In 2020, we saw an outpouring of adverts steeped in mug-hugging, sourdough-baking all-in-it-togetherness. But with a fresh crisis upon us, we want to look at how brands are taking on rising costs.
Most obviously, price and value are being placed front and centre. Take Bensons for Beds’ latest campaign, offering a good night’s sleep for just 15p a night. This time last year, they were sticking beds on the shores of Lake Buttermere, showcasing a vista of luxurious serenity.
In fact, comparing ads in today’s Metro with the Metro exactly one year ago is hugely revealing. Where 2021 McDonald’s focussed on product, championing the McMuffin (“Nuffin like it”), 2022 McDonald’s leads with “Love the taste, Love the price” alongside four cut-out vouchers. Last year is all about coming together and looking forward (the word “future” appears repeatedly), this year is all about price and bang-for-your-buck. Nestlé boasts of the “widest variety pack”, Andrex of even longer rolls.
Supermarkets in particular lead on price, Tesco saying “We want you to spend less with us” and “Take out the cost of takeout”, while ASDA pushes their new rewards app. Clearly, these retail giants know that groceries are a real pain point. As are energy bills – though the Big Six have a much finer line to tread. We note British Gas opting for a very sparse new campaign: a blue backdrop with plain text outlining their energy support package, evidently believing that practical help is a more tactful move than tricksy, brand-led marketing.
This opens the challenge for luxury brands as well. How will more aspirational vendors pitch their products? Do they hold their nerve and maintain their premium offering or accept that even the better-off might be tightening their purse strings?
We await particularly that early-November flurry of Christmas ads. Can supermarkets appealing to struggling consumers suddenly switch on the festive pyrotechnics? Are we entering an age of austere advertising?
We may not have clear answers on the energy price cap (does anyone?) but one thing’s for sure: tapping into this new reality and how audiences feel has never been more important.