The ongoing pandemic is impacting every part of our lives. From the places we can visit, the way we prioritise our time, to the way we spend our money. And as Lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the globe, brands are beginning the process of ramping up their marketing activities, in anticipation of society getting back to normal. But that doesn’t mean advertisers are simply picking up where they left off, they’re thinking critically about how media and consumer shopping habits have changed and how strategies that worked in the past, won’t necessarily work in a new era of consumer habits.
Research carried out by the World Economic Forum confirmed a long-standing rule of thumb observed in the ad industry that, “ad spend follows any rise or fall in GDP. Over the last decade, as global GDP has risen 3-6% each year, the ad market has grown with it to around $646 billion USD in 2019. Pre-coronavirus, the ad market was forecast to grow to $865 billion USD by 2024.”
But that research was based on gradual rises and falls in GDP. The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered whole industries overnight and put many sectors into deep freeze, resulting in GDP not just rolling down a hill but walking off a cliff and lying on the beach, waiting for the recovery services. Forcing a rethink – the pandemic has led to an immediate drop in advertising spending. First-quarter data from Publicis showed that year-on-year revenue in China was down 15%. Countries in Europe saw an average reduction of 9%; Germany and France fell 7% and 12% respectively.”
The remainder of 2020 looks set to be a challenge with wide-ranging complexities not only for the marketing and advertising industry, but for a number of sectors like travel, entertainment, and FMCG. Key stats collated by econsultancy show that the Retail and FMCG industries are seeing “UK retail prices drop by 2.4% in May, the largest monthly fall since 2006” and “2 in 5 UK shoppers say they will make more online purchases after lockdown ends.” For the Advertising world, it has resulted in retail and FMCG brands working hard to rebound and stimulate sales. For example, “Weekly ad spend by US video game retailers tripled between mid-March and mid-April” and “Connected TV video ad impression volume grew 69% year-on-year for the same period.”
But not all of this is doom and gloom, there could be some valuable lessons learnt as businesses can find ways to adapt to the ‘new norm’ through online platforms. Further research from WeForum suggests that the Covid-19 business impact is positive for the UK with, “7% of UK brands ‘seizing the opportunity’ to invest more in marketing,” and “60% of large global organisations have identified new processes that they might use post-outbreak.”
With many companies and brands adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic over the past 3 months, it is fair to say that more digital solutions need to be considered for all industries., Even during a time that feels like a downward spiral, there can be an opportunity to be seized by creating a digital presence for the long term.
Brands need to find the right tone
We are slowly becoming a new type of consumer, as being indoors has led to a shift in our lifestyles. We’re now spending more of our time online than ever before, whether it be through social media or streaming services. For brands, the focus is finding the right tone as the world slowly starts to reopen and adjust to a new normal. Advertisers have adapted by following consumers, which means prioritizing digital advertising and listening to their customers online and creating thoughtful and encouraging advertising campaigns. For example, retail giant Nike created an uplifting lockdown campaign featuring world-famous athletes such as Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, and Mo Farah pulling through some of their toughest challenges.
Nothing beats the real thing
When fast-food chain KFC made an announcement they were gradually reopening their restaurants for delivery and takeaway following the UK lockdown closure, they took to social media to create their latest campaign. KFC collated images from customers who attempted to recreate KFC during lockdown taken from its #RateMyKFC social media campaign, which encouraged people to make their own versions of colonel’s famous fried chicken and share their posts via social media for the brand to critique it. This garnered thousands of tweets and an engagement rate of 101% among its followers in six weeks. The latest advert is a “tongue in cheek campaign” played alongside the soundtrack of “All By Myself by Celine Dion.” The ad ends with KFC reassuring consumers that “we’ve missed you too” but finishes by saying “we’ll take it from here” when it comes to producing fried chicken.