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Advertising Spend Open Mic Media

A guide to the brands upping their game during Covid-19 crisis


By The Drum Team, Editorial

April 9, 2020 | 5 min read

With the rise of Covid-19, everyone may be feeling there are a limited number of new business opportunities out there across the agency landscape. However, I’m here to tell you that in the finest tradition of British resilience, UK business development specialists need to ‘keep calm and carry on’. There are opportunities out there for new work if you look hard enough.

Internet ad spend to exceed 50% of all global expenditure by 2021

A guide to the brands upping their game during Covid-19 crisis

I’d like to shed a little light on what we’ve seen across the UK, share the trends we’ve been seeing at Winmo and give perspective on tips and categories that are thriving during these uncertain times. This perspective comes from working with hundreds of business development people across the UK, it also comes back from our intermediary partners.

We are seeing a lot of this in the FMCG space, especially with P&G, Mondelez and Unilever. We are also seeing a huge increase on spend across comfort foods too including brands such as Ferrero, Pizza Express, McVities and Cadbury who have dramatically increased their ad spend on video. This is because consumers are spending time at home and looking for a chance to indulge in their much loved comfort foods. Whilst luxury food items may be struggling, there is a huge opportunity for challenger brands who are providing more in demand alternatives.


In contrast to popular belief, some retailers are doing particularly well at capturing that share of voice. High street retailers are shifting their budgets from experiential and instore to ecommerce. At Winmo, we’ve seen companies including Staples throw tremendous spend into mobile advertising across social media,sponsored posts, building marketplaces in Amazon and pushing consumer demand into those channels.

Consumers are now buying from these brands as they’re now looking to upgrade that old office chair or their desk that should have been replaced many years ago.

We’ve also seen some dramatic increases in digital spend, for some brands as much as 1000% since the middle of March. Digital ad spend is a great proxy for all other formats of media and it’s a leading indicator on what’s about to happen across the broader marketing campaign. We’ve also seen all this digital activity translate into other activity, such as podcast sponsorships. Digital audio has taken a huge lift in the last two weeks where campaigns have moved from digital, sponsored content and influencer marketing uplift into more formal structures and campaigns. Retail is absolutely not dead, you just need to pay attention to those companies that are pivoting quickly moving from in store traffic and KPI’s to developing a robust ecommerce structure.

Home improvement is another big area to focus on. A lot of retailers and platform companies in this space are doing incredibly well. This also captures companies in the home cleaning and appliance space including Dyson, Robert Dyas and Homebase.

We’ve seen this supported by YouTube and 'How-To' videos where brands including Dyson have increased their spend by 89.9%. What we are also seeing in both of these categories is not just the big brands that are spending. We are starting to see newcomers arrive in this category who are clambering for this market and share of voice. In most cases, there is a greater appeal and ability to adapt as they’re smaller therefore, will have small marketing teams and will need assistance from agencies now.

Another space to focus on is hobbies, interests and entertainment. We’ve seen a huge uplift in companies like Lego, Playstation, Electronic Arts and Nintendo.

These categories have increased their spend by over 90% on digital advertising, sponsored and influencer marketing due to the fact that consumers are looking to keep themselves entertained while they stay at home.

The last category to mention is subscription and membership services, we’ve seen the rise of online classes including Peloton, Fiit TV, Mirror and other companies in the fitness space who have a huge amount of spend. Membership services that have increased their spend include Harry’s, Now TV and Disney Plus. Currently brands including, Peloton are spending 89% of their budget in the UK alone.

Overall, there’s a vast amount of opportunity across the categories I’ve mentioned and there’s time to creative find ways we can reach them. A lot of business development comes down to mindset. There are business developers out there right now thriving, it’s certainly their time to shine. What I’ve learnt in new business is that if you’re able to set those expectations, effectively you’re given the keys to the castle.

Whilst it’s a challenging time for many, for those of us working in business development we know that change often brings opportunity. Give yourself an unfair advantage over your competitors and look out for the different sales triggers that may signal potential reviews or spend increases. Some of these are close to home as we see many British brands carrying on with activity and remaining resolute.

Dave Currie is the CEO of Winmo, Catapult and The AAR (US)

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