Oreo uses personalized emojis to connect Chinese families

In China, where long working hours can make it difficult for parents to stay connected with their kids, Oreo harnessed emojis to facilitate more family bonding. Using WeChat, China’s popular messaging platform, the Mondelez brand allowed users to create emoji characters that incorporated photos of themselves or their kids, as well as celebrities. Users could choose from various templates and actions, including animations. Consumers could also project their emojis onto the screens at Oreo bus shelters and print out stickers of their creations.

The emojis proved a hit—more than 99 million were created over the course of the 11-week campaign. While Oreo appears to be the first marketer to let people emojify themselves, brands including Honda and Singapore’s SingTel have done various clever things with these teeny images as communications become much more visually driven. Given their whimsical appeal across generations, emojis were a smart way for Oreo to expand its positioning as a brand that brings parents and kids together, in this case finding a way to drive a mobile connection for absent parents.

Canadian Boomers feeling pressure as they consider their money’s future

Canadian banks

As Canadian Boomers age, concern is building over the approximately $1 trillion that will be left behind in the country’s largest wealth transference in history. We’re seeing anxieties rise over this wealth transference, as well as conflicting opinions on what Boomers should be doing with their money leading up to and into their retirement. The Bank of Montreal, one of Canada’s top financial institutions, recently released a wealth transference report, predicting that on average each Boomer will bequeath around $100,000. What happens to this money? According to BMO’s study, 79 percent of beneficiaries will use it to reduce debt. Undoubtedly, student debt could be part of that bucket.

Stacked next to Boomers’ wealth transference anxieties, many are wondering: Do I support my kids now and risk my financial future or wait till after I die? A June study by Scotiabank highlights this financial dilemma. “Not surprisingly, Baby Boomer remorse over retirement planning arises as obstacles begin to appear in the path toward the comfortable lifestyles that we all dream of,” says Lisa Ritchie, Scotiabank’s SVP of Customer Knowledge and Insights, in a press release.

With these Boomer concerns making headlines, banks like BMO and Scotiabank are getting ahead of the issue and pointing consumers to the financial counseling and planning they provide—something we’ll see more brands do as this subject gains traction among Boomers.

Photo Credits: Bank of Montreal; Scotiabank

Mikel Coffee proves good brew can percolate in budget-conscious Greece

Mikel Coffee Co.

In Greece, going out for a coffee is a favorite leisure activity, as we’ve previously noted. But the financial crisis has slashed disposable income. Some major coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee have closed branches and, in some cases, left the market altogether. Homegrown brand Mikel Coffee Co., however, has been doing well since it launched in 2008 at the start of the crisis.

Mikel coffee shops are sprouting up like mushrooms, overtaking established local and international players, and soon there will be more than 100 branches in Greece. In 2013, Mikel reported a gross profit of €991,237. The secret to Mikel’s success is catering to a multitude of consumer needs. The prices are competitive, but not low enough to affect quality and brand perception (indeed, Starbucks has been forced to adjust its prices to be able to compete). Consumers also appreciate the generous freebies (small cakes, savory snacks, etc.) that come with the coffee. The stores are open longer than many competitors, with most operating from 5 a.m. till 11 p.m. or midnight. Mikel also offers home delivery, which is proving very popular, particularly for businesses.

The shops answer Greeks’ need to enjoy coffee out of home and socialize like they used to pre-crisis, and let them do so in an affordable way while still catering to the quality expectations Greeks have for their cafés. The chain has become very popular among youth, and the fact that it’s a Greek success story further helps drive brand preference. The moral of the story: When catering to the right needs with the right ingredients, you can succeed even in a crisis environment.

Photo Credit: Mikel Coffee Co.

PayPal uses World Cup for clean water awareness

PayPal - Neymar

While the big World Cup sponsors are attempting to score big with a large audience in order to boost sales, PayPal is using the mega-event as a cause marketing effort in conjunction with Brazilian soccer star Neymar, bringing awareness to the necessity for clean water in Brazil. A fundraising drive, Competition for Good, is positioned as a contest among football fans around the world, who donate through PayPal on behalf of 32 national teams.

