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Advertising in the Off Season
Everything has its season—football, weddings, awards, and if you are fortunate enough to live in the Southwest, hatch chiles. Television series are no exception to seasonality, primarily being lumped into fall and spring. Television advertising has closely followed the pattern of the seasons, with exceptional spikes leading up to and during the holiday and election seasons.
But slowly and steadily, another TV season has emerged. Summer.
Broadcast and cable networks have given substantial amounts of focus to producing highly-anticipated series during what used to be seen as a lull, or “off season,” not more than a decade ago. The effort is evident in the number of summer TV series and the viewers they attract. More than half of the top 10 shows for the week ending June 28, 2015 were summer-only series, according to Nielsen.[i] For example, during the week of June 22, “America’s Got Talent” topped the list with over 11 million viewers tuning in—an impressive audience for any season.[ii] By comparison, “The Voice,” a similarly-styled, judged talent competition show, averaged 13 million viewers per week during the spring 2015 season.[iii]
Overall viewing numbers in the fall and spring seasons exceed those during summer. However, with the ever-increasing number and variety of shows, the summer season can hardly be considered the off season any longer.
Perhaps, advertisers should look at the summer season as the season full of opportunity and potential. Because summer has traditionally been recognized as the off season, rates trend lower than other seasons, while at the same time competition is down due to the lull in summer advertising. For the same reason, slot availability trends higher, making advertising during prime time more affordable and effective.
Lower rates, less competition and increased slot availability, when combined with increased summer-only programming and stable-but-rising viewer numbers, make a compelling case for advertisers to reallocate some of their annual advertising budget to the summer season. The mixture is rich with value opportunities and expanded reach, perhaps to audiences not captured during the fall and spring. While advertisers need not reallocate and spend significant budget to initiate an effective summer ad campaign, their increased focus and attention to advertising during this time has potential to pay off in dividends.
Summer may not be the ideal time to execute major campaigns for every brand or every product. It may just be an ideal time to sustain brand awareness, customer retention, and even new customer acquisition. It is the time, like any other advertising lull, to take the long view on brand awareness to sustain brand loyalty.
When analyzing the benefits of advertising during the “off season”, consider this advertising success story from the Great Depression. During this time, companies and businesses were doing what was necessary to survive—slashing budgets. What is always the first item to get cut during budget crises? Advertising. However, there was one company that took a different tack by increasing its advertising. Unlike many companies from the period, this one survived, grew, and remains among us today. Johnson & Johnson.