Advertising through a recession

Viewpoint April 2020
Advertising through a recession

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Advertising through a recession


The coronavirus pandemic threatens to plunge the world into the deepest and longest recession for almost a century. Not only is it predicted to be more severe and more all-encompassing – in terms of categories and countries – than any recession in living memory. The growing lockdown of free movement of citizens will also make it unlike any other.

Brands that are still able to trade effectively in these extraordinary circumstances are looking for guidance on what marketing they should undertake during the pandemic, during the recession that will follow, and afterwards. 

While it is in theory attractive to turn off marketing investment, historical precedent suggests that brands that thrive during and after a recession are those that sustain and even increase marketing spend.

“Going dark” and focusing on short-term price promotions are in fact counter-productive strategies. They erode brand equity measures, stifle growth, and put brands at competitive disadvantage. They also make it incredibly challenging to retain price premiums that brands take years of long-term brand building investment to secure.

Photo of Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell

Head of International Effectiveness

Mike leads Ebiquity’s International Effectiveness Practice, helping brands to optimise marketing investments across multiple markets. He is based in our London office. Prior to joining Ebiquity, he spent 12 years as MD of Ninah Consulting’s London office and global head of its FMCG Centre of Excellence, working with Nestlé, Diageo, and General Mills.

What it covers

  What we can learn from history    

  The perils of shifting spend into short-term promotions    

  The impact of “going dark” on retaining brand price premiums  
  Recommendations for advertisers
Brands are likely to need to hold their nerve for longer and dig deeper than in previous recessions.”