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Marketing Organisation & Strategy

Eighty Percent of Multinationals deferring campaigns, but the same number are creating new content in response to the Covid-19 crisis

WFA compendium collates best-practice examples of how marketing teams are developing campaigns in response to the crisis

Four out of five (81%) marketers from major multinationals say they are deferring planned campaigns as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, according to new research conducted last week by the WFA.

A third (34%) have initiated short one- to two-month delays, 28% are holding off for a full quarter and 13% will wait for six months before bringing campaigns back to market.

However, at the same time 79% are creating new messages that respond directly to the huge impact of the crisis on the people who use their products and services. Fifty percent of these new messages have already started running or are about to go live and a further 29% plan to start creating new messages soon.

The net result of these changes, however, is a drop in annual marketing budgets with 57% of respondents saying they are cutting spend and 32% showing no change.

The numbers are based on a survey of 32 WFA member companies with a collective annual marketing spend of nearly $60bn across 10 industry sectors. The data was collected between March 25th and 30th. Sixty-nine percent of respondents had global responsibilities with 31% in regional roles.

In a separate poll of 58 media leaders conducted during a WFA member webinar on 31st March, respondents anticipated an average reduction in media budgets of 23%. Twenty-one percent of the sample predicted cuts of 40% or more.

The survey also finds that marketers have been mindful of the impact of the cut in spend on their industry partners. Eighty percent 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.

Reflecting the move by brands to respond to the Coronavirus crisis, the WFA has been building a “Covid Compendium”, an open source platform for the industry to share campaigns and actions that can inspire others. The site is now live at

“Despite the huge constraints on our members’ businesses, I believe we are witnessing brands mobilising with empathy and utility on a scale hitherto unseen. Brands around the world are adopting very human, often brave, approaches to supporting society at a time of dire need. Critically, many are equally showing solidarity to their agencies and partners understanding that their supply chains need their support now more than ever,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA.

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