With COVID-19 effectively shuttering large sections of life and business, at Ebiquity we were keen to help share insights on the impact that the global pandemic was having on brands, in particular as regards their latest media spend and sales projections for 2020.

At the end of March, we surveyed marketing leaders from 44 brands who between them invest more than $15bn in media spend and generate ~$200bn in global sales. Respondents represent a variety of industry categories.

The headline findings of our survey are:

•  Two-thirds of brands have already reassessed their media budgets for the rest of the year ahead

•  80% are planning to reduce their media budget in 2020, and more than half are planning cuts of more than 20%, with offline – including both out-of-home and cinema – taking a bigger hit than online

•  Media spending plans for FMCG and food and beverage brands are less affected than other sectors

•  Three-quarters of brands are expecting no revenue growth or declines in revenue for the year ahead

Our survey shows the extent to which COVID-19 is disrupting brands’ plans, with many pausing or delaying activity and many cancelling 2020 activations altogether. This year was scheduled to be the year of the Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020, a football tournament across 12 European markets. Sponsors are looking to recoup long-committed marketing investment. In other categories, marketing investment is being pulled because brand owners – from non-essential retail to gambling, travel to cinema – are unable to trade.

If anything is clear from the global pandemic, it is that change is constant and rapid. What was possible yesterday may be impossible tomorrow; what was shut off last week may be possible again next month. Uncertainty clouds 2020, and to get a clear read on brands’ intentions and behaviours, we’re planning to revisit marketing leaders next month – and repeatedly throughout the year – to keep track of how the situation is changing. Brands need clarity and guidance on how the market is evolving in these unprecedented times. It is our aim to shine a light on media and marketing, to enable advertisers to set the right priorities for their decision-making.


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