The New Yorker magazine has an interesting piece this week about corporate spending on brand advertising and promotional activity during tough economic times, like now. Read it and perhaps you will agree that now is the time to increase, not cut back on, your brand building activities.
The article mentions several examples of brands that have taken different routes, some expanding their spending, some cutting back. The author, James Surowiecki, notes that most brands that came out of hard times strongly, do so after holding or increasing their spending on brand building activities.
He starts with a Kellogg and Post example. During the 1930s Kellogg introduced new products like Rice Krispies, and doubled ad spending. Post cut back on expenses and advertising. The result was that Kellogg’s profits increased 30% by 1933 and became the dominant player in breakfast cereals, where they remain to this day.
Seems to me there is a lesson for everyone here. Anecdotally, I am beginning to hear about a real slowdown in some areas of marketing services, reflecting an overall retrenchment by marketers. I agree with James though. While it may be a tough call to increase your marketing activities while the sky seems to be falling, historically some of the best and most enduring brands have done exactly that.
The image above is a 1931 ad for Rice Krispies.