With the UK in lockdown, Generation Media reflects on the conundrum that the toys and games category faces – to advertise or not to advertise. But, while the uncertainty over availability of stock or retail distribution has led to the industry being cautious with their advertising spend, the likes of games, puzzles and building sets have grown in popularity, as families look for ways to keep themselves entertained. Perhaps then there may be an opportunity to take stock during this time and showcase a different message – one that is not necessarily about selling. Generation Media explores the opportunities that may exist during these uncertain and difficult times.
Written by Kate Moncur, Associate Director, Generation Media
As UK audiences adjust to being at home, it is no surprise that viewing figures have risen over the past few weeks of lockdown. At the time of writing, the UK has just embarked on one of the warmest Easter bank holidays - but with nowhere to go, TV viewing impacts soared almost as high as those temperatures!
Usually, with warmer weather we’re greeted with declining impacts when looking at TV performance YoY. But this Easter presented some positive figures, with the long weekend delivering a 29 per cent increase in hours spent watching TV per day (BARB, 2020).
(Source: BARB, 2020)
Last month we reported on how children’s viewing figures had increased across Europe during the first few days of their lockdown’s and we are continuing to see this trend emerge. Weekday lunchtime viewing has seen the greatest increase in impacts compared with 2019, but morning/breakfast viewing has remained unaffected as children begin to rise later in the day (BARB, 2020). The increase in viewing is beginning to settle as the parental guilt takes on a role in children’s level of consumption, but the Housekeepers & Children (HKCH) viewing for all-important the daily news briefings from 10 Downing Street has also soared and brought a whole new light to the 17:00pm TV timeslot. When most of the population would still be at work, the timeslot has seen a +62 per cent surge in impacts compared with the last four weeks (BARB, 2020).
While soaring impacts would usually be music to the ears of any company currently investing in advertising, the uncertainty over availability of stock or retail distribution has led to the toys and games category being far more cautious with their advertising spend. But with NPD reports showing that sales of board games and puzzles had grown by 240 per cent, and building sets by 59 per cent, in the first week of lockdown (NPD, The Guardian, 2020), it’s clear that consumers and families are desperate for ways to keep everyone entertained during the lockdown. John Lewis has even reported that the demand for Jigsaws was higher than it had been at Christmas, which is when the annual sales would usually peak (The Guardian, 2020).
Despite some advertisers choosing to hit pause on their advertising spend, there are players who are eager to make the most of the opportunities. Nielsen has reported that over the last two weeks (30 March – 12 April), advertisers such as Hasbro, MGA, John Adams and Interplay (to name only a few) are all continuing to invest in the children’s commercial channels to support their lines and maintain a share of voice within their category.
And it is with this unique opportunity, that advertisers can take stock and showcase a different message – one that is not a hard sell, but instead focused on brand building. An example of this at its best is the most recent NHS advert; this film was originally created as a recruitment advert, but it was repurposed as a celebration and appreciation of the nation’s key workers facing the challenge of the coronavirus outbreak. At the time of writing, it now takes top position as the UK’s favourite ad (Adwatch, April 2020).
Generation Media is advising marketers to navigate through these unprecedented times and guide advertisers on how to maintain their overall brand strategies for 2020. We have also launched our Generation Academy sessions, covering a range of marketing topics from e-commerce to influencers, which are free of charge and open for marketers across the industry to join.
For more information on the Generation Academy schedule and how to sign up, please get in touch with Sofia (Sofia.Liandrakis@generationmedia.co.uk) who will provide details on how to get involved.
The next Generation Academy session will be held at 10:30am on Friday 1 May. The session is titled: If TV is dead, why does it still account for 89 per cent of children's ad spend?