Survey: Covid-19 global response (April 2020)

Survey: Covid-19 global response (April 2020)

Marketing Organisation & Strategy
2 minute read

The second wave of research gathered input from senior multinational marketers on how they are reacting to the global Covid-19 epidemic.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


Benchmarks & surveys
13 May 2020

WFA members can download the full survey results here.
Non-members can download a summary version of the results here.

This second wave of research builds on WFA's first survey in March by again asking senior multinational marketers on their continued responses to the global Covid-19 epidemic. The survey was conducted in the last full week of April and attracted responses from senior marketers in 38 companies across 17 sectors with a total annual global spend of $46 billion. Sixty-one percent of respondents held global positions with 39% in regional roles.

Fifty-two percent of large multinationals surveyed will now hold back ad spend for six months or more, compared to just 19% taking similar medium-term action in March.

While 68% have some kind of crisis response campaign now running (up from 32% in March), this activity will not compensate for the cuts to other campaigns. Global ad budgets are now expected to be down 36% in the first half of the year (up from 23% in Wave I) and 31% for the full year.

While 62% of respondents agree that it’s critical for brands not “to go dark” during the crisis, they are still making dramatic cuts to spend overall. The squeeze is being felt hard by TV, traditionally the biggest media channel and expected to be down 33% globally across the first half of the year, although print (down 37%), out of home (down 49%) and events (down 56%) are suffering more.

Digital is boosting its share of ad spend by virtue of the fact that spend falls in this area are less dramatic, with online video down 7% and online display down 14%. Other channels such as Radio (-25%), Point of Sale (-23%) and Influencer (-22%) are expected to experience significant cuts.

Ninety-two per cent agree that this crisis will have a long-term impact on the way they operate and 84% agree that this is an opportunity to ‘rethink everything in terms of our marketing organisation’, with the same number saying it has already accelerated digital transformation.

Key Take-outs
• Almost 8 in 10 have deferred their campaigns as a result of the crisis; 52% of those by 6 months or more (up from 19% in March).
• However 68% already have ‘response’ campaigns live (up from 32% in March).
• Global average* budgets down 36% first half 2020, 31% full year 2020.
• All channel investment down; TV by 31%, smallest declines seen in digital, notably online video (-7%) and online display (-14%).
• 73% agree brand owners need to find ways to support agencies during this crisis.
• 81% agree ‘The crisis has proven that brands have an important role to play in wider society’.
• The crisis is seen as ‘an opportunity to rethink our marketing organisation’ by 84%.

WFA members can download the full survey results here.
Non-members can download a summary version of the results here.

For more information, please contact and also view WFA's Covid Compendium.

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