A look at the COVID-19 impact on Television Advertising


The Canadian Television Advertising Landscape Before and After the COVID-19 Shutdown


Adease Media Intelligence has probed the impact of COVID-19 within the Canadian Television Advertising landscape by analyzing the periods beginning March 9 through May 10 2020.

Unsurprisingly, our review revealed a massive change in the Canadian Television Advertisement landscape.  

We’ll take you through it.




Changes in category behaviours are indicative of the times


The major advertising categories that saw a significant decrease in volume during the period of our review were Travel Services, Telecommunication, Automotive and Furniture Retailers.


Between March 9th and April 13th, as expected, Travel Services advertising was most impacted, with a 96% drop in activity.  


Indeed, The #1 online travel service advertiser,, stopped advertising completely.  


And during the week ending May 10th, Travel Advertising has seen no recovery whatsoever.



Furniture Retailers decreased their advertising activity by  a whopping 75% between March 9th and April 13th.


but by the week ending May 10th,  Leons , The Brick, Structube and Ikea were leading the pack out of the category’s roller coaster response to the COVID crisis,



Until COVID-19, Automotive has been a consistent major TV Advertising category   

On the Corporate side of the automotive fence, we saw a 40% decline in TV Advertising during the first month of the COVID crisis. 

But, While GM, Ford and Lexus virtually stopped advertising;


Huyndai, and Honda brands increased advertising exponentially and Mazda increased their effort by 20% as an initial response to the COVID crisis.

Honda highlighted their donation of funds and PPE to Hospitals and Food Banks and they also promoted Social Distance and lease or finance payment flexibility. 

Mazda encouraged consumers to let the roads rest for now and make the most of them when we return.  

But in the week ending May 10th, Kia took the lead with a powerful message of togetherness.

On the tactical side of Automotive we saw much of the same   

Automotive Dealers Association Group advertising collectively saw a 60% drop in activity. 

At the end of March and into April, Jeep and Ford Dealers Association Group maintained their advertising efforts with Fords’ focus on their 6 months payment relief offering; of deferring 3 payments and having 3 payments on them.


But in May, it is Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Dealers Association Group who is bucking the trend, and increasing their advertising activity placing them #1 in their category during the week ending May 10th. 


Restaurants focused their advertising effort on delivery services

The overall drop in Restaurants advertising activity on Canadian Television was only 24% between the weeks of March 9th and the week of April 13th. 


And while between those periods there was a spike in advertising activity for some.


It is still McDonald’s and Tim Hortons holding number 1 and 2 spots in May.



Some advertising categories have been showing an increase in TV Advertising throughout the COVID-19 crisis

Many Grocery Retailers increased their advertising exponentially.



The messages from all, were primarily COVID-19 related. 

IGA thanked the workers; Walmart’s message was continued low price and donations, while Save-On-Food stressed their efforts to ensure consumer and staff safety.


Most of the major Canadian Banks increased their TV Advertising.

In April, CIBC showed the greatest advertising increase of all the banks.  In one spot, the President & CEO gave a personal message of support about the pandemic.


TD was the most active bank advertiser on TV; using their signature green chair as a chair in all our homes.

And BMO was the second most active bank advertiser; their COVID-19 ads, thanked all the essential workers during the pandemic. 


TD has continued to lead in May while Scotiabank has picked up its advertising pace.  The chart evidences the varied approach to the crisis taken by the major advertising Banking Brands throughout the period.  



Overall the Retail category showed a jump.

Contributing to this increase was, Canadian Tire up astronomically, Bathway up 168% and The Source who had no activity in the week of March 9th.


Hudson's Bay Department Store cut their activity.  Their COVID-19 campaign focused on their donation of $1M to Food Banks and Kids' Help Phones during the pandemic.  


Wayfair, the online retailer, had a message focusing on our home as our office, school and playground.


Pharmaceutical Retailers 


Familiprix came alive, focusing on their online services and free delivery.

Pharmasave showed the second largest increase in their TV Advertising activity.


Uniprix increased their activity during this week, with a focus on online services.


Jean Coutu increased their activity and also promoted home delivery along with online prescription renewal.


But in May, it was London Drugs that had the biggest jump in TV advertising while Uniprix went quiet.





There is no doubt that brands are currently in uncharted territory in responding to COVID-19. 


Society drew a line between essential and accessible and non-essential and shuttered.


As a consequence, the Advertisers’ responses have broadly fallen into three categories:





As the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread, most Advertisers, who continued to market on TV, adopted similar messaging that directly addressed the crisis.


Advertisers focused on: praising essential workers;  delivery capabilities; encouraging consumers to social distance; thanking their own workers; and encouraging Canadians to stay home; thereby creating comforting messaging designed to make people feel supported.


As the new normal unfolds, the messaging continues to be of support, but with a more upbeat sentiment.


While it is unclear what the future holds for advertising; what appears undeniable is that consumers have been at home, more than ever before,  spending increased hours absorbing linear TV.




This  Advertising Intelligence is published by Adease Media Intelligence. The data used in this document is collected using the Adease Media Monitoring Technology, Methodology and Market Coverage.


We can keep you informed of TV & Radio Advertising trends, and the changes in the Share of Ad Activity in the TV Advertising arena, as and when they happen, in real-time.


Contact us to receive up to date reports, charts and actual creatives on TV Advertising during this or any other time. 


Published by Adease Media Intelligence

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