It's not uncommon for some of Madison Avenue's leading modelers to forecast outcomes like a epidemiologists predicting a viral spread, but usually, it's about media. On Tuesday they did that literally during an Advertising Research Foundation "virtual town hall" on the impact the COVAD-19 pandemic could have on the United States.
The town hall was billed as a series of presentations and discussion that would shed light on its impact on advertising and media, and there was some insightful anecdotal discussion of that, but mainly, it was a couple of cases of leading industry modelers' analysis of epidemiological data predicting the spread, infection rate and mortality across the U.S. population.
While the presenters -- Marketing Evolution Executive Chairman Rex Briggs and ABCS Insights Co-Founder Jerome Shimizu -- did provide some fascinating examples of COVID-19 marketing responses, as well as predictions and likely best practices, the presentations mainly made a case for how severe the disease will be in terms of Americans' lives.
Thumb through their presentations linked above, and watch the video of the ARF's town hall below, but I'll cut to the chase and highlight what we in journalism call the "nut graf," or the essence of this column. It's on slide 10 of Briggs' presentation when he uses his ample statistical skills to forecast the human toll COVID-19 will have based on data from cases in Hubei, China, which was ground zero for the spread of COVID-19.
According to Briggs' forecast: 49 million Americans will become infected, 3,899,00 critically or severely, and 780,000 will die.
Both Briggs and Shimizu made cases for the spread to be less severe -- or worse -- depending on how American citizens and our government respond, but the numbers above represent the logical mathematical model based on the data available to date.