In 2009, at the beginning of the financial crisis, brands such as Ikea and Telefonica emphasized the importance of solidarity in overcoming the slump. But it’s been two years and Spain is still in free fall, with no signs of imminent recovery from its biggest crisis in recent decades. Unemployment is at 22 percent and growing. Millward Brown’s “Consumer Perspectives June 2011” sees a real deterioration of the domestic economy.
The airbags of the crisis have been families, which are absorbing the laid-off and young people without job opportunities, but household savings are shrinking. This is forcing people to cut back on social activities, such as going down to the nearest bar with friends, a Spanish social custom. In response, Mahou, Spain’s leading beer, has launched a timely campaign reinforcing the values of friendship and generosity and the idea that friendship is shown in difficult times.
A TV spot explains that Javier lost his job six months ago when his company shut down, and now he’s avoiding the bar—“he felt ashamed that we might end up paying for him.” But, says the voiceover, “If one of us is missing, it’s not the same. So we decided to stop paying for his beers and simply do what Javi would do for any friend.” The guys each pour some of their own Mahou into a glass for their buddy. The tagline is “All or none.”
I don’t know whether this is a nice message or a depressing one—can we live on generosity and solidarity alone?