After the bloodbath

After the bloodbath

In Sir Martin Sorrell’s recent video interview with ‘The Drum’, he predicted that the current marketing and marketing agency situation was something of a bloodbath, but forecasted a fairly fast ‘reverse square root’ shaped recovery in Quarter 4.

We believe this to be true, not least of all because here at LAW we are already dealing with client enquiries about an ‘exit plan’. One thing stands out though. The conversations aren’t about creative work, studio capacity, content creation or any of the other activities that we carry out as part of our normal work load – because things aren’t normal. Instead, the conversations have centred on strategy and data, targeting and delivery. At the planning stage, the most important thing that needs doing is to work out who you need to reach, how you’re going to do it and how you can afford it before the creatives even turn on the Macs.

What this indicates to us is that the world post C19 is going to be very different. The marketing world had got comfortable with a mix where digital had its place and we were used to seeing incremental year on year increases in expenditure into digital channels at the expense of traditional ones. Now, there is only data and digital worth talking about. C19 has had a massive accelerative effect on the shift to digital expenditure. This shift is not going to go away when times return to normal.

This relatively ‘careful and steady’ turn to digital can be seen in the Q3 2018 survey by The Manifest*. Most businesses, pre C19, devoted either 26-50% (38%) or 51-75% (34%) of their overall marketing budgets to digital. Website development and social media channels were estimated to grow at the expense of paid search and banner advertising.  Only 8% of companies invested between 76% – 100% of their budgets to digital. The same survey, only 18 months ago, revealed that of the 501 companies surveyed, 76% thought that marketing had ‘changed more in the past 2 years than it did the entire 50 years before.’

Now? The level of change could compress from 2 years to 2 months.

Digital also allows for high value messaging to be created fast and relatively cheaply compared with traditional forms of media.

Data driven, cloud computed and AI assisted planning models will create a new paradigm that will probe deep into customers’ minds and memories as they will be tailored specifically for them.

And just as the planning and execution will need to be nimble and good value, so will the marketing agencies that clients work with.

Everyone understands that through operational necessity, budgets aren’t currently what they were for the vast majority of businesses. But copious amounts of research show that those brands which continue to have a presence during a crisis or recession recoup their awareness and relevance fast and reap big rewards afterwards. For those who are interested in the maths (it’s a dry and academic read!) see how a French car brand that stopped advertising demonstrated that the memorability of its advertising was about 3 weeks.** Decay sets in fast, although that of course varies depending on how famous and understood your brand is at any given time.

So you have to stay in customers’ minds. Excellence in data management, digital planning and relevance to the market conditions in messaging are key. Can you imagine just weeks ago seeing an ad that says ‘thank you for not using our service’? Uber gets it.

You also need people that you can work with who will respond within hours, not days. Agencies like LAW, a Drum top 50 independent agency. Consequently, we also think that agencies that are controlled by holding companies – the civil servants of the marketing world – will have entrenched processes and the need to continue to pay for layers of bureaucracy that not only slow down their response times, but also cost clients more money.

Our advice for right now? Rebalance whatever your channel mix is to get out into the market digitally as soon as you can. Use smart thinking and data science to get the right message to the right people fast, cost effectively and with relevance. Whenever ‘normal’ comes, you will have the time to re-plan campaign strategies across a broader mix, depending on circumstances then.

Being digitally present now means that consumers will not forget you, or what you’ve said, even more so if it is helping deal with these difficult times. Brand emotional connectivity is vital, otherwise you might lose your track position. And it needn’t be expensive.

It’s good value and the right time to start to steal market share from your competitors (which is going to be your only source of ‘new money’ for a while) who aren’t as savvy, or who haven’t been as helpful or haven’t offered the same degree of customer care and empathy.

It will cost you nothing to get in touch with us and talk about how we can help you emerge from the C19 crisis in a positon that will enable you to sprint, not crawl.

Pick up the phone or drop us a mail. And start your fightback now with LAW Strategic Intelligence.

LAW is a Drum recommended agency offering Smart Thinking for strategy, creative, technology, data and content services. For more information please contact or

**How does awareness evolve when advertising stops? The role of memory
Ashwin Aravindakshan & Prasad A. Naik