The effort is a partnership between PayPal and Neymar’s nonprofit, Neymar Jr. Project Institute. Proceeds go to Waves for Water, which provides communities with water filters and, in this case, will donate filters in the cities where the matches are taking place. From the semifinal matches on July 8 through the final on July 13, PayPal will also match donations 100 percent. The initiative is a nice way to tie together the sporting event of the year with a CSR campaign while also driving consumers to log into their PayPal accounts.

Photo Credit: PayPal

Outdoor ads improve water, air quality

Outdoor ads are sometimes criticized as a form of visual pollution—obscuring scenic views, cluttering country highways or covering city streets—but some marketers are creating outdoor work that actively fights pollution, from toxic water to contaminated air.

In the Philippines, an 88-foot billboard that promotes Japanese natural cosmetics brand Shokubutsu Hana is made of vetiver grass, which has toxin-absorbing properties. Placed in Manila’s heavily polluted Pasig River, the billboard can cleanse up to 8,000 gallons of water a day. (While not a traditional outdoor ad, a Cannes gold Lion winner in the outdoor category similarly serves as a means to clean water: Produced by the charity Water Is Life, “The Drinkable Book” is a manual covering good sanitation and hygienic practices that also purifies drinking water, thanks to a paper coating that can destroy deadly bacteria.) In Peru, meanwhile, a billboard for engineering university UTEC purifies air up to five blocks away. Situated within the construction site of UTEC’s new campus, the billboard can filter 100,000 cubic meters of air per day.

Each campaign highlights a commitment to quality of life, reflecting positively on the organizations. In UTEC’s case, the university recognizes that growth and development can cause pollution but shows that it has the know-how to help mitigate the negative impact. These practical efforts go beyond raising awareness to providing solutions to real problems, addressing anxieties and improving lives immediately.

Lion-winning Banco Popular campaign takes practical approach to stimulate growth in Puerto Rico

This week, Banco Popular and JWT San Juan won a bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for “My Bank, My Space,” a response to Puerto Rico’s eight-year recession that focused on promoting customers’ small businesses. Banco Popular and JWT have been aiming to infuse hope into the Puerto Rican economy for the past few years. In 2011, the bank rewrote a popular song to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare (winning a Grand Prix at Cannes), while in 2012, another campaign transformed an Olympic hurdle event into a metaphor for overcoming life’s obstacles.

Puerto Rico’s economy is still struggling, and after its credit rating dropped to junk status, the bank took its efforts a step further. Focusing on actively generating fiscal development rather than simply inspiring it, the “My Bank, My Space” initiative gave 140 small-business customers the marketing platform and budget to fuel their enterprises. Banco Popular built a full-scale production studio to produce TV and radio spots, using its entire advertising and corporate media budget for the project, which included print ads and an online platform for these businesses to promote their products. The campaign garnered significant media attention, providing additional promotion for the small businesses and for the bank.

Banco Popular successfully combined corporate and human interest to help stimulate growth, not merely speaking to customers’ monetary troubles but tackling them head-on with a pragmatic expediency.

Nivea magazine ad helps parents track kids with wearable tech

As discussed in our report “10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond,” a new crop of wearables allow users to be tracked from afar. And although this type of technology carries privacy implications, it can also allay anxiety around safety for users themselves or their loved ones. For instance, the Guardian Angel, created by JWT Singapore, is a pendant that can discreetly text the wearer’s location to select contacts in the event of an emergency.

In Brazil, Nivea created a lower-tech wearable it calls the “Sun Band” for its sunscreen brand Protégé that lets parents keep tabs on their children at the beach. A magazine ad featured a bracelet that can be popped out and wrapped around a child’s arm; parents then download an app that syncs with the bracelet and lets them set a perimeter. If a child wanders outside the designated area, an alarm notifies the parent immediately. Nivea says the bracelet, made from humidity-resistant paper, can be used more than once.

