What Agencies in the COVID Era Can Learn From Navigating the Dot-Com Bust

3 min readJan 27, 2021


Kelley Rodriguez, Love Advertising’s VP of Media, reflects on the dot-com bust and how that prepared us for the 2020 pandemic.

In late 2000, I was working on multiple dot-com media accounts in San Francisco that seemed to deflate overnight. The advertising industry was dealing with emerging digital media at the same time newly formed dot-com company lifespans were phasing out. The advertising industry had to scramble — money had been flowing and advertising agencies were handling promising dot-com brands with big budgets and suddenly it was gone.

Kelley Rodriguez, Love Advertising’s VP of Media

Legacy advertising agencies lost big accounts and closed their doors. I spent my final days in San Francisco working for a global agency negotiating short rates and cancellations on behalf of clients.

Now 20 years later, the effect COVID-19 has had on the advertising industry reminds me a lot the impact of the dot-com bust. No one could have anticipated or expected what was to come in Spring 2020.

Again, it seemed literally overnight agencies and brands had to scramble — industries were wiped out immediately, sports halted, concerts were cancelled, and agencies were negotiating similar circumstances as 2000 with a lot of cancellations.

The difference is, this seems more long-term, more permanent. However, it is not all doom and gloom. Many brands, including multiple clients at Love, have stayed the course and have seen growth in this uncertain environment. They have done this with the guidance and leadership from our teams at Love including Brand, Media, Creative and Public Relations.

Media is more dynamic than ever.

In the last year audiences have been migrating and forming new viewing and listening habits and shifting when they consume media. This means media is more fragmented than ever. The key is to find the balance between what we expect the audience to consume and having the flexibility to make swift changes to follow the audience as new behaviors are formed.

Many of us made it through the 2000 advertising bust, the 2008 economic downturn and we will also make it past the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead to 2021, we should all feel the excitement to find new and creative ways to partner with our clients, generate media plans to connect with audiences and to work together as we move toward the next ‘new normal.’

Kelley Rodriguez, VP Media

Kelley Rodriguez, Love Advertising’s Vice President of Media, is a native Houstonian whose passion for media has taken her all over the world.

With over 23 years experience, Kelley began her media career at Saatchi & Saatchi in San Francisco, worked around the globe and landed back in Houston to head up Richards/Carlberg’s media department before joining the Love team in 2018.

Along the way she has delivered groundbreaking work for blue chip clients such as Hewlett-Packard, MasterCard, Wal-Mart, CenterPoint Energy, UT Health Science Center of Houston, UT Health San Antonio, Mahindra Tractors, Schlotzsky’s, and many more.

In addition to being a past president of Media Alliance of Houston, Kelley has lent her media expertise on multiple national panels including the New York Ad Club Out-of-Home Symposium, and Nielsen. She has also been recognized as the MAH Buyer of the Year and Media Director of the year.

Love Advertising is a full-service advertising agency that creates award-winning, results-focused work for local, regional, and multinational clients from a wide variety of industries.

For more information about Love Advertising and our work, visit LoveAdv.com.




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