Advertisers Return to Business as Usual; Displaced Ad Dollars Shifted to Q4

25 September 2001

Despite the disruption to ad schedules following the attacks on the US a fortnight ago, not to mention the cancellation of campaigns by airlines and insurance companies, most advertisers intend to keep their adspend at previously budgeted levels and return their ads to the air.

One such firm is AT&T. “Our goal is to help our customers get through this and now, more than ever, we have to be bullish in coming to our customers’ support,” said director of marketing communications Stephen Block, “We are staying committed to our advertising plans. There were some issues about the appropriateness of some of our ads, some creative issues, but we are scrambling to fix that.”

Like many companies, AT&T pulled spots it deemed insensitive or inappropriate, dropping ads in 130 markets. However, the money displaced by the cancellations will be reallocated to the fourth quarter. Said Block: “[AT&T is] not looking to add to the economic spiral by pulling our ads.”

Another advertiser sticking to its ad budget is retail giantSears, which spends over $300 million a year on TV ads. “At this point, we have no plans to make any changes in our advertising levels,” said Rex Conklin, manager of broadcast media. “Right now, it will be business as usual. We plan to stay on the air and go forward as planned.”

Pfizer/Warner Lambert, Gap, Home Depot and MasterCard have also vowed to keep their scheduled TV campaigns on-air. Coca-Cola resumed advertising over the weekend with a new spot featuring baseball player Cal Ripken Jr, though it dropped its ‘Life tastes good’ tagline. PepsiCo and Verizon, on the other hand, are still reviewing their marketing strategy day by day.

The general shift of displaced ad dollars to the fourth quarter was confirmed by Mike Shaw, president of sales at network ABC, who revealed there had been “no wholesale pullout,” adding: “Nine out of ten advertisers have said they will re-express.” Due to the slow sale of Q4 airtime before the attacks, prices are not expected to change.

A similar trend is apparent in radio – McDonald’s, Nissan, Budweiser, Toyota, Lexus and Coke all pulled their spots at first, but are reallocating the money to the fourth quarter. All are now back on the air with previously scheduled campaigns.

News sources: (USA);