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Keep advertising through a recession?
Morning Brew June 28, 2022

Marketing Brew


Welcome to Tuesday. Here’s a civic engagement reminder: If you live in New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Illinois, Utah, Mississippi, or South Carolina, you may be able to vote in either primary or runoff elections today.

In today’s edition:

—Alyssa Meyers, Minda Smiley


Just keep swimming

one arrow going up with a person dancing inside of it, one arrow going down with a person dancing inside of it. in the background is an air horn Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photo: Getty Images/Klaus Vedfelt

Don’t believe everything you hear. Contrary to popular belief, a pen is not actually mightier than a sword, and a watched pot will, in fact, boil.

But sometimes, there’s truth to old adages: You might have heard that brands should keep advertising through a recession. That saying is actually sound, according to marketing researchers and analysts.

“We’re going to make our recommendation on a case-by-case basis, but going dark is not a good thing,” Steve Grant, SVP of human intelligence at Horizon Media, told Marketing Brew. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” There’s another saying that definitely holds up.

Looking ahead: With a recession potentially around the corner, marketers might be wondering how to navigate their ad budgets. As Grant pointed out, the answer often depends, but generally speaking, brand consultancies and media agencies seem to be largely advising their clients to keep advertising, even if they adjust their targeting or messaging strategies.

Competitive edge

GroupM’s latest forecast predicts 8.4% growth in US ad revenue this year (with the exclusion of US political advertising) despite fears of a recession. That growth will likely be driven by industries like travel and restaurants experiencing resurgences in the wake of the pandemic, according to Kate Scott-Dawkins, global director of business intelligence at GroupM.

  • “The rate of new business formation remains incredibly robust,” added Brian Wieser, GroupM’s global president of business intelligence. “As a new business forms, it’s highly likely at this point in time they’re spending an awful lot of money on advertising and digital advertising relative to incumbents.”

Still, some brands might pull back their ad spending: Brands that are concerned about their cash flow, for instance, could see advertising as “the easiest thing to cut,” said Graeme Hutton, SVP and group partner of research at UM.

“This isn’t my first rodeo…The first thing that happens when you go into a recession is a lot of publicly traded firms cut their marketing budget,” Grant said. “It’s a bellwether.”

  • There are some signs that this process could already be underway: Microsoft recently paused TV ad campaigns.
  • While it’s true that axing advertising can be easier than shutting down a factory or getting out of a futures contract, Grant noted, that decision is not without a cost of its own. In particular, brands that “go dark” can risk ceding consumers’ “mental availability” to competitors, he said.

Rewind: Hutton pointed to a study conducted by marketing consultancy Engagement Labs after the 2008 recession that illustrated a similar point: Both financial and auto brands that made large and moderate cutbacks to ad spending saw a drop in net sentiment about their brands, while brands that maintained their spending did not.

Amar Singh, senior director at Consulting by Kantar, said his company’s research also backs this theory up. Brands that go dark can experience a “drop in awareness,” Singh told us.

Continue reading here.—AM



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Coworking with Christiana Marouchos

Christiana Marouchos in Marketing Brew's Coworking Francis Scialabba

Each Tuesday, we spotlight Marketing Brew readers in our Coworking series. If you’d like to be featured, introduce yourself here.

Christiana Marouchos is senior director of digital marketing at StackAdapt, a programmatic advertising platform, where she leads a team of 17 marketers.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in marketing? StackAdapt is an advertising software company. We provide the software to advertisers who run online ads. This includes on your laptop, your smartphone, and even your smart TV. Think of the ads you see on social networks, but for the rest of the internet. I work on our marketing team, so my entire purpose is to find ways to build the right brand presence and help those interested in StackAdapt understand what we do and the industry we work in.

Favorite project you’ve worked on? Working with our creative agency on two brand videos showcasing a new side of StackAdapt. I got the chance to really flex my creative muscle, choose outfits for actors, and script Easter-egg messages in an animated ad. It was invigorating to put a different director hat on. Instead of plan, execute, analyze, this was more like lights, camera, action!

