Brands should maintain their adspend levels wherever possible during the COVID-19 crisis, while also using the present situation to carefully map out plans for 2021.

Such was the perspective offered by Mark Ritson – an Australia-based brand consultant, columnist and marketing academic – on a recent webinar held by Marketing Week.

“This is such a weird time … But there is a great chance to sit back and plan what we are going to do in 2021,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Ritson cites empirical evidence to maintain adspend in recession.)

Elaborating on this subject, Ritson outlined a checklist for marketers to consider as they set about their work in an extremely challenging business environment.

“The best thing most marketers can do for the next three months,” he argued, is to “make money for their companies”, as well as “generate value for customers”, “extract money”, and “use that money to drive revenue and pay employees”.

Added Ritson, “Nobody here should feel guilty about executing good marketing and generating profits. It’s what we’re going to need in the next 18 months ahead.”

Equally as important, though, is planning for the longer term: “You should view a recession as a tough time, but also as the ultimate time to build brands and grow market share.”

He quoted a variety of studies – dating back to analysis conducted in 1927 – that indicate the importance of continued advertising spend in the face of a downturn.

“We have studied recessions and the impact of advertising for a century. And there are dozens of studies to prove what I'm saying is true. And, equally importantly, there are none, so far, that challenge.”

If the short-term obstacles of the current crisis appear overwhelming, the long-term payoffs of continued advertising are hard to refute.

“You should maintain your advertising budget in a recession [because] recessions are ultimately short-lived,” Ritson argued. “Once things have settled down, they leave you in a stronger share position for many years afterwards.”

With several pieces of research grounding his recommendations – “I am not making this up,” he noted – Ritson emphasised the significance of thinking ahead.

“Maintaining your budget through this recession – seeing the long-term picture – will actually grow your market share significantly as we come out of this recession,” he said.

“And if you’re smart and bold enough to increase budget during this recession, the post-recession growth you experience will set up your brand for the long term.”

Sourced from WARC