Adapting during covid

Project Story

When everything seemed so simple.

The head of marketing from Able Foods, Spencer Ratliff, approached Hatsoff early in the year to discuss the launch of the brand in Q4 2020.

Able Foods is a disruptor in the ‘Ready-made-meal’ space catering specifically to people on the NDIS and helping support people with disabilities by providing them with employment opportunities throughout the business.

We loved hearing about their plans and were excited to develop a great content strategy to help them launch later in the year. The meeting was in February, which was before COVID-19 hit our shores and well before our industry ground to a halt due to heavy lockdown restrictions.

The top line brief was straightforward. Spencer wanted to produce a suite of content for a 3 month rollout, covering a pre-launch phase, soft website launch and hard launch. Along with the required outputs we’d film additional footage as an asset bank to be used in subsequent content down the track.

We’ve done this a million times, piece of cake.

The first hurdle.

At the end of March, Victoria went into lock down. It was unclear if production could continue or not, but we hadn’t planned to start work on Able Foods for a few months, so at that point we assumed everything would be back to normal by then. Surely?

Clear skies ahead.

By the end of June, the lockdown was coming to an end, so it seemed to be the perfect time to kick things off with an initial discovery session with the Able Foods team.

We do this with all of our new clients. It’s a series of workshops that help shine a light on key content opportunities, or reveal important problems that video content could help solve.

Our discovery process goes well beyond a normal project brief. We find just focusing on the granular aspects of the problem can lead to getting stuck, thinking about the execution rather than the overall business objectives. We start by zooming out and analysing the goals and desires of the overall business, then make our way back to the problem at hand. These steps provide deeper insight into their customer and ways we can go about communicating to them, which then informs what videos we need to create.

With Able Foods being a startup it was vital we developed the right ideas and executions to make the most of their budget. We believe if the discovery and planning is done right, great content doesn’t need to break the bank.

We then began creative development.

Enter stage 4 lockdown.

All of a sudden, new lockdown laws get announced which halt all physical production for advertising/marketing with no clear understanding of when things will change.

We’d booked a production window, confirmed crew and talent for a 2 day shoot working within COVID guidelines outlined by Film Victoria. We were also towards the end of creative development, planning for a studio/location shoot with multiple talent and a small production team.

What to do?

Because we’d spent the time in discovery and planning, we had everything we needed to adjust our approach quickly without having to start from scratch and waste time and money.

We contacted the DHHS to figure out what we were ACTUALLY allowed to do, then we looked at the existing production timeline, live date and finally we figured out what was possible with the creative within those parameters.

Some things change.

The team at Able Foods were already in problem solving mode due to the new lockdown laws, so we wanted to make sure we provided solutions, not problems.

"It's fair to say we were pessimistic about what we were able to achieve considering the level of restrictions, but those concerns were relieved when we sat down with Lloyd and Sam to identify a clear path to our live date."
Spencer Ratliff, Head of Marketing & PR

Pre-Covid, we planned to shoot over 2 days with a tight post production timeline to have content live for pre-launch - now this wasn’t possible. We had to get creative.

Luckily for Able Foods, one of the founders and the face of the business is Dylan Alcott, an absolute superstar both in his given sporting codes and in the wider community. Dylan was always going to be the hero talent for the content, but his professionalism and ability to adapt meant we could still produce something despite the strict COVID rules.

The idea was to have Dylan’s partner Chantelle film all of the required shots in their apartment while we directed and produced via Zoom Chat.

Once all the takes were approved, the video files were sent via Digital Pigeon and received on the same day by our post production specialist Ollie Knocker, who is currently based in Tassie due to lockdown. The script was locked, which enabled Ollie to have the first draft complete for review by the next day. And with speedy feedback from the Able Foods team, the content was approved and delivered within the week.

It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it worked.


Able Foods published the content on the 8th September and within the first 24 hours received overwhelming results.

"I don’t think we were prepared for the amount of interest we had within the first 24 hours. The organic reach was well beyond our expectations, with over 50K views and 300 shares, now we’re looking forward to seeing how our paid strategy performs. For a new brand, the first piece of communication is so important and I feel despite the challenges we faced, the content has been a huge success. We’re already working on the next phase of the content strategy with Hatsoff and are really looking forward to continue releasing regular content. It's one thing to say you create engaging content, but it's another to get real results."
Spencer Ratliff, Head of Marketing & PR

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