Some advertising executives have recently become interested in the academic literature. These advertising scholars have been citing studies that have found that advertising during a recession is potentially good for business. The basis for their argument is that as your competitors withdraw their advertising and you maintain yours, your relative share of voice will increase and the result in the change in equilibrium will result in your brand gaining share in the fullness of time. This is undoubtedly the case.
However, it is only one side of the story. Advertising effectiveness is markedly impacted by context. The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) collaborated with Forethought to understand the effect of context on brand safety. Applying the Prophecy Feelings® scale, we specifically looked at anxiety, anger and sadness and found a significant reduction in effectiveness caused by negative context. These findings were referenced in ‘How Context Can Make Advertising More Effective,’ Journal of Advertising Research, June 2018.
Forethought strongly believes that the risk to brand safety will at least partly nullify the benefit of advertising during this recession.
National advertisers have an added dilemma. Australia’s second-most populous state is enduring a second wave of the coronavirus. Brand safety in Melbourne is now different to brand safety in elsewhere in Australia. The Forethought Normality Index reveals that anxiety as measured by the implicit Feelings® scale is statistically significantly higher in the southern State than it is elsewhere in Australia (the red dots indicate Victoria is significantly lower on the negative emotions and the blue dots indicate that Victoria is significantly lower on the positive emotions). Should advertisers change their campaigns to accommodate these State differences?
Advertising when others are silent might yield long term benefits, however, you need to be equally aware of the context in which you are advertising and the risk of context diminishing effectiveness.