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CREATIVE STRATEGY: eBay reminds us there can be winners in a recession

Austerity. A word to send a chill down the spines of marketers. According to one commentator, we are still living in what's called "the lipstick economy".

eBay: running a two-pronged strategy

eBay: running a two-pronged strategy

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As the recession grinds on, some consumers are still foregoing big-ticket items for small treats.

However, as your grandmother said, every cloud has a silver lining.  And the continuing tough climate may even present some advertisers with an opportunity.

EBay seems to think so. Judging from what your reviewer has seen, eBay is currently running a two-pronged strategy.

One part is a series of print executions for the campaign – "Buy the things you want with the stuff you don’t."

So for example, we have a brand new shirt and the label inside the collar says, "THE BREAD MAKER THAT NEVER MADE IT OUT OF THE BOX".

A simple thought, simply executed. And while some people may be suffering during the double (or is it triple?) dip recession, eBay has splashed out on some full-colour, full-page ads. Nice. 

The second part of the strategy promotes the Ebay mobile app. It’s mentioned in the press ads, but it’s the hero on 48-sheets.

Each poster has a smart-phone front and centre displaying the desirable items – with a background providing the context for the purchase.

So one headline says: "The perfect coat for the perfect storm". A selection of colourful, desirable jackets shown on the screen of the phone contrast neatly with the rainswept scene behind it.

It’s an advertising idea rather than a reflection of the real purchase process, but at least it’s written and art directed with some charm and wit. 

For cash-strapped consumers, one could argue that eBay is performing a public service – de-clutter your life and get something you want without forking out money you don’t have.

Even so, let’s hope the recession-driven strategy becomes inappropriate sooner rather than later.

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones

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