Familiar Creatures

It’s Called a Recession, Not a Regression:


Why the downturn is the perfect time to level up.


Familiar Creatures | September 10, 2020



Do a favor for me. Google “advertising during a recession.” I’ll wait a few seconds. Okay, what’d you see? 100s of articles right? So why read this one? Well, none of those articles were written by actual brands themselves. They’re all by places with minimal, if any, skin in the game. Millward Brown has a POV, so does Forrester. And you can bet Harvard Business Review is all in the mix. But what about brand brands, you know, companies who actually have to make the hard decision to lay low or keep the advertising train going during dark times? It’s all #pagenotfound. 

Without a doubt, we’re a brand brand. Sure we provide advertising as a service, but Familiar Creatures is first and foremost a brand that people think about and sometimes “buy.” So what are we doing during Covidgeddon?



Putting our money/advertising where our mouth is. We’ve invested heavily in reinventing our positioning, identity, relaunching our website, building and advertising a non-profit website for our restaurant community, hiring a PAID intern, converting a permalancer to full-time, paying to promote our wares on LinkedIn and Instagram, email marketing, SEO…the whole shebang.

Is it working? Why yes it is, thanks for asking. We’ve landed three significant projects with brand brands. One said they loved our approach on social and the other two specifically mentioned our positioning as a fractional AOR as the reason they went with us. And they all realized that now’s the time to act. Not when things are “normal” again.



But if that’s not convincing enough for you, here’s some stats from those smart people places I mentioned earlier. In the 2008 recession, Millward Brown found that 60% of the brands that went ‘dark’ (no TV ad spend for 6 months) saw ‘brand use’ decrease 24%. Yikes.  And if that’s not compelling enough, heed this warning from another Harvard report,  where they say that “companies that injudiciously slash marketing spending often find that they later must spend far more than they saved in order to recover from their prolonged absence from the media landscape.”

So what happens to brands when they don’t go dark? Check out what happened in the 1990 recession. According to Forbes, when McDonalds went dark, “Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%.” I’m not a math expert, but those seem like pretty big numbers.


United States, Adspend During Covid-19

I could cite lots of other studies that show the same kind of stuff from all the recessions this country’s faced dating back to the roaring 20s, but by now you’re picking up what I’m putting down. And just to up the ante for those clutching their marketing budget harder than that old woman with her marble rye from that Seinfeld episode, it’s actually cheaper for you to advertise during a recession because ad inventory is way up due to your competition pulling out. Networks, radio, social—all the channels— lower their prices, making it even more affordable for you to get your name out there.

Yeah, so it turns out believing in and nurturing your brand during the Dickensian times we’re in now is actually the best thing you can do. You’ll increase, not lose your share of voice, you’ll boost your sales, media buying is cheaper and it’ll cost you a ton more to make up the ground you lost by keeping your budget stuck in quarantine. So pardon us while we still believe in the power of advertising and t-shirt gun our name throughout the marketingsphere. We’re just trying to do what every smart brand brand would do.