marketing in a recession


This is a challenging time for brands, and advertisers are likely facing pressures to reduce marketing costs. However, research consistently shows – and experts continue to advise – that cutting ad spend comes at a high cost to brand health and business results in the long-term.

To that end we have put together a collection of insights from industry experts to help you navigate in this uncertain time, and to ensure that the brand decisions you make today set you up for success tomorrow.


lessons for advertising in a recession (GTVG)

This Fast Fact document of top lessons for marketing in a recession – developed with the Global TV Group – includes an overview of historical case studies along with a number of Canadian data points care of Peter Field’s analysis of the Canadian Effies.

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building brand equity in an economic downturn: five tactics beyond numbers (WARC)

Five tactics to protect marketing budgets when facing an economic downturn.

Ritson’s recession playbook: 9 steps marketers should take to survive the dark times ahead (Mark Ritson)

With a recession looming, Mark Ritson advises marketers to continue their brand building efforts: “You maintain the long of it because its impact is delayed but substantial and it will kick in exactly when you need it as the recession ends.”

what happens if I stop advertising? (WARC)

This article advises that long periods off air are likely to weaken brand health and marketing share – and once equity and share have declined, it can be hard to get them back up to previous levels, so the best way to ensure long term brand growth is to maintain ad spend. “This is especially true in time of recession, whereby investing in ad spend can bring significant long run advantage.”

the secret to surviving a recession? keep advertising – here’s how (the Drum)

Marketing during a recession is a delicate balancing act: You have to drive revenue and meet your bottom line, but you also want to be sensitive to the current reality.

don’t cut your marketing budget in a recession (Harvard Business Review)

Companies tend to cut marketing in a recession. But firms that maintain their marketing spend while reallocating it to suit the context – be it in product developing, advertising and communication, or pricing – typically fare better than firms that cut their marketing investment.

can advertising drive incremental results during high inflation? a cross-category analysis (WARC)

Using natural experiment frameworks and publicly available data, NBCUniversal Media wanted to test one idea popularized at the height of pandemic-related supply chain problems: does advertising drive incremental results during record high inflation?

Inflation and Economic Slowdown (Kantar & WARC podcast)

WARC talks inflation and economic slowdown with J. Walker Smith and Karine Trinquetel – insights experts at market research company Kantar. They discuss new consumer sentiment data and how brands can focus on resilience and serving consumer needs.

the drivers of marketing effectiveness – 7 principles of success (Peter Field)

In this insightful and practical presentation, Field presents evidence – featuring some new Canadian data – showing the role brand building plays in driving effectiveness, and the top considerations for marketers when developing a campaign, from building mental availability and engaging emotionally, to the importance of reach and the right media balance.

DECODED: Retail Edition (Rogers Sports & Media)

In this informative webinar Rogers Sports & Media present research that explores both Canadians’ and Advertisers’ attitudes towards holiday shopping, Black Lives Matter, and the brands they love.

tv in a pandemic: our attitudes & behaviours (IPSOS & thinktv)

Our new report outlines Canadians’ perceptions about television, advertising, and buying behaviour – including attitudes towards trying new brands, and the media that’s most likely to influence them.

why it’s important to keep advertising during a downturn (Peter Field)

An excellent overview of the key learning from our Peter Field webinar care of The Message.

what should ads look like in the time of recession? (Orlando Wood)

Orlando Wood writes about the creative that is resonating most during this crisis, and the 3 questions marketers should ask themselves about advertising now.

maintaining share of voice is key in recessions (WARC)

Maintaining share of voice is critical for advertisers during a recession, both to stay front of mind among consumers in a downturn, and in order to position their brands in an optimal way for the recovery.

advertising in a recession – long, short or dark? (Peter Field)

Peter Field’s guide to advertising best practice in a recession; April 2020

a marketing guide: what to do in a recession (Byron Sharp)

Bryon Sharp’s top two “Key Actions” are (1) maintain your marketing support (otherwise you’ll have to spend more when the recession ends trying to regain your momentum), and (2) don’t try to price promote.

the best marketers will be upping, not cutting, their budgets (Mark Ritson) 

It may seem like a paradox, but recessionary periods actually provide fertile grounds for marketers to grow their brand’s market share if they’re prepared to think long-term.

advertising through a recession (Ebiquity, April 2020)

A detailed and insightful report from Ebiquity. Key takeaway? “Although it is tempting for brands to cut ad spend during a recession, the evidence from recent periods of sustained economic decline suggests that it is a false economy to do so.”

brands’ behaviour now will affect future consumer buying decisions (Edelman Trust Barometer report)

Consumers want brands to do everything in their power to protect the well-being of their staff and suppliers (90%), and prefer brands take a traditional approach when it comes to communication

tv ads create more positive image of brands than digital, say consumers (GroupM research)

The report, Consumer Trust in Digital Marketing, by GroupM, questioned 14,000 consumers across 23 countries, and uncovered growing concern over digital marketing and the use of personal data that could have important implications for brands.

how media consumption is shaping Canadians’ mindsets (Mindshare)

Canadians are consuming more media than ever, but trust is not evenly distributed.

what happens if I stop advertising? (WARC)

This report looks at the long and short-term consequences of a brand going dark.

what brands can learn from history (and how this is a little different) (Peter Field)

Peter Field says now is not the time to take the foot off the gas on ad spend.

your advertising survival plan (the Drum)

The Drum offers advice on what advertisers should focus on right now.

advertising in a downturn (IPA research)

Should you advertise in a downturn? Research from the IPA suggests that you should.

how brands should communicate during a global crisis (Strategy)

Meeting demand without appearing opportunistic means going above and beyond and focusing on what would help consumers the most.

marketing your way through a recession (Harvard Business Review)

Brands that increase advertising during a downturn can improve market share and return on investment.