The month in advertising: Now is the time for brands to invest more in marketing

All the big issues in adland this month...

You would expect a magazine that reports on advertising, and tacitly relies on it for its support, to implore brands to spend more on advertising – and even more so during an economic downturn as dark clouds hang over us all.

But this isn’t just the self-interested view of Campaign. The evidence of the benefit (and, in many cases, necessity) of doing so is plentiful, as described by some of the world’s top chief marketing officers and brands, including Unilever, Tesco, Mastercard and L’Oréal, in this issue.

While the best marketers understand the logic behind maintaining or even increasing a brand’s share of voice in order to maintain its hard-earned positioning in a recession, it is unfortunate that others in the boardroom do not.

It is therefore imperative that marketing departments are prepared to fight their corner and we hope that the illustrious group of marketers’ comments go some way to help this.

If you need further evidence, the IPA Effectiveness Awards case studies, as well as numerous academic accounts by the likes of Peter Field and Les Binet, should help in tooling the armoury.

To sacrifice decades of brand equity – and potentially let new entrants steal share – would be corporately negligent.

While the past month has seen more sad stories of agencies and media owners being forced to cut their cloth accordingly to the gloomiest predictions of adspend being cut (and in instances such as holidays and automotive, the cuts have been understandable), there was a glimmer of sunlight breaching the storm clouds with a recent report from Citigroup.

The investment bank noted that while Covid-19 had "significantly disrupted" marketing budgets, the advertisers it had spoken to were making cuts in the very short term only and that they were planning for them only to be temporary.

Cognisant of the long-term dangers associated with cutting too much, these advertisers could contribute to a V-shaped recovery.

The bank added that agency groups such as WPP and Publicis Groupe, with high exposure to consumer goods clients, could benefit from the recovery, which will come as welcome news to two businesses that have had to make painful choices to mitigate any issues with cash flow. 

Let’s hope that, like some of those advertisers that Citigroup mentioned, these agency businesses haven’t cut too far and too fast if there is a V-shaped recovery.

As well as maintaining or enhancing brand positioning, there has not been a time where such media value can be obtained for a long time. What a perfect opportunity to strengthen a brand. 

Media owners have also adapted and innovated brilliantly during the pandemic, with examples such as ITV’s "The people’s ad break", in an attempt to raise the spirits and protect their revenue.

Necessity may be the mother of invention but the reinvigoration of the commercial media market is something that all advertisers should welcome.

Trying to find positives over the past three months of lockdown and business inactivity has been hellishly difficult. Now, as non-essential retail reopens, we must hope green shoots of recovery will follow.

Investment in advertising will help brands grow again and more quickly.

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