industry having a couple of drinks.

“No one wants to make anyone redundant. We need to roll with the punches and help each other out. Some are being hit more than others. If it had happened three months later over the summer it would be fine for some and worse for others. It hits people in different ways.

“The recent government announcements don’t help the event industry. They’re offering loans and grants and you have to get into more debt to survive. The reality is it could be hard hitting for some. But you’ve got to be optimistic.”

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