It was only a matter of time before a marketer coopted the quintessentially British “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan—originally a World War II propaganda poster (designed in case of Nazi invasion), rediscovered by a bookstore owner 10 years ago and seen everywhere (on posters, mugs, T-shirts, screensavers, etc.) in the U.K. during the downturn. “The words are … particularly positive, reassuring, in a period of uncertainty, anxiety, even perhaps of cynicism,” a London School of Economics social psychologist told The Guardian last year in explaining its popularity.
Things are looking even worse for the U.K. today. The government’s austerity measures, announced Tuesday, were met with headlines like “Pain now, more pain later.” Nectar, a loyalty card, launched a print campaign timed to coincide with the announcement, telling Brits to “Keep Calm and Carry One.” Nectar’s signature purple replaces the usual red background, and an image of the card stands in for the crown. Web copy reads: “Don’t be disheartened by the Budget news! Times may be tough, but using your Nectar card is a savvy way to collect points and spend them on great rewards.”
Using bad news for a brand’s advantage is risky and tough to pull off, but now seems like just the right time for Nectar to leverage this pop-culture phenomenon.