Campaign budgets slashed by up to 75% during pandemic

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 17 June 2020

Campaign budgets during the coronavirus pandemic have been slashed by up to 75%, it has been revealed by a new global study into the early impact of COVID-19 on the marketing industry.

The Canary Report, published by market research platform Glow and strategy specialists Planning Dirty, breaks down how budgets, campaign activity and new business pitches have been affected across over 35 categories to give agencies and marketers a real-time view of how the pandemic is impacting their industry.

"The study gives a unique snapshot of how different categories have responded to the crisis in terms of campaign budgets and activity, but also crucially reveals which areas new business is coming from and, therefore, where some optimistic green shoots are starting to emerge," Glow CEO Tim Clover says.

According to the study, which represents 110,000 employees in planning and strategy roles across the world, budgets have fallen 25% on average, with campaign activity contracting by 11% and pitch activity down 15%.

Sectors facing the harshest cuts are those relating to human movement, socialising and entertainment, with significant reductions in tourism (-75%) and hospitality (-42%), while campaign budgets in auto have been slashed by half.

Respondents stated a move towards more digital activity, tactics over strategy, and less up-front media buying and more flexible options.

According to the research, which was conducted last month, it isn't all doom and gloom with many agencies actually pitching more.

"While the focus of activity appears to be more tactical than strategic, those working in food and drink, government, finance and retail are starting to see more new business opportunities, which is great news," Clover says.

The study also shows that those sectors put into deep freeze during the lockdown are now starting to pick up again as restrictions are cautiously being lifted worldwide.

"This report is the canary down the mine for the marketing and advertising industry. Its primary aim is to provide a useful benchmark for brands and agencies as the world comes out of lockdown and back to work," Planning Dirty Julian Cole says. 

"Marketers large and small now have a reliable barometer to help them forecast within the categories they operate, and to better understand how their business is performing compared with industry 'norms' in these abnormal times."

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