What we know about advertising in a recession

Explores advertising in a recession through the evidence available in the WARC archives and beyond. Typically, recessions cause businesses to rein in advertising spend in the short term, a mistake, that can cause long-term damage to a brand.

Marketers should think twice before cutting media budgets during a recession. There is a range of evidence from past downturns that shows those companies that maintained their investment generated higher growth than those who reduced budgets and went dark. Brands should think about long-term brand building rather than promotions. Some suggest this requires focus on customer service and current customers. Others argue for broad reach, brand building activity rather than focusing on loyalty.


A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global recessions tend to operate on a...

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