We’re living in a Super Stress Era (one of JWT’s 10 Trends for 2013), and news headlines filled with what seems like more doom and gloom than normal are only driving more stress and anxiety among consumers. Brands can help lift spirits by offering consumers some unexpected moments of cheer. Earlier this summer, TD Bank scored a viral hit after it created a few special ATMs that dispensed gifts to loyal patrons in Canada, part of its “TD Thanks You” campaign; these customers got anything from extra cash to a ticket to visit a faraway daughter with cancer. The smile-inducing video has garnered 10 million-plus views.
To illustrate its tagline “Awakens a smile in you,” Brazilian bread brand Nutrella also jumped on the joy bandwagon with its “Friendly Mirror”: a mirror placed around public places that gave random compliments to people walking by. (An idea similar to Avon’s 2011 “Miraculous Mirror” campaign in Slovakia.) Meanwhile, in early August, Honda promoted its annual summer clearance event with a “Summer Cheerance” campaign, which included a “Cheerance” playlist in tandem with Pandora, piñatas for passersby to swing at, a “Stand Here for Cheer” box (which released surprises like saxophone serenades and a bouquet-toting bear) and silly fun in partnership YouTube celebrity Andrew Hales.
For consumers weighed down by anxieties, marketers have the opportunity to be a bright spot, building a brand narrative based in joy.
Although gas prices have held at roughly the same level for the past three years in the U.S., pain at the pump is still a consumer concern. (Myriad brands have sought ways to ease consumer anxiety over gas prices: Grocery chains including Costco and Kroger, for instance, offer gas savings tied to purchases; we’ve written about Morrisons’ Fuel Saver program in the U.K.) KFC recently offered a nostalgic panacea with a throwback to better days—a time “when you could get a hot, delicious meal and fill up your car for just $5,” as a press release put it—by providing lunch and a tank full of gas for only five bucks to promote its new $5 Fill-Up meals.
The promotion was for one day only at a service station in Louisville, Ky., and included a Colonel Sanders character pumping gas. A companion Twitter “fill-up” campaign let fans trade professions of brand love for free fuel and meals.
Nostalgia has played a major role in recession and post-recession marketing with brands leveraging visions of a simpler past to create emotional connections. By addressing price concerns with the emotional balm of nostalgia, KFC leveraged its history to create camaraderie and build affinity in a still-uncertain economy.
According to this video from Orangina, half of Croatia’s young population is unemployed, and the rest are overburdened with work. To give harried workers some unexpected fun, an Orangina campaign let people order a miscellany of offbeat surprises to be delivered to their offices. These included a magic show delivered by a magician whose trick of seemingly cutting people in two humorously addressed the issue of understaffed businesses. Other eclectic treats included giant pizzas, serenades from a “mini mariachi,” acrobatics shows and kisses from the runner-up world champion of French kissing. The campaign sought to bring Orangina’s “Shake Things Up” tagline to the workplace by providing “more than just moral support.”
As Europe continues to struggle with the economic crisis, brands can strike a chord with consumers by showing support not only for the unemployed but for overtaxed employees. Moreover, with some research showing that Millennials crave surprises in their day, Orangina’s quirky approach to rewards was a novel way to inject some serendipity into consumers’ workdays.