In some instances, tech that allows wearers to be tracked will be controversial, but this campaign strikes the right balance for parents by being practical, fun and easy. And it reinforces Protégé’s positioning as a brand that cares about safety by giving parents a little extra peace of mind on a day at the beach.

Halls encourages young Mexicans to aspire to dream jobs

Halls

It seems many young Mexicans would enjoy a change of pace at work. According to a survey by job search site Trabajando.com and Universia, 54 percent of young Mexicans feel their workplace has a bad environment, 26 percent feel unsatisfied, and 24 percent feel awkward at work. Targeting workers who are demoralized, Halls launched the campaign “Jobs That Inspire,” encouraging young people to apply for a chance to work in their dream job for a week (fashion photographer, food critic, etc.).

Contestants filled out applications on the Halls Mexico website, selecting their dream job and writing why they deserve it the most. Contestants were encouraged to share a registration code on social media with friends who could help them accrue points. Those with the most points won the opportunity to work their selected dream job. In this way, Halls motivated young Mexicans to address their frustration at work by presenting the opportunity to follow their hearts and re-evaluate their current jobs. “Jobs That Inspire” stemmed from the overarching campaign “Breathe and open up to more,” staying true to the brand’s core message.

Photo Credit: Halls

Pernod Ricard app helps imbibers track alcohol consumption

We’ve written a few posts about how alcohol brands (including Heineken and Martini) encourage responsible drinking by responding to various consumer anxieties. Recently, Pernod Ricard, the parent of brands including Absolut, Jameson and Malibu, launched an app called Wise Drinking that helps people concerned about their ability to drive, estimating users’ blood alcohol concentration. Available in 37 languages, the app takes into account gender, weight, time of the last meal and the type and quantity of alcohol consumed. Wise Drinking also offers advice on how to pace alcohol consumption and a “Get me home” button for one-touch calls to emergency services and selected friends.

Pernod Ricard is also partnering with Alcohoot, a startup selling a $99 breathalyzer that plugs in to mobile headphone jacks and provides a more exact measure of sobriety. The product “has the potential to change behavior,” according to a statement from Pernod head Bryan Fry. Wise Drinking includes integration with Alcohoot’s app.

While promoting safe drinking is a challenge—in this case, Wise Drinking requires potentially inebriated users to remember to input the information each time they have a drink—providing the tools to make more informed choices and encouraging more mindful consumption throughout the night is a move in the right direction.

JWT London’s Q1 Austerity Index finds Brits seeking solace in edible escapes

Austerity Index 2014 Q1

“Edible escapism” is how Brits are getting themselves through the slow economic recovery, according to JWT London’s latest Austerity Index. In a survey for the fifth Austerity Index report, 69 percent of British respondents acknowledged splurging on treats in the last three months, with 41 percent of these indulgences in the food or drink category. Treating, it seems, is eating. The report identifies foodie treats being used not only as a coping mechanism for therapeutic purposes but also as a social lifeline, a way to share experiences.

2014 marks the fourth year of austerity measures in the U.K.—strict coping behaviors are now ingrained, living standards have declined, and weariness about austerity remains unchanged. But our Austerity Index data reveals pockets of positive uplift, and the U.K.’s splurging habits suggest that these little mood-boosters are fueling optimism, even when household finances are barely surfacing.

“The way to Britain’s heart is surely through its stomach,” says Marie Stafford, Planning Foresight Director at JWT London. “It is a sign of the power of the experience economy, our need for social contact and a marker of how far Britain has come in its relationship with all things epicurean that food and drink should become our chosen indulgence.” However, this throws the country’s polarization into sharp focus: “It seems even more unfair that many households struggle to purchase nutritious food,” says Stafford.

The full report is available to download at austerityindex.com, along with reports from previous quarters.

Photo Credit: JWT London