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.
As more people “rage against the machine”—that is, come to resent and fear technology, one of our 10 Trends for 2014—they’re increasingly concerned that their kids are spending too much time with tech devices and games and not enough time in the real world. They worry that physical activity is limited to thumb movements. Brands are speaking to this anxiety by showing how they can get kids moving.
A spot by JWT Brazil for Nestlé’s Nescau drink shows that each time a mother leaves the house, her son sits on the couch playing video games until he appears to meld with the furniture. Alarmed, the mother makes him a Nescau drink, which helps to boost energy: The kid runs outside, breaking free of the couch, and joins friends playing soccer.
With a similar sentiment, a U.S. ad for the Sports Authority retail chain encourages people to “give the gift of sport” this holiday season. We see people (mostly youngsters) playing baseball, soccer, volleyball and other sports as the voiceover says: “This does not require an operating system or a username and password. There are no hashtags, no emoticons, and chances are there will not be better versions of these games coming out next year.” Sports Authority tells parents and others to “give something meaningful.”
Over the past few years we’ve seen a range of ads that tap into the ongoing trend to temporarily De-Tech, as we’ve termed it. Watch for more brands to tie this in with an embrace of physical activity, a clear counterbalance to digital-induced inertia.
People are now accessible to one another anyplace, anytime, and employees are constantly connected to their workplace. (As a recent Amstel “cell phone locker” initiative we wrote about put it: “Nowadays every professional with a smart device can confirm that it is impossible to get away from work.”) This increases accordingly the level of anxiety when trying to achieve a balanced work/family life. In a campaign from Orange in Israel, a family is seen enjoying themselves in an amusement park when the father receives a call from his boss. He hesitates: not answering the call could be a bad career move, but this family outing is valuable to him.
The park characters then come to life, singing to him to persuade him not to answer the call, to put his phone on silence mode and to dedicate his time to his family. In the end, Orange delivers the message: “There are times when you should put your cell phone aside, but at other times you have Orange Ultranet.” Orange tackles the work/family issue by encouraging its customers to change their behavior and reduce the amount of time on their phone in favor of quality time with the family, encouraging smarter consumption.
“Nowadays every professional with a smart device can confirm that it is impossible to get away from work,” says a video describing Amstel’s “Safe” initiative in Bulgaria, bemoaning that stressed-out workers have forgotten the purpose of free time. People are afraid of missing out on things, constantly checking emails and notifications and sharing or checking in with their social networks. So Amstel is temporarily installing lockers in bars around Bulgaria: Patrons who stash away their phones receive a free Amstel beer as part of a promotion that aims to “liberate” free time for bar patrons, reminding them how to socialize without digital distractions.
The appeal of De-teching (one of our 10 Trends for 2011) seems to grow each year. Last year we spotlighted the “Bacardi Together” campaign that encouraged people to spend more time together in real life rather than on social media. In another category, Kit Kat launched Wi-Fi-free zones in Amsterdam to help people “have a break,” as the brand’s tagline goes in part. And among many other examples, last year McDonald’s Arabia named Sept. 28 as “A Day Offline,” encouraging people to spend more quality time with family. It seems that as mobile devices take over our lives, brands have myriad opportunities to help people step away from technology and better engage in the moment.
With technology increasingly dominant in everyday life, people are becoming concerned about electronic communication substituting for face time with friends and family, and missing out on real-world experiences. In a survey we conducted for our 10 Trends of 2011 report, 63 percent of British and American respondents said they wished they could spend more time communicating with friends and family in person rather than through technology (our De-Teching trend ties into this). Bacardi rum has been addressing this idea with the “Bacardi Together” global campaign.
“Fight the LOLs and OMGs; fight the little white headphones,” a manifesto spot tells viewers, urging them to take the time to reconnect in a real way with family and friends (and Bacardi), because “we are all meant to be together.” In the U.S., a Get Together Project features two twentysomething guys “on a mission … to bring people together” via meet-ups in parks, bars and more. The “Like It Live, Like It Together” project turned users’ Facebook “likes” into real-world experiences: People voted for their top “likes” and entered for a chance to win tickets to one of two events in New York or Las Vegas that incorporated participants’ favorite cocktails, music, food and entertainment. “Together Tools” on Facebook let people arrange parties with friends. Bacardi is not only suggesting people spend more time together but also giving them opportunities to do so.