Don’t cut marketing or advertising budgets especially NOW

SUMMARY: According to the Financial Times, “advertising is a tempting place to start for finance directors on the hunt for cost savings. But even as makers of some of the world’s most popular household products are squeezed by the most intense inflationary pressures in a decade, they are thinking twice about taking the ax to marketing budgets”.

When Steve Jobs was back at Apple, the economy was in a downward trend. He decided to ramp up Apple’s advertising because “it was the right choice to make”. Marketing budgets usually get cut first because they are often viewed as an expense rather than an investment. That’s a huge mistake.

Former Leo Burnett adman Simon Broadbent was right — brands that don’t advertise are like planes with no engines.

There are several reasons to advertise during challenging times:

It seems other CPG companies have learned that lesson.

Procter & Gamble was particularly aggressive in seizing the moment, spending $8.2bn on advertising in the 12 months to June — $900m more than the previous year. Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, the world’s largest advertising group, said that alongside technology and pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods (CPG) had been among the most resilient industries during the pandemic.

While television still appeals for marketers as the strong up-front indicated Google, Facebook, and other digital platforms have become increasingly important although harder to measure.

What happens to sales when brands stop advertising?

IMO what does need major scaling back is advertising on social media. It’s been my experience that the ROI of these ads is really poor. On the other hand, ads on are growing in double digits. Why? Because people are usually in the buying process when they see these ads.

Television is also making a big comeback. The start of the NFL season is just a few weeks away, and ratings should be high since we’re pretty much confined to home again. Don’t view the poor performance of the Tokyo Olympics as a benchmark for TV ads. The Olympics have been bleeding users for a long time.

One thing I will say for most advertising is that it stinks. Not only are most ads annoying, but too many brands believe that increased frequency will somehow lead to more sales. Brands should be developing more ads rather than running the same ones over and over.

Now is the time to reach out to consumers with advertising that matters. Don’t ever think that cutting marketing or advertising is a smart move.

Originally published at on August 24, 2021.



Marketing and Political thought leader — Writer- Audiophile

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