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Responsive and Resourceful Advertising For a Recession

Updated: May 13



Maintaining an advertising presence during this pandemic and the upcoming recession is going to be a challenge for many brands. Marketing budgets are cut and social distancing laws limit our ability to film new content. But we know advertising now is more important than ever - so what should we do?


A few weeks ago we shared our insights about why brands need to continue advertising even while sales and services are temporarily down. When we look at data from previous recessions, it is clear that the impact of advertising during financial crisis is even more profound than during economically stable periods. A Harvard Business Review study followed 200 companies during the 1923 recession and found the brands that continued with their advertising were 20% further ahead after the crisis.


And consumers are telling us the same thing. In our recent research about the pandemic, consumers reported an expectation that brands will continue advertising - it gives them a positive distraction and a feeling of normality. And there is a benefit to the advertiser as 90% of people claim they will feel better about the brands that show their support.


Easier said than done! Ad development is expensive. Media costs even more so! And production is almost impossible while we are all in lockdown. But it doesn't have to be this way. Instead, many very clever brands being super creative and resourceful have found a way around this.


The answer? Work with what you already have in your arsenal. Dust off some of the old ads. Many big brands have a long history of making great ads. Consumers will have latent memories of these ads, and, in some cases, feelings of nostalgia and warmth. So consider whether you can re-use an old ad or adapt your past ads to remain top of mind and relevant.


Our research about COVID-19 ads found that consumer attitudes haven't actually changed much. We re-tested several old Super Bowl ads and found that the response to the ads was almost identical to the response before the pandemic. In some cases, where the ads were strong on humour and empathy, the response now was even better. So, re-using older ads is a viable option to connect with consumers, and can even create a sense of warmth and nostalgia.


Obviously there are some watch outs. We need to be mindful of the effects of COVID-19 and current social distancing rules. Avoid scenes with big crowds, or activities that are no longer accessible. Also be sure that your message isn't perceived as opportunistic or trying to sell items which are currently unattainable/non-essential (like a high-end luxury product).


Instead work from your advertising history of brand ads. This is where the brands which stand for something and have a strong, clear and consistent purpose will win out.


Budweiser - 'Checking in, that’s still whassup'


Vodaphone - Stay Together


Oreo - Stay Home. Stay Playful


Gold Coast - Let's play again soon

Even travel ads are featuring, with travel brands looking ahead to see inter-state travel reopening.

Visit our website for more insights on how to manage your brand during COVID-19

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