The impact and aftershocks of the coronavirus pandemic threaten to disrupt all categories of business in the short, medium, and long term. With more than half the world’s population on lockdown and social distancing measures likely to be here to stay until an effective vaccine and treatments are developed, many categories are on pause – from travel and tourism to restaurant and pubs, from sport to non-essential retail. Even those categories still able to trade face disruption on a scale not experienced in living memory.

In this context, the rules and norms of how brands communicate and advertise products and services have suddenly changed. Plans for 2020 have been ripped up. Our own survey of more than 40 of the world’s biggest advertisers – who between then invest more than $15bn in media and generate ~$200bn in global sales – shows that 80% of brands expect to reduce ad budgets this year. More than half are planning to cut spend by more than 20%.

In this volatile and uncertain market, it’s hard for advertisers to know where to start and what they should do to rethink and reset priorities for the months and years ahead. Many of our clients are asking for clarity and assistance, so we’ve developed a simple, straightforward, and practical framework that brands can use to prioritise the decisions they make about media and marketing.

The framework guides advertisers to consider and prioritise more than a dozen key topics and issues in three core areas of budgeting, planning, and execution in the most agile and lean way possible. By mapping these topics against the key criteria of impact and control – how much impact they will likely have on the brand’s business and how much control they have over them – advertisers can quickly develop a tangible and flexible plan detailing where they should focus their energies now, in the near future, and in the longer term. This allows brands to decide:

(i) what they need to act on today

(ii) what they need to watch keenly,

(iii) which issues should guide their medium-term planning

(iv) what they should consider once the markets in which they operate settle into a more fixed new normal.

Ebiquity’s Rethinking Priorities framework to guide brand decision-making in the pandemic

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In uncertain times, it can be undesirable to cancel or pause everything, and it is impossible to attend to all issues that are clamouring for attention at the same time. Different categories have different constraints on their ability to trade and communicate, and our framework takes account of these often-subtle differences. It is also designed for updating quickly, as circumstances change. New information and shifting corporate priorities mean that advertisers may need to pivot every week or more often, so we have created our framework so that they can take account of the pandemic’s unprecedented rate of change.

If you’d like to discuss your priority setting, or if we can help in any other way, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to your Ebiquity primary contact or click here and we’ll do our best to assist you.

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