What’s your favorite ad campaign? I love everything Disney, and the Disneyland Paris ad from 2018 of “The Little Duck” has always been a fave of mine.

One thing we can’t guess from your LinkedIn profile? So when I said I love Disney, I really meant it. The films, the songs, the animation, the fun. My LinkedIn profile shows all my past jobs and how I’ve grown in my career, but it doesn’t show where I want to be going…My dream job is to voice a Disney character! Not quite adtech, but I suppose my video ad-production experience has got me one step closer.

What marketing trend are you most optimistic about? Least? I am super optimistic about contextual advertising. I think privacy is one of the biggest challenges when discussing adtech with an audience that doesn’t fully understand what happens behind the scenes in programmatic. Cookie targeting is so contested, and I think it’s because of that misunderstanding about how it really works and what is really tracked. The prospect of contextual advertising being highly successful, incredibly targeted to the user, and yet doesn’t touch a single cookie seems like a win-win to me. Least optimistic about the decline of cookies. By the same vein, as much as I think there is incredible opportunity in cookieless targeting, I think it’s a shame that we’re doing away with cookies when they serve a purpose for many digital scenarios and may not be as harmful as many may think. Sure they’re high in sugar, but a little sugar is good sometimes.

What’s one marketing-related podcast/social account/series you’d recommend? Growth Marketing Camp by Opensense. It really dives into the industry topics that marketers actually want to hear about, and invites speakers that have the actual experience to support their subject matter expertise. I find it so valuable to hear from different perspectives on any given topic.



Rachel Dratch on SNL in an elf costume saying "Our tools are weak!" SNL/NBCUniversal via Giphy

There are a lot of tools and platforms that marketers rely on to do their jobs. Everything from the usual suspects (hi, Zoom and Slack) to CRM software, editing tools, design platforms, and more.

Next month, we’ll be taking a closer look at the various tools and resources that keep the marketing machine running day in and day out. And we want to hear from you. Click here to take our survey on the topic.


LinkedIn Ads

Storm clouds over Cannes. As marketers celebrated a return to the Cannes Lions Festival, talks of a recession loomed over the panels, speeches, and networking events. So, how are marketers planning for the possibility of an economic downturn? Find out in our latest article, sponsored by LinkedIn Ads.


French press Francis Scialabba

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

Round and round: Need a refresher on the humble carousel ad on Twitter? There’s a walkthrough for that.

Reel it in: Meta released some best practices for making more engaging Reels across its platforms.

Reminder: Starting June 30, Google will no longer allow advertisers to create or edit expanded text ads. The platform suggests switching over to responsive search ads.

No cookies, no prob: Third-party cookies, that is, because Brave is the first global digital-ad platform built for privacy. Grow your brand’s reach without leaning on third-party cookie data, all in a brand-safe, opt-in ecosystem for consumers. Start here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


Trying to accelerate your marketing career? Let’s find you your next job on the Marketing Brew Job Board!

Today’s featured openings:

See more jobs or post your job opportunities here.


  • Meta said “incorrect enforcement” is the reason why some posts and users that mentioned mailing abortion pills were removed or banned; the FDA announced in 2021 that it was permanently allowing access to abortion pills by mail.
  • NBC is still evaluating whether it will air the 2023 Golden Globe Awards after the awards show was boycotted last year.
  • MSNBC has tapped Washington journalist Alex Wagner to replace Rachel Maddow in the network’s lucrative 9pm weeknight spot four days a week.
  • American households are culling subscriptions and cutting out name-brand groceries in response to inflation.
  • Stillwell Partners has sold Advertising Week to Emerald Holding Inc.


800 5-8-8, 2-300! If you’ve ever watched TV, you’ve probably heard that catchy jingle from the carpeting and home-improvement brand Empire Today. In which local television market did the tune first debut?

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Des Moines-Ames
  3. Chicago
  4. Minneapolis-St. Paul

Keep scrolling for the answer.


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Dust off your expense reports

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3. The jingle, written by copywriter Elmer Lynn Hauldren, first aired on Chicago stations WGN and WFLD in 1977.


Written by Alyssa Meyers, Minda Smiley, and Kelsey Sutton

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