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?