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.
In our spring AnxietyIndex Quarterly report “The Genericizing of Brands” (downloadable from our Trends and Research section), we argue that tactics must be approached in a branded way—that brands must find a unique value voice. A recent Wendy’s commercial for the Deluxe Value Meal is a good example of that.
The commercial, a part of the fast food chain’s “You Know When It’s Real” campaign, shows two guys eating a burger combo meal. But while one has only a tiny plastic burger, fries and soda, the other is eating a real and satisfying lunch from Wendy’s. The man with the miniature version notes that his meal cost just $2.99, only to hear that the other guy paid the same low price.
In a downturn, consumers tend to search for smaller, cheaper options, and in response, most brands target price-driven consumers with basic offers, usually inferior alternatives to the “real thing.” Using an absurdist comparative approach, Wendy’s assures consumers that it’s not among those promising “less for less” and that customers need not make sacrifices in order to save.
Migdal Ohr is an organization that provides education and “social guidance” for Israeli kids from underprivileged or troubled backgrounds. With competition for donations particularly stiff in this downturn, it has found a unique approach to attract attention: While most communications for nonprofits focus on the importance of the cause and how the donation will help the needy, this campaign is about how the donation will affect the giver.
Sending the message that anyone can be a philanthropist, a humorous series of newspaper ads titled “Find the fairy godmother in you” shows unlikely types—a mechanic, a biker and a soccer fan—with fairy wings and a magic wand. Instead of asking the public for help, Migdal Ohr is helping the public by empowering just about anybody to express their inner angel.
Barclays has launched an interesting TV campaign in the U.S. with the tagline “Bank on substance.” The spot succeeds in demonstrating the state of anxiety we find ourselves in these days: A young businessman is trapped in a world where everything is revealed to be a fake. As he frantically runs around the Wall Street area, the motionless people prove to be mannequins, newspapers are worthless decoration and what looks like a building is simply a paper façade that can be torn away.
Considering that many consumers are worried their financial institutions are made of “air” and the economy is a bursting bubble, the ad presents a state of mind most viewers will relate to. Consumers—many of whom suspect that investment firms have been selling them stock market manipulations and other dubious investments—will get the feeling that Barclays has a different approach. At the catharsis of the ad, when a real person steps out of Barclays and ask the young man if he needs help, we get the sense of caring and authenticity we need in order to feel safe again.