World Federation of Advertisers: 80% of global brands are deferring campaigns

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 7 April 2020

The world’s biggest advertisers have been quick to cut spend in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, according to research by World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). 

Four out of five (81%) marketers from major multinationals say they are deferring campaigns.

However, at the same time 79% of the brands are creating new messages to respond directly to the huge impact of the crisis.

Half of these new messages have already started running or are about to go live and another 29% plan to start creating new messages soon.

The WFA says one-third (34%) have pulled back from campaigns for one to two months, 28% are holding off for a full quarter and 13% will wait six months before going back to market.

More than half (57%) say they are cutting marketing spend and 32% say there's no change.

The research, covering some of the world’s largest advertisers, shows average media spend cuts are expected to be around 23%.

The numbers are significant because they come direct from advertisers. Analysts, in trying to forecast for the June quarter, all point to the unprecedented nature of the crisis making it difficult to even see just a few weeks ahead. 

Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA, says brands are mobilising with empathy on a scale not seen before.

“Brands around the world are adopting very human, often brave, approaches to supporting society at a time of dire need,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA.

“Critically, many are equally showing solidarity to their agencies and partners understanding that their supply chains need their support now more than ever.”

The WFA surveyed 32 member companies with a collective annual marketing spend of nearly $US60 billion across ten industry sectors. The data was collected March 25-30.

In a separate poll of 58 media leaders during a WFA member webinar on March 31, respondents anticipated an average reduction in media budgets of 23%. And 21% predicted cuts of 40% or more.

wfa media spend april 2020

The survey also finds that marketers have been mindful of the impact of the cut in spend on their industry partners. 80% have already “provided guidance to industry partners” relating to this and how they plan to operate in the short-term.

Anecdotal responses to the survey indicate a notable focus on “zero-based thinking”, with members looking to be useful to their people, customers and partners in the short term, whilst planning effectively for the longer term.

The WFA has been building a Covid Compendium, an open source platform for the industry to share campaigns and actions that can inspire others. 

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