JWT’s AnxietyIndex is designed as a place to discuss how brands and consumers are responding to the global recession. With daily content updates, AnxietyIndex.com includes contributions from around JWT’s network, offering a truly global perspective.
Movistar, one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Argentina, is lowering the cost of unlimited service if its consumer community comes together and gives the brand a certain amount of Facebook “likes,” clicked votes or SMS messages. The idea behind the campaign is that when people come together, each one is able to get more. A commercial tells viewers that after “liking” many useless things, finally there’s a “like” that gives real benefit. “Life is more if you share,” says the ad. The brand is also promoting the concept by asking consumers to vote for which of several bands will perform a free concert.
With Argentineans deeply concerned about the rising cost of living, this is an interesting approach to price sensitivity in the context of inflation. Plus, a mobile provider promoting the idea of community is smart at a time when people are becoming more aware of how electronic devices isolate us from others and affect the way we interact.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola installed the latest of its “Open Happiness” vending machines with an ambitious aim: to break down barriers between India and Pakistan. The idea, coming out of a simple insight, is that what unites us is stronger than what sets us apart.
One vending machine was installed in a mall in New Delhi and one in a mall in Lahore, in Pakistan. These cities are separated by only 325 miles but are seemingly worlds apart due to decades of sociopolitical tension. The “Small World Machines” provided a live communications portal that linked strangers divided by more than just national borders, with the hope of promoting cultural understanding. The machines were equipped with first-of-its-kind 3D touch-screen technology that projected a streaming video feed while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live exchange. People on each end (and various walks of life) were encouraged to perform a friendly act together—wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance—before sharing a Coca-Cola.
The resulting video, which went viral on social media, features affectionate encounters, such as a young girl in Delhi touching hands with an older woman on the Pakistani side, as well as more spirited interactions, like an impromptu dance-off between two men in their 60s that went on for several minutes. The initiative was a great way to remind people that their cultures are more similar than different and a small step to bringing them closer.
Kerry LowLow, an Irish company that markets low-fat cheese spreads, recently got buzz with a commercial that pokes fun at the clichéd women we often see in diet commercials. The spot cleverly mocks typical low-fat-food commercials and three stereotypical women they often feature. “Muffin Gal is stressed with weight and completely obsessed with cake,” explains the soundtrack, while “Smug Gal nibbles crackers all day so she fits in her jeans OK” (cue shot of thin woman happily bouncing back on her bed, arms spread out). Ditzy Gal prances around in her underwear eating yogurt. “Sick of clichés? So are we,” reads onscreen copy at the end.
The brand’s positioning is based around encouraging a healthy relationship between women and food. Says a mission statement on the LowLow website: “We say ‘enough’ to feeling bad about food. We believe that everyone should taste, savour, share and, above all, enjoy great food. … LowLow makes food to feel good about (and our plan is to make our ads that way, too).” Rather than play into consumers’ anxieties about food—the video parodies the ideas that women should only eat small portions and resist all cravings—brands can take a more positive approach. Last year, for instance, we wrote about a Kellogg’s campaign in the U.K. that asked women, “What will you gain when you lose?”
A JWTIntelligence study featured in our latest trend report, “The State of Men,” explores several sources of anxiety for men today. One is physical appearance: Factors including the constant sharing of photos on social media and the hyper-competitiveness of job markets are helping to drive pressure on men to look their best. According to a survey we conducted in the U.S. and the U.K., more than three-quarters of men agree that “These days, there’s more pressure than in the past for men to dress well and be well-groomed” and that men face as much pressure as women to stay in shape/have a good body. Our survey, conducted from April 29-May 2 using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, found that men are particularly sensitive about their midsection, whether it’s love handles, a beer belly or an insufficient six-pack. And there’s some evidence that such anxieties are starting early: Boys are becoming more concerned with body image at a younger age, according to a U.S. study published in Pediatrics.
Men are addressing these anxieties by turning to everything from cosmetic procedures to cosmetics. Aside from providing practical solutions, brands can speak to these anxieties by, at minimum, being sensitive to them. Men are seeing ever more highly sculpted male bodies, from Hollywood’s leading men to tongue-in-cheek advertising hunks like the Old Spice spokesmen and Kraft’s Zesty Guy. So marketers can dial down on the intimidation factor with more realistic models and positive messaging that avoids aggravating anxieties. For example, several underwear brands now perceive an “abs fatigue” among male shoppers, The New York Times reported in May. A designer with the 2(x)ist label said the company is shifting toward something “a little less steroid-y” in its images.
A JWT campaign for Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular that involved changing the lyrics to one of the country’s most popular songs—a bid to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare—won the Grand Prix Lion for public relations at last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In 2012, JWT San Juan worked with Banco Popular on a campaign that sought to keep the momentum going and inspire Puerto Ricans battered by a long economic slump.
The bank, which is the country’s largest, sponsored track star Javier Culson, who was competing in the 400-meter hurdle event at the Summer Olympic Games. Banco Popular turned Puerto Rico into a giant track by placing 10 hurdles around the island, each representing an obstacle the country needed to overcome. Thousands of people checked-in at each one and shared the obstacles on social media for a chance to win tickets to the Games. The bank also produced a series of episodes showing people overcoming challenge, as well as a half-hour documentary on Culson that aired the night before the race. Ultimately, the CEO of Banco Popular was able to award Culson the bronze medal at the Olympics.
