Marketing During A Recession: 6 Brand Examples & Strategies

Marketing during Recession influencers

Marketing during a recession presents its own set of challenges. Oftentimes when recessions strike, marketing budgets are cut. Ad buying, for example, is expected to drop by possibly 13%.

While some companies may lower their marketing budgets during a health and economic crisis, this pullback also creates new and unique opportunities for others.

Brands have thrived in past recessions by repositioning themselves, projecting stability, providing savings, and increasing their “share of voice” while other brands are quiet. Changing their approach in these and other ways have made it unnecessary to cut back, and have even positioned companies for success during and after the recession.

The 2020 recession hit just as yearly social media advertising spends were hitting an all-time high of $36 billion in 2019. This was quickly followed by the onset of COVID-19, which led to a 32% increase in social media usage. With this in mind, companies marketing during a recession have made social and digital media a cornerstone of their strategy.

Here are seven examples and strategies of brands investing in social media and influencer marketing campaigns to capitalize on opportunities presented by the recession.


Brands Marketing During Recession Swiffer

Swiffer Pets designed an Instagram campaign that provided savings — great for recession marketing — and amplified their brand voice. The savings came from a program they created with the Animal League to provide $50 off pet adoption feeds. The amplification happened by sponsoring a large number (40) of micro, mid-tier, macro, and mega Instagram pet influencers with over 2 million followers.

This contrasted with the company’s usual influencer marketing on Instagram, which was not focused on a specific initiative, but instead showed lifestyle shots of influencers using the products. The pet adoption campaign used a strategy that other marketers can replicate: creating a powerful, timely offer, focusing the messaging on the promotion, then working with a broad cross-section of pet influencers to target their animal-loving audiences.

Each post in the campaign included a detailed description of Swiffer’s adoption fee program, along with the hashtags #GetPetReady and #GetYourRescueOn. Images focused on pets at home with Swiffer Pet products.

Pet influencers like Harlow and Sage (1.7 million followers), Popeye the Foodie Dog (416K followers), and Lee Asher (275K followers) contributed to the campaign’s 1.5 million video views, 1 million likes, and 3.4% engagement.


Aerie TikTok Recession Marketing Campaign

Clothing brand Aerie has long worked with “real” models without airbrushing to sell their line. During the 2020 recession, the brand took the opportunity to adapt this strategy to a new platform, TikTok, which also elevates realness over perfection.

One tactic advertisers use to reach TikTok’s audience is sponsoring a dance challenge with influencers. To put their own spin on the dance challenge, TikTok commissioned a new original song and asked participants to list three positive things that they’re grateful for right now. Aerie explained, “You get to share some love, pay it forward, and have fun all in one shot.”

Before April 2020, Aerie had little presence on TikTok, but this initial campaign captured 2 billion views and helped lifestyle retailer build its TikTok follower base. Testing both a new approach and channel (in this case a dance challenge on TikTok) can be a powerful strategy to try during a recession, especially when fewer companies are competing for audiences online.

The #AerieREALPositivity campaign used a small but targeted group of official influencers and also left room for plenty of “real,” homegrown responses.

Aerie partnered with TikTok’s most popular creator, Charli D’Amelio (67 million followers), plus-size model Denise Mercedes (1.9 million followers) and body positivity advocate Iskra Lawrence (876K followers) along with environmental artist Manela Baron, paralympian Brenna Huckaby, and DJ Tiff McFierce. Though the last three were smaller influencers with less than 10K followers, their videos each received over 50K views.

Stacey McCormick, senior vice president of marketing at Aerie, told Adweek that TikTok was now a cornerstone of their marketing strategy. TikTok drove traffic to their website and other social channels and also boosted sales. Aerie reported a 75% increase in sales during Q1 2020 — a “real” recession marketing success story.


Marketing During Recession

Dollar Shave Club’s effort to amplify their brand voice with humor during the 2020 recession harks back to the viral videos that launched the brand in 2011. Marketers looking to stand out from quieter competitors during a recession can use this strategy: in-your-face content plus popular influencers to it give it greater volume.

Dollar Shave Club’s March 2020 Instagram campaign focuses on influencers and their partners, assistants, spouses, and kids encouraging audiences to get a double pack razor rather than sharing one razor — because sharing razors is gross. The campaign photos were sometimes gross as well, but others leaned on the sweeter side.

For example, the razor company tapped mega influencer David Dobrik (13 million followers) and his assistant Natalie Mariduena (4 million followers) to post a friendly shot with just a dash of snark in the caption. Dobrik and Mariduena’s followers engaged with their posts at an 13% and 18% rate respectively.

Other heavy-hitters like Savannah Rose LaBrant (6.4 million followers) went cute with a family shot and Coco Austin (3 million) went spicy with her photo with husband Ice-T.

The campaign also included mega tier meme accounts like Middle Class Fancy (1.5 million followers) and Neat Dad (1.5 million followers. In addition to racking up over 3 million likes and a 5.87% engagement, the campaign garnered press attention for it’s can’t-unsee-it depiction of razor sharing.


