Craft ad messages that reflect the times

In the title ‘times’ obviously indicate the global economy slow down or recession. So how the marketers must proceed in their ad campaigns
limiting their ad spends but sending messages to their customers synonymous with times.

With corporate managers under enormous pressure to control costs and maintain liquidity in the current credit crisis, advertising budgets often appear to be a dispensable luxury in the struggle to survive. Executives who succumb to that temptation, however, put the long term future of their companies at risk.

The first reaction is to cut, cut, cut, and advertising is one of the first things to go. As companies slash advertising in a downturn, they leave empty space in consumers’ minds for aggressive marketers to make strong inroads. Today’s economy provides an unusual opportunity to differentiate your self and stand out from the crowd. It takes a lot of courage and convincing to get senior management on board with that.

With demand slack for advertising services, the cost of these services goes down, making advertising expenditures all the more defensible in a bad business climate. If your company has something to say that is relevant in this environment, it is going to be more efficient to say it now than to say it in better times.

Research shows that companies that consistently advertise even during recessions perform better in the long run. A Research study looking at 600 companies from 1980 to 1985 found that those businesses which chose to maintain or raise their level of advertising expenditures during the 1981 and 1982 recession had significantly higher sales after the economy recovered. Specifically, companies that advertised aggressively during the recession had sales 256% higher than those that did not continue to advertise.

For companies that do stay the course and continue to advertise into a recession or increase their promotional activities, the key is to craft messages that reflect the times and describe how their product or service benefits the consumer. For example, companies might be tempted to emphasize price in a recession, but that only works for companies like Costco and Wal-Mart that are built around a core strategy of providing low prices year after year.

The current Wal-Mart campaign ‘Save Money. Live Better,’ as a successful approach to the recession, The Martin Group in Richmond, Virginia, which developed the Wal-Mart ads, acknowledges the campaign began in 2007 before it was clear a harsh recession was building. But ‘Save Money. Live Better’ is dead on point with who they are and what they want to be.

Chief executive of the Millward Brown Group advertising firm in New York City, says that while companies should probably not dwell on the recession and scare consumers into hoarding their pennies under a mattress, certain products require a straight up approach such as financial services.

If you are in the financial services category, to behave as you did a year ago is silly. At the same time, however, many consumers are weary of negativity generated by the recession and would be receptive to a more upbeat message. If you can put a positive spin on how you can genuinely help without invoking doom and gloom, that is going to be more compelling.

The Texas-based gym chain as an example of a company that has found a way to navigate the economic slump while promoting a product that might seem discretionary or self-indulgent in hard times. One television spot shows legs working a stair climber as words pop up across the screen changing from ‘First floor’ to ‘12th floor’ to ‘Kilimanjaro’ to ‘Olympus’. Finally the words, ‘The Corporate Ladder,’ appear. This is about being goal-oriented as opposed to a general fitness or vanity play.