Recession was front and centre in marketers’ concerns this year, with research that helped them navigate advertising in a downturn some of the strongest performing on the platform this year.

Top read in 2020 was the WARC Guide to marketing in the COVID-19 recession, which explored the early idiosyncrasies of the COVID situation:

- The nature of a demand and supply shock

- How brands should respond in the event of ‘going dark’

- Under-regarded tactics like pack-size adaptations.

Marketing locked into a view to short-term survival for many brands, with performance media and shoppable formats brought the discipline even closer to the point of purchase.

Part of the Marketer’s Toolkit 2021 focussed on the drivers of change for the year ahead. A key finding was that 74% of respondents to WARC’s survey reported that the crisis had accelerated consumer demand for value in their category, reflecting heavy job losses in sectors like travel and hospitality.

As Les Binet wrote in May, “this is not a typical recession. Right now it’s more like wartime,” he wrote. With lives at stake, the normal rules didn’t apply: “anything you do that helps people and gets noticed will help build your brand.”

Despite this, recovery has hovered on the horizon. 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.

Sourced from WARC