If you believe the doom mongers – and, might we suggest, the opportunists? – you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re about to enter a very glum time in advertising.
Following the EU referendum vote in favour of Brexit, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is predicting a 0.2 percent “dip” in spend this year followed by a 1.3 percent “tumble” next . In the same Campaign article, Numis Securities predict ITV revenue will fall 5-10 percent over the next 12 months.
All the heat, light, and ink spilled since the Brexit vote tell us that the only thing we can really be certain of is uncertainty itself. Uncertainty breeds caution and caution halts ad spending. And yet a comprehensive review of the impact of reduced advertising spend over the 21 recessions (really!) in the 20th century by Tellis & Tellis, published at the start of the global recession in 2009, showed that cutting spend in a downtown is counterproductive for brands. This is true of sales, market share, and long-term brand health. Our own analysis shows that brands which continue to spend get more for less (media is cheaper), achieve a higher share of voice, and generate enhanced ROI. They may not actually increase sales, but they come out the other side in better health and ready to capitalise on the upswing. And those advertisers that actively increase spend gain significantly from that decision.
Cutting budgets in times of uncertainty is the easy option, but we believe brands should learn from recent history and avoid knee-jerk cuts just because we’re entering uncharted territory. Not only can brands contribute to a downturn by talking themselves – and their customers – into a recession, but ad spend recessions typically last longer than the actual economic downturn itself. During difficult times, brand owners are often tempted to cut above the line spend to support price. But this usually only serves to exacerbate the difficulty.
We believe that brands should keep their spending robust – within reason – and that, in this prolonged period of uncertainty following the Brexit vote, they should work with independent partners to guarantee that their spend is as efficient and effective as it possibly can be, delivering maximum ROI.
As Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, once said:
“I was asked what I thought about the recession. I thought about it and decided not to take part.”