Why you should continue to advertise

Mike Richards

by Mike Richards, Director, Capital City Media Limited

Investor sentiment

With only two months before the UK withdraws from the European Union, investor sentiment in the UK seems to be at a low point.  

There is nothing worse than uncertainty to make investors nervous.

In the UK any amount of reasons could be given for the skittishness we are witnessing at the moment: Brexit; US/China trade wars; Iran conflicts; the saga surrounding Woodford Investment Management.

As a country we have traditionally not been that interested in investment, with few seeing it as a necessity. Those that do are invariably driven by fear and/or greed. This is the complete opposite, where investing in the stock market is a hobby for many people  

Even in the late 80s, when we had a series of government privatisations, there was an interest, but largely people wanting to make a quick buck through their gas, water (insert your own government-owned utility here).  However, many were disappointed when they bought them easily and then struggled to find out how to sell them.  

The 2000 “ITs” campaign didn’t exactly get people flocking towards closed-end investments and the problems with the dot-com boom crashing as it did (with, coincidentally more people wanting to earn a quick buck) would have put a generation of investors off buying shares.


There seems to become light at the end of the investing tunnel, with the Pridham Report showing some UK asset managers in Q2 2019 finally had net in-flows.  A deeper dive showed that these were mainly bond funds and passive investments.


the investing man on the street needs convincing, especially during periods of geo-political uncertainty, that investment should be for the long-term as they face situations where the interest rates in banks is on a par with those under a mattress. The state won’t provide and people should be investing in their pension pots sooner rather than later, especially those who are within two decades of retirement.  Sensible equity investment could provide that pot.

But who will these people choose and why?

Don’t “go dark”

Consumers will not entrust their money with people they don’t know and, more importantly, from a marketing perspective, they will choose companies who are front of mind.  Without sounding like a mercenary media buyer, just because the investor isn’t investing money, you, the asset manager advertiser, should not stop too.  

A study from February by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), What happens if I stop advertising?, shows what happens to your brand awareness.

Six months is the key time period.   Little effect on brand awareness and propensity to buy doesn’t change that much with up to six months inactivity.  It is after this period of “going dark” when awareness levels drop away significantly; the consumer’s bond with these companies weaken.  

Two years of inactivity becomes very dangerous indeed and consideration levels plummet.  As well as brand awareness being affected, market share has a much higher risk of being damaged.  There is also a highly likely chance that reduction of budget can be relatively damaging.   Once decline sets it, it may be hard to reverse.  

Another WARC study, What we know about advertising in a recession, also shows that companies that maintained their investment generated higher growth than those who reduced budgets and can take up to five years to recover from budget cutting.

Sustaining brand awareness doesn’t have to be expensive

Many investment managers have no high street presence. Their “shops” are associations with major media or events and the intermediary channels.  

In the UK (and across the globe), the major branding medium is TV.  Whilst this reaches big numbers, it can still be audience selective given the preponderance of channels available. But the need for wealth warnings on many financial services ads is prohibitive; sponsorship is an option, but here there is no real way to elaborate on the product description.

OOH, therefore, becomes potentially the advertising medium where brand awareness maintaining and increasing becomes the most viable.  OOH research is now so sophisticated that, once the contractors know the target audience, they can identity, to the site, the most effective places to be, thus ensuring little wastage. This is helpful as the capital cost of OOH can be high, but that is only because they can reach large audiences.

A piece of research produced by Investment Trends in May 2019 showed the two media best used for researching for funds were online websites (85%) and printed publications (60%) (the next used source of research only achieved 14%).   The much-maligned print medium, whilst declining in many areas, is now showing signs of arresting – especially with older adults.   Print is still a medium where long copy of product description and benefits (as much as the FCA allows) is available and, as we’ve seen with this Investment Trends research, the information therein is highly valued.

As you’ll have read, the internet is probably the first place people go for research, not necessarily deemed as a major branding medium, unless using larger size ads for long periods of time. But the targeting can be so accurate every penny spent is accountable and therefore delivers very little wastage.  Plus it means your websites are the first point of call, so internet advertising has a logical and important use.

And even if the consumer is not necessarily the desired aim and the intermediary is, then all this still applies to B2B media; remember also, the intermediary is a consumer too, so consumer press and OOH will also be seen by them. This acts as a tool for them to sell well branded products and services.

…and finally…

As advertising guru David Ogilvy once said “engage the agency with your business issues” – we’re here to help.