Whether or not Culson had won a medal, Popular succeeded in lending a happy symbolism to his participation. The campaign emphasized that everyone needs to overcome obstacles in order to progress, instilling Puerto Ricans with hope.
Most of India’s gay community is too scared to come out of the closet. Homosexual intercourse was considered a criminal offense as recently as 2009, and the subject itself is taboo in Indian society. However, attitudes seem to be changing, with more depictions of homosexuality in both movies and media. Now, youth watches and accessories brand Fastrack is attempting to urge people to “come out of the closet” with a suggestive commercial that shows a young woman emerging from one side of a hot pink wardrobe, followed by a second woman exiting from the other door.
Fastrack, which uses the tagline “Move on,” has always been relevant to youth with its fun and quirky communication. This time it raises an issue that has curbed the individuality of Indian youth for too long. In urging India’s young gay population to fight taboos and speak up, the brand gives a great push to this sizable generation—60 percent of India is under age 25—to stop accepting societal shackles and display their individuality with pride.
The economic crisis has made consumers worldwide wary of big banks. In Spain, where the crisis has hit hard, the government was forced to bail out one of the country’s biggest banks, Bankia, to the tune of $130 billion, according to Time. Reverting to the time-honored practice of stashing cash under a mattress is not the safest choice, plus home insurance underwriters won’t cover money unless it’s kept in a safe. That’s where My Mattress Safe comes in.
A former mattress manufacturer in Spain, Paco Santos, is marketing this keypad-activated safe built into the side of a mattress, allowing anxious Spaniards to keep their money close at hand. A dramatic commercial for the mattress safe opens with a scene of rioting in the streets. After a man opens his mattress safe, a tear that has fallen down his face recedes back into his eye as his anxiety about his money fades. Alternative solutions like this show how far banks have fallen in terms of consumer trust—and how ingenious entrepreneurs are becoming in responding to this mistrust.
Most Indian families are of the belief that girls are better off at home after sunset, in part because of the belief that they’re not safe out alone at night. Hero MotoCorp, a motorcycle and scooter maker, is aiming to break down these prejudices through a campaign dubbed “Why should boys have all the fun?” Its scooter brand Pleasure, targeted at women, questions the status quo and asks girls to reclaim the night.
A TV commercial opens with a free-spirited, confident girl who is about to take off on her bike at night when her young male neighbor spots her and says that “Hitler Uncle” (her father) won’t be happy seeing her step out so late. She dismisses him with a nonchalant retort, “Why put brakes on a night of fun?” while taking off on her Hero Pleasure. She is soon joined by her friends on their bikes. The spot ends with her dancing the night away at a party with her father, while the neighbor who questioned her is dragged out by his ears, by his mother. The girl tells the boy: “My dad is happy, but your mom seems to be becoming the Hitler.” The commercial signs off with the line, “Why should boys have all the fun?”
Hero MotoCorp not only manages to raise a relevant social issue that bogs women down but also does so without hurting the sentiments of the older generation. It steers clear of becoming a brand that encourages “rebellious behavior” by ensuring that the approval of the father comes out strongly.
In France, as many as a quarter of young people are unemployed. The largest employer of young workers in France, McDonald’s is basing its human resources policy on the professional development of these employees with a policy based on three pillars: training, promotion and internal mobility. On the occasion of the Day of Trades, on April 16, McDonald’s launched a massive recruitment drive, aiming for 40,000 recruitments in 2013. The brand aired three TV commercials, an unusual means of recruitment for a private company (normally only public services use this strategy).
The commercials feature a “mate,” a market manager and a manager, who tell their evolution at McDonald’s from their start to their present status. In one, a 21-year-old named Nicholas says he started at McDonald’s two years ago on a CDI contract (a long-term contract), which “has provided me a certain stability.” He says it has allowed him to buy a car and get an apartment with his girlfriend. “We’ll see what happens next,” he says. “I am confident in the future.” Adds the voiceover: “A job at McDonald’s is a stable job.” While the campaign is not particularly interesting in terms of creativity, the message and the testimonial form are smart ways to quickly touch the target audience. Young people can easily identify themselves in this campaign, which represents a true call to action for them.
For many working parents, it is a daily challenge to make time for their children. It’s no different in Asia, especially in a city like Hong Kong, where the modern stresses of parenting weigh on families with young children. (According to a survey conducted in Hong Kong, only 38 percent of parents spend between 1.5 to 3 hours per day with their children.) Oreo’s “Bonding moments start with Oreo” campaign—which has been adapted around Asia—encourages parents to reignite and strengthen the connection with their children through the “Twist Lick Dunk” ritual.
In a TV commercial, a little girl has tea with her big teddy bear, inviting the bear to eat an Oreo with her and showing it the ritual of eating the cookie by starting with the twist. Her father has been on the phone observing her. He hides behind the bear, who gains a pair of hands that follow her “twist and lick”; she then demonstrates the dunking of the cookie. Her father finally pushes the bear aside and completes the dunk ritual with his happy daughter. The spot ends with the girl’s voiceover telling us that the “twist” of a happy moment happens only with Oreo.