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How coronavirus is affecting advertising and marketing industry

As authorities across the world struggle to contain the fast spreading virus, the advertising industry is closely monitoring the impact of the disease. Mark Read, CEO, WPP, tells that if it impacts the global economy, then WPP and other companies will be affected as well

The fast spreading coronavirus is taking a toll on economic activities around the world as the entire supply chain continues to be affected and major global events are either being cancelled or postponed.

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If the spread of the disease isn’t contained soon, it could even affect the advertising and marketing spends of brands.

Mark Read

Mark Read, CEO, WPP, said, “In terms of our business, it is too early to say how it is going to impact. If it affects the global economy, then WPP and other companies will be impacted.”

“Global growth will de-grow one-and-a-half per cent to one per cent in 2020 and we have to see whether that turns out to be pessimistic or optimistic as an estimate,” he adds.

James McDonald

James McDonald, Managing Editor, WARC Data, wrote in his official statement, "Advertising's relationship with GDP is strong, but slowdown in economic output as a result of the virus will not necessarily translate into reduced advertising investment."

But, tech giants like Microsoft and Apple have begun to issue warnings that coronavirus could impact their sales outlook for 2020, and Facebook on Thursday announced the cancellation of its closely watched F8 conference.

Kirin Crayons, the integrated marketing solutions provider to Chinese brands in India, in association with the International Advertising Association, organised a roundtable discussion focussed on the extent of the impact of coronavirus on the marketing and advertising spends of organisations.

In the session, Sukrit Singh, Co-Founder, Kirin Crayons, said, “Chinese brands are intrinsic to our country’s fabric. Over 8,000 executives (who had travelled for Chinese New Year) are stuck in China. This will have a domino effect not only on the brand and media industry but the economy at large.”

Alen Wang, Chairman, Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in India, a major stakeholder in Indo-China bilateral relations and trade, said, “According to estimated statistics from our chamber, till now only 2,000 people of enterprises are staying in India and the losses to Chinese companies are still increasing.”

Harris Liu, Chief Representative, CCPIT, spoke about the support extended by the Indian Government, the update on the current COVID-9 (coronavirus) situation and the near future.

Vivek Zhang, Co-Founder, Kirin Crayons, said, “This week most Chinese companies have re-started. The leader of the National Health Commission has assured us that the situation will be in full control by the end of April.”

Employees being encouraged to work from home

The coronavirus has spread to more than 70 countries. However, in countries such as China, South Korea, Singapore, Italy and Malaysia, the threat is much more. The advertising agencies have issued travel advisory for their global staff and are encouraging employees to work from home.

“At WPP we are looking at how people should travel around the world. We are working with each of our country managers on what the plan should be in the respective country campuses,” said WPP’s Read.

WPP is allowing work from home for employees if they wish to until the coronavirus is swept off completely from the affected regions. “We will also communicate with our people on ‘hygiene’ on what precautions they should take as part of their everyday life. I am sure we will see some changes in people’s behaviour over the next few weeks and months,” Read said.

Impact on global ad awards

The spread of the virus is leading to cancellation or postponement of award shows globally.

The One Show and ADC 99th Annual Awards have switched to online judging. This expanded online judging will happen this year only, with in-person judging resuming next year.

Kevin Swanepoel

“We could have replaced non-US jury members with creatives based here, but that’s not who we are,” said Kevin Swanepoel, CEO, The One Club. “The One Show and ADC Annual Awards are leading international awards programmes, and it’s imperative that we maintain the same global integrity and quality to the judging process.” 

All jury members reviewing work online this year will also be invited to return as in-person judges for next year’s One Show 2021 and the ADC 100th Annual Awards.

The Dubai Lynx Festival of Creativity has also announced that the festival will be postponed due to recent global developments surrounding the COVID-19 virus. The Dubai Lynx Festival will now take place from September 6-9, 2020.

Ian Fairservice, Vice-Chairman of Dubai Lynx, said, “In light of recent developments in respect to COVID-19, we have taken the decision to postpone the Dubai Lynx Festival. Our priority is clearly the health and safety of our attendees, delegates and team. We will reschedule the festival from March 8-11 to September 6-9 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. All entries will be valid for the new Dubai Lynx dates, along with all passes and awards seats purchased. Further information and updates on the September programme will be made shortly.”

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