What 2008 Taught Us About Advertising During Economic Turbulence

KMOV 4 Advertising About The Author

May 14, 2020 at 8:55 AM


During the 2008 recession, many businesses struggled with how to react. Businesses needed strategies that would help them continue to service customers while simultaneously protecting the business's interests, which is exactly what we’re experiencing now. Throughout the 2008 recession, businesses that continued to advertise saw immense benefits that helped them afterward. While some businesses strived to keep their doors open, other businesses were being created behind closed doors. Some of our favorite businesses--the ones that we connect with so regularly today--were founded during that time of turbulence. If the uncertainty of 2008 taught us anything, it’s that even during times of great stress, great things can still come of it.

Continuing to Advertise Proved to be Beneficial

Businesses that continued to advertise through the economic downturn saw benefits both during the turbulence and afterward. Not only did they keep up their advertising momentum throughout the crisis, but they also provided a vital frame of reference that helped customers think positively about their business as the recession came to an end. Thanks to those advertising efforts, many businesses came out successfully on the other side. Here are a few businesses that saw success from continuing to advertise:

  • Amazon sales grew by 28% in 2008 due to continued innovation throughout the recession. 
  • Dominos turned their recipes and other needs around, which increased sales substantially in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.
  • Snuggie offered a unique new product that fit the needs of customers who were eager to stay home and save money--and the brand turned into a recession hit.

Continuing to advertise and be innovative throughout the recession helped these brands not only maintain momentum but they also reached new heights. By providing products and services that people needed during those times, these businesses came out stronger and with deeper relationships with their consumers. 

Leaders in Industry Prevail

The industry leaders who continue to market their businesses are the ones that ultimately come out on top after a time of uncertainty. Consider Post and Kellogg's. During the recession of 2008, Post stopped advertising, while Kellogg's actually increased its advertising budget. As a result, Kellogg's became the leader in cereal--and launched a new cereal in the process. 

Businesses who continue to advertise at a steady rate throughout a time of economic turbulence, or who increase their ad spend during that time, will notice a positive impact: increased sales, higher performance in the industry, and a greater percentage of the market. 

New Products and Services Arise

Many amazing businesses were founded during the 2008/2009 economic crisis, some have become icons around the country. While spending in some nonessential areas may decrease during a recession, spending in other areas may increase--and savvy marketers take advantage of those opportunities. Here are some brands that began during that time:

  • Credit Karma offers free credit scores and reports and happened to be founded by Ken Lin amidst the 2008/2009 recession. This vital service has become incredibly familiar and is recommended to Americans who are hoping to grow their credit. 
  • Venmo makes bill sharing easy--and makes it easier to request money from friends. During the recession, this service was particularly vital, since friends might want to come together to share expenses or might need to help one another--and not everyone could afford to treat other members of the party. The platform, however, has continued to rise in popularity ever since, becoming a convenient way to virtually transfer funds between friends. 
  • WhatsApp launched in 2009 and has since become one of the world's most popular messaging platform, allowing for voice, video, and text communication, as well as easy document sharing between users. 
  • Groupon was founded in the middle of the 2008 recession to connect brands and businesses with their customers by offering deals. 
  • Uber was created in 2009 after two businessmen couldn’t get a taxi at night. Now, it’s proving to be extremely lucrative with its expansion Uber Eats as people are having to stay in and order delivery.
  • Slack, a popular collaboration tool, makes it easier for groups to work together--and it arose out of the 2008/2009 recession to excel in its field. It’s also experiencing an even bigger demand right now and most businesses shift to working from home.
  • St. Louis natives Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey founded Square in 2009 which started out simplifying mobile payments and handling financial transactions, but continues to grow to offer a wide range of services to business owners.
  • While one of St. Louis’ most influential organizations wasn’t founded until 2011, Arch Grants was formed during the resurgence of the St. Louis economy and now strives to help entrepreneurs. Their efforts over the years have made it possible for them to continue to support business owners and the St. Louis economy right now.

A time of economic turbulence doesn't mean that you should decrease your ad spend. In fact, continuing to advertise during times of economic turbulence can ultimately prove incredibly advantageous for your business. 

Businesses that continue to market themselves through unprecedented times often see increased profits and brand awareness when the economy starts to open back up again. When considering how to navigate this time, think of how you can best position your business to serve your community now so that you’re able to be there for them later on.