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Be good and don't cut budgets

Building brands and doing good aren't mutually exclusive as several recent recessionary campaigns show

By creative salon

Older readers may (possibly) remember that, back in the dog days of the 2009 financial crisis, the IPA warned against brands cutting marketing spend and diverting savings towards price promotions as it would diminish brand loyalty. Fast forward 13 years, and as the country lurches into a cost of living crisis, it's having to say the same thing all over again.

While crises seem to come round with depressing regularity, advertising and marketing strategies today have become so much more elegant beyond slapping crude "prices slashed" stickers on products and running BOGOFs. It’s about making that genuine connection with the customer beyond interest in a product or service.

As Chaka Sobhani, the global chief creative officer of Leo Burnett tells Claire Beale in our interview (below): "creativity.... has to be a true reflection of how people are living their lives". And it's been heartening to see so many examples of it doing just that, far beyond the easy-win but tiresomely predictable purpose-led marketing.

Witness, for instance, how Lucky Generals has promoted the Co-op's Community Fridges where surplus food is shared for free, bringing people together to eat, connect, learn new skills and reduce food waste. British Gas, which operates in one of the sectors most adversely affected by the current crisis, has also recently run a campaign through WPP's Nucleus to promote the British Gas Energy Trust – an independent charitable organisation to support those facing financial hardship and energy debt. And this week the fitness brand Gymshark has partnered with mental health charity Calm to open the ‘Deload’ barber shop to encourage men to share their feelings in an environment where they're more likely to feel comfortable to do so.

All of these initiatives are examples of brands showing up where (and how) people are living their lives and trying to actively help them. Equally, they are also helping to build the brands themselves. So while the message from the IPA might not have changed much, the response to it has at least improved.


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