The coronavirus pandemic brings uncertainty to the advertising business as much as anywhere else, but GroupM's Brian Wieser sees it as a chance for marketers to take action versus relying on slogans.
"Every brand should be trying to figure out how they could be helpful," Wieser said on the Digiday Podcast. He pointed to GM's exploration of its capacity to build much-needed medical equipment and luxury brand LVMH's pivot to manufacturing hand sanitizer for hospitals. Or think back to the financial crisis, when Hyundai rolled out the "Hyundai Assurance" program that delayed car payments for those in a tight spot.
If companies act uprightly and "want to talk about it and publicize it, they're going to benefit from it from a goodwill perspective, from governments, from society, from consumers -- whether they're in the market or not," Wieser added.
Wieser, the global president of business intelligence at GroupM, also sees in China a potential bellwether for the advertising industry's looming challenges around the world -- and the best case scenario for how this unfolds in Western economies.
Fourth quarter earnings -- and guidance about expectations for 2020's first quarter -- by Chinese giants like Alibaba, Baidu and Weibo help with the math.
The upshot from those companies was a "20 to 30% decline in the relevant advertising-related line," Wieser said. And because January was a mostly normal month, one can attribute that expected slide to just the two following months. That said, China is showing signs of getting its economy back on track after its remarkable success in combatting the virus.
Wieser joined the Digiday Podcast to discuss the three representative countries to model expectations on, why television will probably do better ("or at least less bad") than other media and the big opportunity for businesses of all types to generate goodwill in the midst of crisis.