CMOs of Companies Like IBM, PepsiCo and LVMH Join Forces on Coronavirus Threat, as Ad Industry Braces for Slump Over Pandemic

All those ads and nobody to look at them. The ad industry is
bracing for a decline in 2020 revenue due to coronavirus.

It's not only the airlines, hotels, retailers and restaurants that are getting hammered by coronavirus — advertising, like those industries that feed it, are also feeling the pain. The ad-buying giant Magna, which prior to the pandemic had projected ad revenue to grow 6.6% this year, has adjusted its forecast to reflect a 2.8% decline in revenue, as the Journal reports. Meanwhile, as Variety reported, Google and Facebook alone stand to lose more than a combined $44 billion in ad revenue this year due to coronavirus.

A Magna executive characterized the current situation as unprecedented for the marketing community, commenting that the closest equivalent would be a combination of the Great Recession and 9/11.

In an example of brands doing good during the crisis, the marketing chiefs of nearly two dozen of the world's top corporations, including McDonald's, Shell, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Target, IBM, Tencent and LVMH, to join together under the auspices of the Association of National Advertisers to help the marketing community address the fallout. The execs are all members of the ANA's Global CMO Growth Council, which the ANA founded and which it jointly operates with the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The council is focused on brand experience and innovation, according to the ANA — two areas that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Among the immediate goals of the group, which has been labeled the Global CMO Leadership Coalition on COVID-19, are identifying the most pressing issues faced by marketers, to help them make the best decisions; share their collective experiences with one another; and identify trusted sources of information marketers can turn to for support. The group launched last week with a virtual meeting attended by execs from the U.S., U.K., France, Switzerland and China.

COVID-19 and its effects may be unprecedented in our time, but pandemics and reactions to them are not unprecedented. Time magazine remembers newspaper ads from a century ago, during the Spanish Flu of 1918, urging citizens to wash their hands thoroughly and wear protective masks.

Time noted the many businesses at the time that sought to take advantage of the global panic, taking out ads to promote supposed flu remedies ranging from malted milk to massage therapy.

If only three dozen cans of tuna and a year's supply of toilet paper could do us some actual good.

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