Latest Evidence from Peter Field on Advertising in a Downturn

Posted 23 April 2020.

​As you may know, the Comms Council has a strong relationship with both Peter Field and also the IPA in the UK.

Peter has just completed a piece of work for the IPA which looks at the data supporting advertising through a recession, the economic impact of previous pandemics (with some very surprising findings), why this recession is different from the last and what that means for advertisers. It was published last night.

If you only watch one video in lockdown, make it this one.

Watch the video

Read the written report

In summary, the key findings of his research derived from adapting previous lessons to this very new situation are:

1. Do not hit the panic button and withdraw brand advertising, unless short-term survival depends on it.

2. Resist the pressure to switch advertising spend from brand solely to activation – it makes very little sense to do so, even in the short term. Customers, in many cases are not reluctant to buy, they are unable to buy.

3. If the resources can be found, aim to maintain your share of voice, ideally at least at the level of your market share, where SOV equals SOM. You may even be able to reduce your budget if others are cutting theirs but be ready to adapt quickly to developments. You will need to monitor competitive activity regularly.

4. If the resources can be found, consider the opportunity to invest in lower-cost long-term growth by increasing share of voice during the recession.

5. Do not abandon your existing brand campaign unless it is clearly unsympathetic to the mood of customers. There may be more value and reassurance in continuity than in change.

6. Do not be frightened to use emotional brand advertising during recession – but ensure it is appropriate to the mood of customers. System1’s live research findings are right now supporting the use of advertising that demonstrates humanity through warmth, generosity and humor.

7. Look for tactical opportunities to create goodwill through acts of humanity and generosity, especially if you were proclaiming these virtues before the emergency.