Advertising In an Economic Downturn Will Save Your Brand!

Advertising In an Economic Downturn Will Save Your Brand!

Advertising During Economic Downturn Will Save Your Brand!


COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives, from working-from-home to social distancing to hoarding toilet paper. The coronavirus emergency poses an unprecedented set of challenges for businesses. As marketers, it is difficult to know how best to respond: do we cut spending, maintain a strong brand presence, or wait and see what competitors do?

When and if a recession hits, the best course of action is protecting your investment.  Brands that safeguard the hard-earned equity won in their marketing and brand campaigns will preserve the foundation they need to grow and rebound.  If companies cut deeply into advertising and communications budgets in a down period, the cost to regain share of voice in the market once the economy turns may cost four or five times as much as the cuts saved.


“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

—Henry Ford


A look at the facts

The chart below shows that the average recovery period for a market decline of more than 20% is about 400 days. That’s just over a year. Since it is an average, some market declines lasted longer and others were shorter. But they always recovered.

Chart showing market downturns from 1950 to 2019 using Standard & Poor's 500 Composite Index.

There are dozens of case studies of major brands who increased advertising during a downturn or uncertain times. A simple Google search will reveal how brands like Kellogg’s improved profits 30% during The Great Depression by increasing advertising and overtaking rival Post Cereal for decades to come.

In the 1990-1991 recession, McDonald’s made a decision to stop advertising all together. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell capitalized on this by rolling out massive and innovative ad campaigns.

The results?

  • McDonald’s sales decreased by 28%
  • Pizza Hut sales increased by 61%
  • Taco Bell Sales increased by 40%


Making bold marketing decisions now can pay dividends later, as previous downturns have shown

Research from McGraw-Hill, the IPA and Kantar consistently shows that brands that maintain marketing spend during a crisis increase sales and market share. Moreover, the decision has a lasting impact for several years after the crisis period, with brands cutting spend proven to continue to lose market share long after marketing spend has been reinstated.

Is your brand struggling to maintain connections with consumers? … Consumers have high expectations of brands in a time of crisis and have already begun to react to brand messaging around coronavirus. Thankfully, here are some tried-and-true ways that brands can advertise, and thrive, during a recession.

With a huge surge in increased call volume to businesses, on hold messaging is your best solution to connect and communicate relevant information related to how COVID-19 affects customers and prospects, the prodict and service solutions you can deliver at this time to assist them, as well as the safety precautions you’ve taken to help protect them, your staff and the community.


on hold message example 1:


on hold message example 2:


Just as businesses have seen a surge of increased call volume, internet traffic has also surged during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many companies may learn from this experience that employees can work just as efficiently from home, meaning that surge will stick. Internet use is actually peaking in the middle of the workday, creating a great opportunity for B2B marketers using online marketing videos and social video ads.

It’s usually also more cost effective to advertise during uncertain times, because your competitors might not see the light. Less ad competition (think Google bids) means less expensive ads for your business. Your bang for the buck becomes greater and the lighter competition means there is a better chance you can reach your target audience.

marketing video example for websites and social video ads campaigns

*copyright Hungry Howies’s. Original On Hold in now way represents any affiliation with said company.


Final Thoughts…

Advertising is the key to your brand’s success, whether times are good or bad. While your competitors cut back, here’s our chance to gain market share, and when the “new normal” emerges, your brand will also be poised for  growth. History has shown that brands that maintain spend all along will not only recover faster, but will also grow.

If you need help navigating today’s waters, getting creative, rebuilding your digital presence or maximizing advertising spend and generating a solid ROI, contact Original On Hold  today.

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