Influencer Marketing During Recession

When Dove Men + Care sponsored the film “Dad” in 2019 they didn’t know a downturn was coming. Yet they decided to go ahead and launch the documentary on Father’s Day 2020 with the recession still going strong.

The “Dads” film and promotion successfully leveraged a variety of influencers for their cause-based marketing campaign. The company explained, “A percentage of Dove Men+Care’s profits from the film will support our Paternity Leave Fund, raising awareness of the importance of paternity leave — and giving fathers everywhere their chance to step into the role of a lifetime from day one.”

The campaign asked 16 #DoveMenCarePartner influencers to post about their own experiences of fatherhood, along with a description of the film. Most of the influencers were micro to mid-tier. For example, Mike Quinones’s (15.1K followers) portrait holding his infant earned a 12.4% engagement rate, significantly higher than the campaign’s average of 7%.

Some of the bigger influencers included Devon from Dad ‘N Daddies with 206K followers and PJ & Thomas with 354K followers. Both saw considerable engagement, with PJ & Thomas receiving 27K likes for their post. Strong response rates such as these illustrate that the product, cause, messaging, and influencers were well-aligned.


Brands Recession Marketing TikTok

During the 2020 recession Bounty changed up it’s marketing approach with its #QuickerPikerUpper dance challenge on TikTok.

Bounty ads usually focused on parents using paper towels to clean up messes. The ads focused on the absorbency of the towels more than the people. In this campaign, Gen Z influencers wore Bounty green, did a quick dance or skit, and the paper towels played a supporting role.

Despite the shift, or maybe because of it, Bounty gained over 48 million views for the hashtag. Other brands can use this template in tackling the recession: reach new audiences on different channels with fresh creative.

Bounty chose influencers with large followings, with Addison Rae (48 million followers) leading the way with 24 million views. Savannah LaBrant (21 million followers) and Cole LaBrant (15.3 million followers) accounted for an additional 15 million views.

The challenge caught on, with over 21,000 TikTok users creating their own videos to the sponsored jingle. It shows that an established product can gain traction on a newer platform if the approach, strategy, creative and talent fit.


Gatorade marketing during recession

With its #MakeTheDaysCount campaign on Instagram and YouTube, Gatorade demonstrated that it could reposition its brand from stadiums to backyards, and still retain the core of their messaging.

The drink company has produced beautiful, star-focused ads for 50-years that inspire consumers to work up a sweat. The #MakeTheDaysCount campaign took that idea closer to home. It shows pros doing simple workouts in their bedrooms and garages that everyday folks could easily replicate. This campaign used a strategy that other marketers can repeat: adapt their usual aspirational campaign advertising for something more relevant for the times and home focused.

#MakeTheDaysCount features 40 top athletic trainers and athletes on Instagram, and 30 on YouTube. Some of the participants’ names were big, like tennis champion Serena Williams and the NFL’s Kenneth Murray. Others were strength and conditioning coaches from the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On Instagram, the videos have received over 220K views and 54K likes with an additional 24K views on YouTube, proving even the biggest brands during a recession can connect with audiences with just a backyard, ball, and camera.

Top 8 Twitch Sponsorships: Highlighting Non-Gaming Brand Sponsorships

twitch sponsorships

Twitch Streamers As Influencers: Non-Gaming Brands Are Investing In Twitch Sponsorships

Since launching in 2011, Twitch< /a> has rapidly grown to become the foremost video game livestreaming platform in the world. 2.2 million creators stream to an average of 15 million daily active users< /a> and over the past two years the gap in popularity to its closest competitor, YouTube Gaming, has widened dramatically< /a>. Though competitors such as the 21st Century Fox-backed< /a> are venturing into this expanding market, Twitch remains the business to beat.

Twitch influencers< /a> can command enormous, loyal audiences and have been shown to have a significant impact on the sales of products within the gaming industry. Top streamers have become extremely valuable assets to marketers, with Twitch sponsorships providing highly lucrative deals for top streamers, some of whom earn up to $20 million a year< /a> from various revenue streams on the platform.

twitch sponsorships

While Twitch sponsorships have typically come from within the gaming industry, the rate of the network’s growing popularity has caught the attention of non-endemic brands—that is, companies who would not typically seek to market their product in a given field. This has led the food industry to become the most active category< /a> of Twitch sponsorship this year and the likes of KFC< /a> to snap up the platform’s top streamers.

The opportunity for non-endemic brands to be successful with Twitch sponsorship is more apparent than ever. With the platform’s consumers receptive to advertising< /a> and its biggest ambassador, mega-influencer< /a> Ninja welcoming collaborative sponsorships< /a>, it is no surprise that industries outside gaming sought representation not just at TwitchCon 2018, but beyond it as well.

Below we feature a selection of the best non-endemic Twitch sponsorships.

