Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Coronavirus: As TV remains powerful while cinemas, print and events suffer during Covid-19 in South Africa, ad agency head Chris Botha cautions against knee-jerk reaction in favour of a long term view: 'Keep spending but adapt to where you're spending it'.

by Thinus Ferreira

While TV ratings surge and television remains the most powerful advertising medium in South Africa during the global Covid-19 pandemic, cinemas, print and eventing will suffer during the country's national lockdown period although influential ad agency head Chris Botha cautions against spending less but advising clients to rather look at spending the same amount of money but to adapt where they're spending their advertising rands.

TVwithThinus spoke with ad agency boss Chris Botha, group managing director at Park Advertising, who says that says "television remains the best medium to use because people watch TV a lot and it remains the highest penetrating medium in South Africa".

"Television remains powerful. It's how you use television that people need to be a bit more adaptable about."

"How you use it will change. You might focus a bit more on entertainment programmes, or daytime television to move away from sport. Sport is under a lot of pressure with there being no live sport at the moment."

"We believe that during the Covid-19 national lockdown people are going to be watching a lot more television that what they did before. So it's just a question of  'What are they watching?' that will change and 'When are they watching?' There will be more daytime viewing, more entertainment viewing, less sport viewing, and more TV news channel viewing - those are the big changes that we'll see."

Chris Botha says that "all of the children are at home at the moment with an extended school holiday. We always see an uptick in kids viewing during the school holidays and without a doubt we will see that again during this period".

"Kids programming - a lot of parents have their kids at home during a longer time period where they didn't plan to have kids at home. Now, in order to keep those kids entertained and occupied I think television and the internet will be powerful mediums for advertisers to use."

Chris Botha says "Cinema will suffer - chains like Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro are closed".

"So cinema will take strain because in terms of release windows a lot of the good content has also been moved out to later during the year - for instance the James Bond movie has been moved out; there are a few other movies that have been moved out to a later date because they're worried about audiences".

"Similarly, the school holidays are always big for cinema because they release kids movies which now isn't happening."

"So I think the big kids movie in March was going to be Disney's Mulan and Mulan has also been moved out because of exactly this."

"Cinema will struggle. I think print will struggle as well  - a lot of people buy their newspapers in the shops. Because of Covid-19 the shops are empty, so fewer consumers are going to be buying newspapers and magazines. They're already struggling and now they're going to struggle even more."

"Outdoor isn't as directly measured so I don't think it will struggle as much," he says.

"The guys who are really going to take a hit are events. I feel deeply for event organising companies. With so many events being called off, I think event companies are going to take a lot of hits and I think we're going to see a lot of job losses and we're going to see a lot of companies close their doors."

"If they're not hosting events they're simply not making money and they're not making money at the moment."

"You need to have a long-term view," says Chris Botha. "Advertising spend is always a symptom of revenue. The more money you make, the more money you spend on advertising. I think as companies make less money they tend to look at that expense line of advertising first. So a lot of people are cutting."

"I would however like to tell people that there's a lot of research that's been proven that marketing in a recession helps a company and brand to gain market share. For you to have a big voice in your category is usually very difficult."

"However, if you do marketing during a downturn you actually gain more audience in the long run."

"My advice would be have a long term view. Let's not have a knee-jerk reaction in the short term. Keep the wheels turning. Keep going. Instead of spending less on advertising, rather look at spending the same amount of money but adapt to where you're spending it. Adaptability is absolutely key."