Magazine article Marketing

Below-the-Line Firms Brace Themselves for a Shake-Out

Magazine article Marketing

Below-the-Line Firms Brace Themselves for a Shake-Out

Article excerpt

As the recession strikes, agencies predict the need for self-discipline

Below-the-line firms brace themselves for a shake-out

As the much talked of "recession" bares its teeth, many below-the-line agencies are pinning hopes on the likelihood of advertising allocations going below-the-line in the second half of this year. Despite this, a shake-out of less well-run companies in the sector would now seem inevitable.

Limited reallocation of resources will undoubtedly provide some protection. "From past experience, the money tends to flow back into below-the-line more quickly than into advertising," says Kate Murphy, managing director of sales promotion agency The Line. "The usual client reaction is to put a red pen through all sales promotion and then realise a few months later, when they are losing sales and market share, that they have to turn the taps back on."

Below-the-line services are cheaper and can be activated more quickly than an advertising campaign, and, in the case of direct marketing, can be measured more easily. These are important points for a marketing director facing greater pressure to produce tangible results. "The money you spend has to be seen at least to be working that much harder," admits Andrew Turnbull, marketing manager of supermarket chain Wm Low.

Advertising has to be maintained on big brands, however, and must continue to take the lion's share of the kitty, he argues. Graham Lancaster, chairman and managing director of public relations agency Biss Lancaster agrees.

"For many large brands, television advertising is not a delete option. They have to be on the box or they face delisting by retailers."

But Lancaster warns against below-the-line agencies clinging to the prospect of above-the-line money coming to them as clients' marketing budgets are squeezed. "The correlation between the two facts is not that strong. …

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