Posts tagged ‘recession’
It appears that a depressed economy results in (sometimes misleadingly) uplifting marketing and content.
Marley and Me (major spoiler follows), about an uncontrollable Labrador and his hapless owners has cleaned up at the US and UK box office. It was marketed as a lightweight comedy, but I saw it over the weekend and it seems they forgot to mention that the dog dies at the end. The cinema was packed with people obviously wanting to see something cheerful – but they actually started to walk out when it became clear that the doggy wasn’t going to make it. I stayed ‘til the bitter end and cried…
first direct (who are a client of OnVisible, work’s online PR division) are launching a social media campaign about the little things that make a big difference to someone’s day, which looks like it’s going to focus heavily on making people happy.
Its seems that consumers are really responding to anything uplifting. Maybe the best opportunity for brands to engage at the moment is to offer a ray of sunshine amidst the economic gloom.
So, the economy is in free fall and we’re all doomed. Right?
The quallies at work have been doing a lot of focus groups with Credit Crunched Mums recently. Apparently yes, Mums are being careful and trying to be more frugal – but a lot of them are doing so not because they are very worried about their finances right now, but because they think things are going to get worse before they get better.
I think we might be talking ourselves into making the economic situation worse. The media isn’t exactly helping, a quick dig round nexis revealed dozens of recent case study stories about families who were cutting back and lots of first-person pieces by jounros describing how they were economising madly, but nothing suggesting that just maybe, a few people were actually carrying on pretty much as normal.
It’s admirable if someone decides to live more frugally now in order to try and safeguard their immediate future. But with every scare-monger story the media puts out, perhaps it has got to a point where people are taking more severe steps then they really need to, in turn bringing about the next step of the downturn they were trying to protect themselves against in the first place…
We are officially in recession, the economy is nose diving and there’s no question that clients have got less money to spend. Unless you happen to work in Digital (where every agency I know is still turning work away because they’re too busy), it’s looking a bit bleak.
I’ve already written about how as Planners we need to demonstrate our own effectiveness, both externally and internally, but maybe it’s becoming more about redefining the role of Planning itself in light of the new realities.
I’m getting quite evangelical about a greater role for Planning at the NPD stage (and fortunately my agency agrees with me) and from a purely practical point of view, involving Planning at this early stage can make the NPD research work harder and reduce the need for costly additional research and retro fit planning further down the line at the comms stage.
The value of Planning can also be defined in terms of the agency’s bottom line. Good planning advice and involvement upfront in campaign development (advising that those three briefs are actually two, tightening up propositions, giving the account director ammunition to deflect the client’s madder ideas, even on accounts which don’t have a regular Planner assigned to them), results in less creative resource being required, which saves agencies money.
So think about it, how are you saving your clients and your agency money?
I am loving these posters-for-our-times from the team at LOVE.
Good advice for the Planning community:
And also for Creative types:
A friend was asking me today if I’d ever thought about going freelance. I said that unless forced to by redundancy I thought it would be a bit foolish to try and build up a freelance client base in a recession where agencies are increasingly instigating ‘no freelancers’ rules in a bid to keep costs down.
So let’s suppose you’re a Planner working outside London, Miami, New York et al where the majority of Planning jobs are and you don’t want to up roots and move. Your employment prospects this side of 2010 aren’t that great.
What transferable skills do Planners have? Preferably ones that apply to recession proof industries? I’m just throwing this out there, I know most of us could become qual researchers (albeit probably at a more junior level), brand managers, or even account handlers at a pinch for the very organised ones, but what about outside marketing?
Any of you who have already made the jump to working for yourself might like this Sir Freelancelot complete with laptop which you can buy as a t-shirt from here.
Noisy Decent Graphics is hosting a series of expert guest posts on how design agencies should deal with the recession.
While I’m not pretending to have a similar solution for Planners, there are clearly some major challenges we are already having to navigate our way round:
- any data more than a week old is now questionable in view of the speed of financial change going on and it’s impact on attitudes and behaviour. So TGI, last year’s U&A and the qual from September need to be treated with caution
- but there isn’t a lot of spare cash sloshing about to spend on fresh insight
- and we’re going to have to work harder than ever to justify both the value we add to the agency and the Planning fees we charge to clients
Which might mean that any Planner with a good understanding of basic psychology is going to be most adaptable to the new status quo. (OK, all Planners should ideally already possess this, but let’s be realistic.) In the absence of reliable data, understanding the impact of mental processes on behaviour has got to be a good place to start from.
Time to dig out the old text books then.
Sorry to keep banging on about this (now apparently official) recession. But a few things cropped up over the weekend that I thought were worth sharing.
On the downside, over the last couple of days I’ve had reports of a restaurant where the takings are down 20% year on year, the hairdresser whose customers have added an extra week between haircuts and the beautician where you can now get a much coveted after-work appointment on two days notice.
On a more positive note, both freelance and agency mates are reporting unexpected work landing in their laps – from out-of-the-blue new clients to projects that had previously been written off as in Development Hell suddenly springing to life. I can only hypothesise that clients are so scared of having their marketing budgets slashed that they’re spending it while they’ve still got it?
I’m sure you’ve all read the ‘upsurge in sales for shoe repairers’ stories in the news suggesting that some sectors of the economy actually benefit from a downturn, in this case as people get their shoes repaired rather than splashing out on a new pair.
There was also an interesting piece in the New York Times as long ago as May of this year hypothesising that lipstick sales are a way to gauge the state of the economy, with the chairman of Estee Lauder commenting ‘When it’s shaky, sales increase as women boost their mood with inexpensive lipstick purchases instead of $500 slingbacks’.
I think you could add rising sales of other consumer goods as economic indicators too. Like ties – men might not be able to afford a new suit, but can still stretch to a new tie. Or an rise in cushion and throw sales set against falling sofa purchases.
So I suppose you’d better tell your New Business team to go after cosmetics, soft furnishings and erm, tie brands then.