We’ve weathered another lockdown and, once again, businesses have questioned their strategies when it comes to marketing. There is no doubt business leaders were better prepared to go into the second lockdown and are better equipped to pivot as we move into tiered restrictions.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the marketing and advertising industry – during the first half of 2020, UK marketing budgets were cut by their highest levels in the more than 20-year history of the IPA Bellwether report. During the first lockdown, Channel 4 predicted ‘severe’ cuts to ad revenues and ITV spoke of their battle to keep brands advertising on the channel back in May and more than six months later, despite being better prepared for the second lockdown, it was more bad news for businesses of all sectors.
There’s been so much upheaval in 2020 and whether you’re a brand needing PR and marketing support, an agency needing new business, or the consumer waiting to make a big decision like a house move – we can’t stay in a state of limbo for much longer. So, regardless of what happens in wider business recovery, we need to lead from the front and move forwards. No matter how cliché it may sound, we’re heading into a new year which means a fresh start.
Though there are undoubtedly more hard times facing many companies, that doesn’t mean businesses should cut or hold back on marketing budgets. As we move into the festive period and more consumer-driven ads fill our screens, from Coca-Cola to Aldi, brands must prepare to make a noise in 2021 as the government announces yet more positive news on the vaccine front – though it will take some time to be rolled out to everyone – and hopes we will return to some form of ‘normal’ life by Easter.
Holidays are coming
Coca-Cola, one of the world’s best-loved iconic brands, cushioned the decline of its cinemas, bars and restaurants business by reducing marketing spend globally and, in some markets, coming “off-air” entirely in Q2 of this year. This was a bold move for the drinks giant and was in stark contrast to brands like Procter & Gamble which ramped up its marketing spend amid increased consumer demand during the pandemic.
Coca-Cola bounced back with a new ad campaign in August, advocating for a better life post-pandemic and a package of marketing support for the hospitality sector which saw it donate millions worth of advertising budget to hundreds of its commercial customers to help get them back on their feet.
Now, the brand is celebrating 100 years of Christmas ads with a new campaign launching in December – running alongside its ‘Holidays Are Coming’ messaging – encouraging people to “give something only you can give – yourself” and be truly present with one another. The brand has always been focused on bringing people together and, despite completely cutting ad spend for part of 2020, it has gone big on budget in the second half of the year as it realised the need to move forwards and continue to communicate with its global audience.
When we went into the first national lockdown at the beginning of the year, nobody knew it would go on so long. Brands’ hesitation to go ahead with marketing budgets as planned and the widespread lack of confidence was understandable but, nine months in, so many industries and companies have been devasted by it, the nation needs to carry on and get our economy back on track. It’s up to consumers as much as it is to business owners to get everything moving again; it’s an ‘everybody in’ effort to recover and grow in 2021.