Never stop starting How to communicate corporate evolution

 

Over time, companies change! They enter new markets, optimize business structures or offer new products and services. Zalando is the company that evolved into Europe’s leading online fashion retailer. Through eight years of progress in a highly dynamic market, Zalando took many steps on their way from start-up to grown-up. This is how navarra told the story.

 

1. Information gathering and hatching a plot Workshop and Concept

A corporate video combined two important advantages

If you want to tell a story, it’s more than wise to get to know the protagonist before you begin. Where does he come from? What are his core values and ambitions? And where is he going? In this case, we needed to get to know Zalando up close and personal.

Based on the goals of communication we identified, navarra recommended storytelling as a powerful way to illustrate the company, present the facts and highlight key developments. After that, we needed to find the right format to tell the story. A corporate video was chosen because it combines two important advantages: information density and entertainment value. After these preliminary decisions, it was time to dive into a pool of information.

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Zalando took a stand, deciding on the concept »Fashion for Europe«

As with any pool, the better you filter it, the more attractive the swim. That’s why we filtered our information according to its possible impact, suitability for the target group and overall potential to serve the goals of communication. Equipped with all the data required, we returned to the agency and started outlining our concepts. Pitching these to Zalando and asking for clear feedback helped us learn exactly what they wanted and narrowed down choices for style, structure and story elements. At the end of this process, two stories made it to the next round for further development. At this point, however, Zalando took a stand, deciding on the concept »Fashion for Europe«. After that, everything started moving pretty fast.

2. Preparing for the mission Preproduction

Our workflows had to be parallelized

The first step in any video production is writing the script. But as soon as we began working on the scenes in detail, the clock started ticking fast – Zalando had a big corporate event coming up – in 22 days! Would it be possible for us to finalize everything for the occasion? We agreed to the challenge, confident in our ability to produce a video at top speed that would still meet the ultra-high standards of all our video productions. We’d just need to get creative, which is, after all, what we do.
After deciding in favor of the mission, our workflows had to be parallelized. While scripting, we created moods for key scenes, reviewed possible locations and determined personas for the fashion models. The instant the script was finished, it was turned into a storyboard and we began planning production at full length.

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We would have to be flexible in case of unforeseen events

Without a doubt, there would be a lot of people, places and things to orchestrate in such a short time. Two requirements became very obvious at that point: First, we would have to be flexible for unforeseen events; Second, we would have to increase efficiency even more if we wanted to make it on time. That’s when we came up with the idea to do our pre-editing on the road. With the help of two customized Volkswagen T5 Multivans that served as mobile editing workstations and transportation all at the same time, we were able to get the show on the road. The wheel in the sky kept on turnin’ and the journey began.

3. Mission possible Production

The train itself wasn’t late, just lonely ...

Our first stop was Zalando’s impressive logistics center in Erfurt, and Europe’s largest e-commerce warehouse (120 000m²) sure made us walk the extra mile when we stocked an entire production line with newly designed packages. After returning to Berlin, we faced a pretty common problem – the subway was delayed. Actually, the train itself wasn’t late, just lonely. Abandoned by its operator, there it was on the tracks, 100 meters away from us, languishing in the tunnel. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, the designated operator blessed us with his presence. Our spirits, and the curse of waiting, were lifted. After a two-hour delay the subway started rolling – and so did our cameras.

A 10 hour drive with pre-selecting and pre-editing on the road

In the beautiful city of Turin we had the opportunity to film at a historic site. The »Palazzo Scaglia di Verrua« is one of the oldest Renaissance buildings in town and it’s a great choice for showing off Italy in real Italian fashion. But before that, we had to hustle to get a uniform for the deliveryman scene. Due to the tight schedule, it was impossible to get a real uniform from the logistics partner. We solved the problem by resarching the production company and ordering the uniform directly from them. The shooting itself went pretty smooth after that, so we packed up and moved on to Paris. After a 10-hour drive with pre-selecting and pre-editing on the road, the crew went for the cliché and enjoyed the view at the Eiffel Tower with a glass of wine. Yet another cliché was realized the next day – the traffic was horrible. It took ages to get from one location to another, or to put it positively, we did a lot of unintentional sightseeing.

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The Octocopter had a broken circuit board

Heavy rain welcomed us to our last location in Sweden. Needless to say, we were prepared for that, but after shooting was already underway, the sun decided to make a sudden guest appearance. Our soaking wet location was dried out in minutes. To save the continuity, we watered every surface on set by hand. After managing that contingency, we discovered that the Octocopter we wanted to use for aerial shots had a broken circuit board. Always prepared, we were able to exchange it, but then the software needed an update – in the middle of the Swedish wilderness. Always ready to make the most of tech, we were able to do the update via mobile phone, thus saving ourselves the trip to the next Wi-Fi hotspot. In the end, from high up in the sky, we captured all the beauty that the Swedish countryside has to offer. Back on the ground, it was time to go home, home where the art is.

4. The Art of Montage Postproduction

Then the excitement kicked in

It goes without saying that during the tour we were also busy back at the agency. At navarra, we prepared the texts for the inserts, scripted the narrator text, booked the actress Luise Helm (the german dubber of Scarlett Johansson) for the voice-overs and recorded her at the sound studio. Thanks to pre-selection and pre-editing on the road, we already had a rough idea of what material to use for the montage. Nevertheless, we still had to put in some overtime to bring all the elements together and make them fit perfectly. Then the excitement kicked in. How would Zalando respond? Did we establish the right mood and rhythm? What do you think?

Our production was a journey. We met and mastered various challenges along the way, but in the end we delivered what we’d promised from the start: unique and sustainable corporate communication.

Boris Radke – Zalando, Corporate Communications
»Working with navarra was a pleasure. They are professionals every step of the way – from the attentive listening to the purposes of our company at the beginning, to the execution of the production itself. They proved themselves as flexible, communicative, skilled and focussed. This is why navarra was such a great fit for Zalando.«
Head of Corporate Communications, Zalando

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