Now, more than ever, you need to quit running those recession ads.

I pay attention to ads. When I read the morning paper or one of my favorite magazines, I notice who’s running what and I thoroughly study the ads that catch my eye. For better or worse. Lately, a lot of headlines lead with the preamble: “now, more than ever…”

Now, more than ever, you need this new Ford.
Now, more than ever, you need to put your money in a little, local credit union.
Now, more than ever, you need a financial planner.
Now, more than ever, you need a vacation to warm, relaxing 5-star resort.
Now, more than ever, you need to support your local non-profit.
Now, more than ever, you need this coupon for pest control services.

Arghhhhhhh! What do carpenter ants and termites have to do with economics? Do pests eat more wood when times are tough, or do they diet? I just don’t get the connection.

Seriously. Why do so many companies want to remind us of the recession? Why would anyone want to associate their brand with lawbreaking bankers, government bail-outs and the desperate plight of laid-off workers?
It’s just not a good idea. Everyone knows about the economy, so don’t waste your ad space on the topic. Do us all a favor and delete all copy that reads like this…

“We know that times are tough right now, but”…

Not long ago I saw a full-page newspaper ad for a small local bank (that shall remain anonymous.) They used the “open letter to the community” approach. Put the bank president’s sorry-looking mug shot in the ad too.

Wow. What do you think the 10-second take-away was from that ill-conceived effort? More bad news about the economy. Local bank in dire straights. Another shady banking executive trying to sell us a bill of goods.

Nothing good can come from that knee-jerk approach to advertising. The minute you start letting circumstances beyond your control dictate your marketing messages, you’re in trouble.

Instead, stick to the message that you had developed before the bottom dropped out. If it was working then, it’ll work now. If you feel compelled to add a discount offer of some kind, fine. Do it tactfully. Don’t dwell on your motivation behind it. Don’t remind a guy that he just got laid off, and then ask him to shell out for a new pick-up truck, no matter how good the terms may be.
There was another full-page banking ad not long ago that featured a scary-looking photo of a dead tree and its root system…. “Now more than ever, you need a bank with long-standing roots in the community.”

Sometimes the best advertising strategy is to just shut up.

One company that has leveraged the economy in a reasonable way is the Korean car maker, Hyundai. Hyundai didn’t abandon their core message, they added to it.

The Hyundai Assurance program is a sincere and substantially different offer that no serious car buyer can ignore… if you lose your income, they’ll make your car payments for 3 months. Hyundai can pull it off because it fits with their brand. They’re the underdog. They have momentum right now. They can do stuff like that.

If GM tried the same thing, it’d be a disaster.

One other ad that’s worth mentioning… a small-space ad that said, simply: Now What? Great headline, and relevant question for a financial planning firm.

So now, more than ever, think twice before you start running ads that are reminders of our current misfortune.

About the Author

I’m a brand strategist, creative director, copywriter and published author living in the very livable town of Bend, Oregon. I’m also an ad agency veteran and owner of BNBranding. Read more about me »

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Elise Michaels Media Reply

Great article. I have had to steer some clients away from the “now more than ever…”, “with the economy so bad…”, “right now, you want more for your dollar…” angle of commercials. It’s like running an ad in the dead of winter and saying, “It’s winter outside…” They could be spending valuable time (radio, TV) and space (print) talking about THEM, not THAT.

I do love the Hyundai ads. So much so, that I want to buy one of their cars. Not because of the cars, but because of how the company feels about me. They want me to feel secure in an un-secure time. They care about me. It’s one of the best angles I’ve seen, by any company, in many many years.

Nick Quinata Reply

Well said. After reading your article, I immediately noticed three different commercials with the “Now more than ever” attached.


The narrator says it in the McDonalds commercial where the hipster doofus looks to buy things for a buck.

Sterling Savings Bank uses it as the tagline in their Office mockumentary send up.

And Jiffy Lube features it at the end of their radio spots.

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