Confusion, fear and apprehensions continued to dominate the Nigerian brand management and advertising sector over possible fall-outs of COVID-19 global pandemic as brands communication specialists have disagreed over the suspension or cancelling of earlier planned brands advertising campaigns.
Specifically, brand communication specialists, advertising and media icons have counseled brand owners not to surrender to fear and panic induced by the current lack-luster activities and lull in the national economy, stating that submitting to those tendencies would weaken their brand equity status and pulls the rug off the feet of their brands in the market place.
It will be recalled that the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a general lockdown in most countries and cities of the world with a view to ensuring that efforts aimed at containing further spread of coronavirus amongst the people achieve desired result.
The lockdown, which high-point was the “stay at home” campaign, has crippled business and marketing activities as consumers are now restricted to their immediate localities with opportunity to be engaged in very few essential tasks.
Sequel to this, some notable brands with remarkable pedigree in high volume advertising spend, have suspended their brands advertising campaigns, hinging the reason for the action on the need to pay more attention to supporting campaign for the fight against further spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Some of these brands have since donated hugely to the federal, state and local governments as well as spear-headed distribution of brands and products to the people as economic relief packages.
However, a cross section of brands communication and media specialists have advised that it will be ill-fated for brand owners to completely suspend or stop their brands advertising campaign at this critical time, as such would give competitors the opportunity to launch awareness campaign which would endear them to the target audience through top-of-the-mind.
Speaking on the implication of such an action, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, Mr. Steve Babaeko said: “Brand owners who stop their brands advertising campaign would later wake up to discover that competitors have taken over their earlier leadership position through top of the mind,” describing the move as “penny wise, pound foolish”.
According to him, this period is the time that brands should be more active in their communication with the target audience. He stated that the difficult times currently being encountered by the brands and the people of the world would not last forever, adding that “every brand will still come back to the market to compete”.
In the same vein, Mr. Ozone Mbanefo, Chief Executive Officer of O2Academy said it was strategically unwise for brand owners to suspend their brands advertising campaigns but instead should intensify efforts in empathising with consumers on the situation and circumstance in the face of COVID-19 through the right messages and communications.
His words: “While I commend the brands for supporting plans aimed at curtailing the further spread of coronavirus, I won’t advise brands to shut down completely.”
Also sharing a similar view, the Managing Director of Media Seal, a media buying and planning agency in Nigeria, Mr. Oluwafemi Adeniba is of the view that going off the air for brands advertising campaign will be injurious to the health of the brands as well as its bond with the consumers. He also stated further that stopping brands advertising campaign “will likely damage brands’ market share due to a reduction in share of voice”.
Arguing further, Adeniba said: “Once brand equity and share of voice have declined, it can be hard to get them back up to previous levels. So, the best way to ensure long term brand growth is to maintain ad spend.”