Media Plans in the Event of War

January 23, 2003

The Question

An ANA member has been asked to provide a point of view to upper management with regard to media plans if war is declared.

  1. Is your company is going to alter national TV media plans if/when war is declared?
  2. Do you agree with the following preliminary statement this member has crafted? If you don't agree with this statement, please share an alternate approach.

"The American people have known about this "WAR" for quite some time. This will not be a shock, or a behavior changer, UNLESS there is nuclear (mass destruction) activity, attack on American soil, or attack on US leaders. At this point, it will take a catastrophic event to shake the US beyond what we are prepared for or to deviate us from functioning at a reasonable norm. It's understood that due to news programming during the announcements of war activity, advertisers will possibly loose TRPs to preemptions. War-time programming will be normally screened for its content as all other programming (any non-screenable or live in-depth news programs with questionable images will be avoided). Other than the above, no special media actions are recommended for the impending declaration of war."

1. Is your company is going to alter national TV media plans if/when war is declared?

Yes 1
No 6
Possibly or Undecided 0
Will wait and see 3
Don't know 1
No response or Not applicable 3

2. Do you agree with the preliminary statement?

Agree 11
Disagree 0
Didn't like the wording 2
No Answer 1

Feedback to the statement:

Response #1

This is too general a statement to make across all business sectors who advertise. I represent an airline advertiser, and the onset of war would cause an immediate spike in fuel prices, an immediate drop-off in travel and heightened security at added expense. Because of the economic impact, our approach to advertising would certainly be affected.

A more appropriate statement would be one that speaks in less in absolutes, and acknowledges that some advertisers may be impacted differently from others. It's probably acceptable to say that the buying and media consumption habits of most Americans will not change drastically, and that most advertisers should only have to make minimal adjustments to their media plans.

Response #2

I honestly do not know if my corporation will alter their TV media plans. When my division does advertise on TV, the thought is that new advertising will be reviewed for appropriateness of content. With respect to what was written below, I believe that the thoughts expressed in the first two sentences could be said in a much more refined way. This is a sensitive issue and this was not sensitively written.

Response #3

Actually, I talked with the head of our PR dept last week re: this issue. We would take a "wait and see" approach and determine what other adv. are doing etc. However, I don't think it would have an effect on our kid targeted adv. We could pull some adult inventory initially depending on severity of actions, etc. Overall, except for the first week of the conflict, I agree with the below statement.

Response #4

Whether or not we alter our plans ultimately depends on size and time of the possible campaign. Our plans are skewed to Primetime and will be affected by coverage. If we start to that our delivery starts to become radically effected by wartime coverage/viewing, our plans will need to be altered to compensate. We must continue to drive traffic daily, so any altering will be managed and will, hopefully, be slight. Overall, business will continue and we will need to hit our sales and GRP goals, continue to upward momentum of our business and do our part to help stabilize the national economy.

Response #5

Agree but the loss of trps due to preemptions will not happen for upfront advertisers who have contractual guarantee on delivery, in other words, will be made good with AD'S.

Response #6

I have not discussed this with (my colleague), but I don't believe we would change our media plans. If the war was here or affected US leaders directly, or if nuclear weapons were involved, my response would be different. I basically agree with the attached statement.

Response #7

Agree but will need to do a creative check of all brands on air to verify there is no potential environment conflict.

Response #8

We often pull advertising during times of crisis; we do maintain all schedules in entertainment programming. It is unlikely that we would change programming in the event of war. We also strive to support our business partners, and would not pull out of advertising completely.


"Media Plans in the Event of War." ANA Television, Radio, Print and Ad Management Committees, 01/23/03.