Thursday, June 18, 2009

Advertising Budget in a Slow Economy

Click on image to enlarge

As the cartoon by Tom Fishburne suggests, this is exactly what some premium brands are doing or thinking of doing. My advice: DONT! In times of economic downturn, the last thing you want to do is lose your premium advantage. Instead,

1. Focus on your core brand value and maintain it.

2. Try and avoid advertising budget cuts as much as possible. When the economy revives as we all know it will, you think it will do your brand any good if you had zero consumer contact during the slowdown.? Naah! I didn't think so.

3. No need to get all sappy. Just maintain brand loyalty through presence in multi-media. Nobody likes to be patronized, right?

4. This maybe a good time to go digital. Saves you money, expands your reach. According to Advertising Age, Procter & Gamble slashed U.S. ad buys 18% in the first quarter but more than doubled digital spending. "Our media strategy is pretty simple: Follow the consumer," said Marc Pritchard, global marketing officer. "And the consumer is becoming more and more engaged in the digital world."

5. Brush-up on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMO (Social Media Optimization). These are the advertising tools which will rule the coming years.

6. While buying media, this is the time to take advantage of the low cost of entry and increase your share of voice across categories.

The points mentioned above are not new to many as is evident from the fact that brands like P&G did not slash their advertising budget even during the Great Depression. According to TNS Media Intelligence (via Media Post), U.S. media spending declined 14.2% in Q1, mainly because of automobile brands. But companies like GE, Sprint, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon increased their media spend during the same period! Apart from financial gain, these companies will be perceived as stable and consistent, both desirable qualities for any brand. Don't you think?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

To Bing Or Not To Bing

I assume we all know what Bing is by now. After spending $80 million to $100 million on an advertising campaign which forced JWT to thaw its frozen hiring, I would believe the least Microsoft has done is created a brand presence. Always happy to use a new product or the latest in sevice, I jumped in to find out all about Bing. The words "new" and "latest" spell "improvement" and maybe a certain "cool factor" in my mind.

The first thing that struck me were the Bing ads. Here's one from the seriesNow check out the Bing site. What information overload are they talking about? The Bing site itself is filled with unnecessary trivia. Why would I want to know about the benefits of garlic when I am looking for information on Long Island? The brand promise does not match the goods delivered to our browsers. Also, do a mouseover over the homepage image and you will be bombarded with more and more stuff you had no intention of looking up.

I googled my name and my blog showed up. I tried on blog! Only my travel articles or rather, the same article came up multiple times. They have a separate link for blogs you might say, but where is the search box on the Bing blogs page?

Maybe marketers will have to re-think their SEO strategy as Bing throws up sub-categories on a search word. For eg. a search for "Long Island" got me a list of links to Long Island clubs, restaurants, tourism, facts, DMV, softball, economy and even maps. The maps link is kind of redundant when you think of it. I would have clicked on 'maps' at the top like I do for Google if I needed to look at a map.

As for the other players, I have never been able to find what I am looking for in Yahoo so I have stuck to Google for like forever. I was willing to change given a better product. Guess I will have to google words for some time more before I start to "bing" them.