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.
At the start of the year, the cost of living in the U.K. escalated when VAT was increased from 17.5 percent to 20 percent. This has left many British people anxious, as their income is stretched to pay for everyday costs such as travel, food and rent/mortgages. The cost of a single egg is now more than 30p, and petrol has hit a record high. In response, British Gas has switched its usual service-focused message to a price-comparison one. Press and posters around the country using British Gas’ familiar animated style and brand line “Looking after your world” declare “Cheapest electricity.” The bold message, and reassuring endline, provide a positive message to the British public.
However, while “Cheapest electricity” is always good news, everyone is waiting for tomorrow’s budget announcement to learn what will really happen to the cost of living here.
Over the last two years, the economy has been constantly in the minds of the U.K. population. When it was at its lowest, and interest rates were rock-bottom, a rush of people switched onto tracker mortgages—a variable-rate mortgage linked to the Bank of England base rate—in an attempt to make the most out of the downturn. Now that things are picking up, however, anxiety is kicking in about the prospect of rising interest rates.
A recent Barclays ad, part of their popular “Take One Small Step” campaign to communicate that people can switch to fixed rate at any time with the bank’s new tracker mortgage, gives the impression that Barclays understands consumer anxieties and wants to help. By using the campaign’s trademark simple metaphors and wry voice of Stephen Merchant, the execution feels immediately friendly and familiar, making the message easier to trust (though in reality the advert doesn’t confirm that existing Barclays customers can switch products). How much this will actually help those at the mercy of rising interest rates remains in the fine print.