What does "crunch time" actually mean?

Benno Maggi explains in his column "What does... actually mean?" terms from the field of marketing and communication. This time he shares his thoughts on the term "crunch time", and shows what American football has to do with advertising.

The term "crunch time" comes from American football. In this country, it's a marginal sport, but in the country whose name defines the sport, it's the sport par excellence. Compressed into 18 weeks plus playoffs leading up to the finale, the Super Bowl in early February, cable in households there runs hot weekend after weekend. "Crunch time, so to speak.

"Crunch time" loosely translated means nothing other than "when it counts" or, in new German, "when it cracks. In American football, this is when the massive bodies collide, the closer to the opponent's baseline or at the end of the game, the more violent. Whoever then hits the right passes despite being in trouble, or goes the distance and catches the balls that come flying at them like bullets, wins. But what does that have to do with advertising?

The Super Bowl of the industry

Because it's crunch time. The diamond, toy, tea and other industries have known this for a long time: sales bob along until they shoot up the charts as a field hockey stick in the double-digit months, the legendary Q4, instead of being spread out continuously or in waves over the year. This is the time when it really matters and no mistakes can be made.

This is rather new for the advertising and communications industry. Of course, budgets used to be squandered at the end of the year so that the marketing departments would not be cut by the CFO, but that is not what is meant here. Rather, with the expiration of the short-time work compensation, from which our industry also profited strongly, and the simultaneously decreasing marketing budgets for the new year, a real challenge lies ahead.

Both agencies and their employees must accept these. On the one hand, the employer is crunching numbers and asking questions about the need for and amount of office space, FTE, and expenses. On the other hand, employee questions tend to be about meaning, fulfillment and appreciation in the current job. "What matters?" is then the key question on both sides. Instead of answering with "It depends", as is popular among lawyers and marketers, it is better to act correctly, because: It depends! This is the only way to avoid a shambles at the Super Bowl at the end of January.


Benno Maggi is co-founder and CEO of Partner & Partner. He has been eavesdropping on the industry for over 30 years, discovering words and terms for us that can either be used for small talk, pomposity, excitement, playing Scrabble or just because.

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