Ad spend figures show the scale of cutbacks
Some of the UK’s biggest advertisers slashed traditional ad spend in the second quarter of the year as coronavirus restrictions hit investment plans.
McDonald’s cut its budget on media – including TV, radio, outdoor and cinema – by 97% year on year between the start of lockdown on 23 March and the end of June to just £1.3m, according to data from Nielsen. It also cut spend by the biggest amount from a value point of view, down £42.2m.
Amazon came next, with ad spend falling by 77%, followed by Sky which reduced on 60%.
There were some big brands that increased spend. Walt Disney’s was up 962%, eBay 176% and Microsoft 142%, while Public Health England’s investment shot up 5,000% to £43.9m – enough to make it the biggest spender in the period.
This was not enough, however, to stop overall spend falling 48%.
The decline is reflected in ITV’s results this week, which showed ad revenue down 43% in the second quarter. The hope will be that advertisers that pulled back in the first half are ready to spend in the second, and that certainly seems to be the case with some.
But with uncertainty, worries about a second wave and a fast approaching economic recession and hit to unemployment, brands will need to feel confident their investment will pay off both in the short and long term.
Häagen-Dazs doubles digital investment
Frozen food has been one of the beneficiaries of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown as consumers with more time at home and sunny spring weather looked to indulge.
That meant ice cream brand Häagen-Dazs could afford to invest in marketing, and even try out something new. The brand, and its owner General Mills, have been developing their influencer marketing strategy, focusing on hyper local communities and ‘super fans’ in order to democratise influence and have more of an impact.
This was put to the test in the brand’s partnership with immersive cinema company Secret Cinema. The key, according to head of marketing culture and brand experience in Europe & Australasia at General Mills, Arjoon Bose, was allowing influencers to be given creative freedom and it resulted in one of its most effective campaigns to date.
As many companies brace themselves for a recession and cut marketing Häagen-Dazs is doing the opposite (in digital at least). Bose is keen to point out that by continuing to market during the uncertainty of lockdown he believes the brand has gained love that will last for the longer term.
UKTV embarks on brand repositioning
UKTV is embarking on a comprehensive brand repositioning project running across all seven of its channel brands.
Rather than Covid-19 causing it to pull back, the company is using the crisis to push forward. Its marketers are aware of the trend towards short-term performance marketing but believe a focus on brand will pay off longer term.
UKTV admits it has not refreshed its brand channels and their positioning in six or seven years, with people too often tuning in for individual shows rather than the channel itself.
It has three objectives: the first is to revitalise UKTV’s challenger mindset, the second to sharpen and strengthen the brand positioning of each channel, and the third to realign the whole company behind each brand.
This is a harder task then overhauling FMCG products but with its 360-degree approach and comprehensive goal’s, UKTV’s ambitious plans sound promising.
The rise of NHS Charities Together
NHS Charities Together has been one of the success stories of 2010. Unheard of by most at the start of the year, its public appeal to help the NHS in response to Covid-19 has now raised more than £130m, putting it in the charity fundraising super league.
But as with many things, success leads to new challenges. Raising £130m seems to have been the (relatively) easy part, now comes the difficult job of distributing it.
The charity also needs to work to maintain its brand awareness and educate on the mechanisms of charitable donation to the NHS, while offsetting concerns that its money might be used in place of public funding. All these are being considered by its CEO Ellie Orton as she looks to the future.
Celebrating brand success
This week, we unveiled the shortlist for the Marketing Week Masters Brand of the Year award for 2020. The seven that made it on are Birds Eye, BrewDog, Microsoft, NHS Charities Together, Oatly, Tesco and TikTok.
It’s an eclectic list, from frozen food to beer, social network to supermarket. But all have one thing in common, managing to navigate a pandemic and come out stronger.
The winner will be unveiled in September but for now we are asking everyone to vote for their favourite to help us determine who that winner might be. So have a read of the profiles and get voting!