At the first hint of going into a COVID-19 lockdown, most businesses unhooked their advertising campaigns and social media budgets. The thinking was “With no customers coming, why keep the lights on?”
The counter argument to this is that your business will shine brighter if all your competitors have gone dark.
Of course, you might dismiss this argument since it’s coming to you from a creative agency with a vested interest in you spending on advertising and marketing. But take a moment to entertain the idea.
Never has there been a better opportunity to “Steve Bradbury” past everyone else while they’re lying low, and be in first place when customers venture out of lockdown.
In recessions, as the category reduces its ad spend, a brand only has to maintain its existing spend level for an opportunity to grow market share.
There is substantial historical evidence to prove that when organisations maintain brand awareness during tough economic times, they overtake their competitors. The most famous case study is Kelloggs. In the twenties, they were America’s number 2 cereal company behind Post. When the Great Depression hit, Post quickly cut it’s advertising. Kelloggs, meanwhile, doubled its ad spend. By the thirties, Kelloggs had grown profits by almost 30% and went on to become the dominant name in breakfast cereal worldwide.
Similarly, Procter & Gamble is notorious for upping advertising investment levels when recessions hit. It increased its ad spend by 7% during the 2007/2008 GFC period to substantially increase market share across its healthcare, beauty, baby and hygiene brands.
According to CFO, Jon Moeller, P&G is “doubling down” during COVID-19. Some categories have risen by 20% as consumers stock up on cough medicine, cleaning products, shaving products and cupboard staples.
As marketing guru Mark Ritson wrote in The Australian, there are three kinds of marketers during COVID-19. Those who freeze, those who fix (using the downtime to update websites for online sales, pivot their business model etc) and those who flex (boldly advertising and taking advantage of opportunity).