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When Brands Sue Influencers: An Industry Wake-Up Call

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Investigating Influencer Lawsuits & The Industry’s Growing Pains

Influencer marketing is a growing industry, with predictions that it will become a $5-$10 billion dollar market over the next 5 years. As with any rapidly growing industry, influencer marketing has endured a few teething problems, such as FTC violations and contract breaches, as people try to navigate the legalities. Over the last 18 months, there has been a spate of influencer lawsuits, too.

The FTC has made their position on deceptive influencer actions known. Influencers, marketers, and brands are now privy to the FTC expectations, regulations, and contract guidelines. However, there are still influencers and brands who try to skirt the FTC requirements.

The stakes are high. With large sums of money on the line for brands, they–and the FTC–aren’t letting influencers off easy. Macro-influencers often receive more than $50,000 for a single post, so it is vital that influencers play by the rules. When brands pay for a service, they expect influencers to do the work for which they have been paid. It should not be any surprise to see brands actively pursuing cases of influencer contract violation.

Related Post: What Constitutes An Influencer?: Definition, Qualities, & Tiers
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5 Biggest Takeaways From TwitchCon 2018 (Plus Exclusive Twitch Streamer Comments)

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TwitchCon 2018 Recap & Highlights

  • Twitch Sings allows concurrent viewers to broadcast karaoke performances on Twitch.
  • Notable gaming and non-gaming brands showcased unique activations.
  • Esports commanded a huge presence with three gaming tournaments.
  • Twitch announced new and improved Twitch features Squad Stream, Highlight Editor, and moderation tools.
  • TwitchCon turnout reached 30,000 attendees, most of whom were young males.

On the weekend of October the 26th, the San Jose Convention Center hosted TwitchCon 2018. For three full days, the livestreaming giant invited the most popular gamers, artists, and brands to share their expertise and experience. Attendees also had a chance to get a first look at new games and Twitch developments, plus valuable networking opportunities.

While the platform is hugely influential in the video game niche, generating a quarter of one game’s total sales, Twitch influencer marketing extends beyond just gaming. Twitch users are receptive to sponsored ads from brands of all kinds, meaning it’s a level playing field for non-endemic, or non-gaming, brands. Several popular non-endemic brands have taken advantage of Twitch influencer partnerships, including Hershey’s, Doritos, Monster Energy, Nissin, and more.

Below we’ve detailed the five most important things marketers need to know about the newest games, biggest trends, and most exciting developments from TwitchCon 2018.

Related Post: Hershey’s & Reese’s Mashup With Ninja & Dr. Lupo

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Types of Influencer Marketing Campaigns Marketers Should Know

types of influencer marketing campaigns

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Influencer Marketing Campaigns: Types, Tactics, & Techniques

If influencer marketing were a climber, it would hold the record for fastest ascent up Mount Everest. As an industry, influencer marketing will be a $5-10 billion market by 2020. Around 70% of U.S. agency and brand marketers agree that influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2018. The exponential growth explains why influencer marketing was dubbed the fastest growing online customer acquisition method in 2017.

As more marketers hop aboard the influencer marketing train, many are increasingly overwhelmed with options. Aside from the most basic questions of “How do I find influencers?” or “How much should I spend on influencer marketing?,” marketers want to know “What are the different types of different influencer marketing campaigns I can run?

Separating influencer marketing campaigns into different buckets is tricky. As both brands and influencers strive for more subtle, authentic sponsorships, the line is blurred between these campaign “types.” However, understanding these general categories will help marketers understand the various approaches that they can employ in an influencer marketing strategy.

Related Post: Best Influencer Marketing Examples To See
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What Is Earned Media Value?

what is earned media

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Earned Media Value (EMV): What It Is, Why It’s Important, How To Measure It

Earned media refers to any type of social media exposure gained through word-of-mouth, recommendations, or conversations about the brand. This form of media includes user-generated content, reviews, brand mentions, or any other form of content that is shared by social media users in relation to a brand.

Although typically acquired through paid and owned channels, earned media functions as an uncontrolled media, or only partially controlled with a comprehensive marketing strategy. For example, Target featured an Instagram image of two young girls happily styled in Target clothing that had originally been shared by the mother. Since the post was not sponsored by Target, it represents an off-the-cuff method in which the brand monitors for positive brand experiences to then feature and amplify on its own accounts. Yet, the uncontrollable aspects of earned media haven’t stopped brands or marketers from attempting to measure its value.


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More recently, brands have turned to influencer marketing, a form of both paid and earned media, as authentic recommendations and branded shares from a trusted person are much more appealing to Millennial consumers than ads. Nielsen reported 83% of global respondents trust recommendations from people they know, while 66% trust consumer opinions online. Thus, brands have unleashed the power of influencers upon their impressionable audiences. But measuring the ROI of both this tactic and earned media has brought an onslaught of confusion. Continue reading “What Is Earned Media Value?”