SOV, SOM and the value of creativity

Richard Parker
By Richard Parker | 25 June 2020

Richard Parker is executive planning director at Edge.

As the direct effects of the pandemic start to fade (if you’re anything like us, the ‘dark days’ of full lockdown, home schooling, Zoom beers etc feel like a distant memory) focus is switching to the ensuing recession. Now, whilst there is a lot of pessimism out there around the economy, analysis of economic performance following most previous pandemics (Spanish Flu, Asian Flu, Hong Kong Flu, SARS) shows that economies tend to bounce back fairly quickly – with all showing V-shaped recoveries. So there IS reason to be optimistic. But at the same time, we are in a recession, and we should be thinking, as marketers, about how we navigate that. 

It’s a bit of a marketing shibboleth that brands need a share of voice (SOV) in excess of their share of market in order to grow. It’s been proven time and time again. 

And according to the IPA, increasing share of voice relative to share of market through a recession has a minor impact on a business’s return on capital investment (ROCE) during the recession, but a huge impact on profit recovery post-recession. Which basically means that smart CEOs will continue to invest in marketing throughout the recession – at a minimum maintaining their pre-recession SOV. 

But this is obviously a challenge. The evidence doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for marketers to fight to hold onto their marketing budgets when cost-cutting elsewhere means their colleagues are struggling to hold onto their jobs and income. So the reality is most marketers will have to try to do more (or at least as much) – ie maintain SOV – with less.  

There are a couple of things that can help marketers here.  

Media bang for buck 
Firstly, audiences around most media channels are up – from TV to radio – and yet there are some sweet deals to be had out there because demand for media has fallen. Ergo marketers, if they shop around sensibly, should be able to get more bang for their media buck.   

Value of creativity 
Secondly, it strikes me that this is where the value of creativity comes in. And no, I’m not talking about making really expensive ads (although what kind of ads we make is important – there is evidence that tactical Covid comms have performed less well than simply continuing to run ads with strong brand building characteristics). No, I’m talking about creativity in the way we approach the SOV problem. I’m talking about creativity in driving SOV over and above the straight-forward paid media equation. We should be thinking about campaigns that can drive huge amounts of earned media. Ideas that are incredibly sharable. Ideas that get people talking. Ideas that tap into cultural moments and identity. Think (and apologies for the obvious references) Nike and Colin Kaepernick, or Tourism and Events Queensland's ‘Greatest Job In The World’. Or anything by Burger King.

This of course presents a whole different problem, which is around consistency of measuring SOV - but that's for another day. 

So it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact we have reason to be optimistic – but let’s keep our collective eyes on the ball (as an industry), apply the creativity that we are famous for, and keep the economy moving! 

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