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.
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.
Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest causes of anxiety, especially when dealing with it alone. An online ad for Google demonstrates how the company’s tools, such as Google Chat or Google+, can help people deal with their uncertainties and worries together. In showing a young couple expecting a baby imminently—the most tense of times—Google illustrates its claim to “make the web work for you.”
The sweet two-minute film illustrates how the couple stay in touch throughout the day, using Google, and seek answers to their pressing questions. The wife seeks natural ways to cope with labor, the husband nervously calculates tuition fees, and each of them searches for baby names (the wife lands on Beatrice for a girl, the husband on Elvis for a boy). The wife seeks advice from friends on Google+, wondering how to tell her husband there will no longer be room for his record collection. Finally, the location-sharing feature comes in handy when the contractions begin, allowing the husband to find his wife and get to the hospital in time.
Google successfully conveys that it is more than a search engine and that its various products can make daily life easier, more efficient and even less anxious.
Educating kids is a task that can create many moments of anxiety for parents. Not all parents know how to cope with the curiosity of their children, and some are afraid they won’t give the right answer to ongoing questions. One of the most feared and inevitable questions, of course, is “Where do babies come from?” In this amusing Kia Sorento commercial, which debuted on the Super Bowl, a father copes with this awkward question by telling his son about Babylandia, a planet filled with all kinds of babies. When it’s time for the tots to leave, they carry out an epic space journey by rocket and touch down on Earth.
The skeptical son starts to offer an alternative theory conveyed by a friend—which is when the father interrupts and orders the car’s voice-controlled music system to play “Wheels on the Bus.” In the end, the Sorento has succeeded in extricating the father from an anxiety-provoking situation. As more cars gain advanced technologies, brands will need to focus less on the technical specs and more on how the tech meets everyday needs. Here, the family car brand shows that its technology provides the tools to deal with a familiar family issue, giving parents confidence that “It has an answer for everything,” as onscreen copy promises at the close.
Americans are well-known for working long hours and for their limited amount of vacation time. Which means vacation planning is especially crucial to American travelers. They tend to feel anxious about planning the perfect trip and even pressured to achieve a “once in a lifetime” vacation. Priceline’s Booking.com, popular among European tourists, launched its first U.S. campaign recently with a TV commercial that tackles these concerns.
The lighthearted 60-second spot focuses on that moment of joy when happy travelers see just how nice their accommodation is and feel hopeful that the trip will meet expectations. An assortment of travelers—a family of five, a couple, a group of women—all arrive at their holiday destination, weary from their journey and nervous about what awaits them on the other side of the hotel room door. When the lodgings turn out to be a winner, there is much celebration, and a voiceover declares: “You got it right! You got it booking right!”
Booking.com prioritizes the customer’s experience by committing to deliver the right vacation, with the commercial doing a nice job of illustrating the brand’s promise to “bring an end to the ‘click-and-hope-for-the-best’ era of online travel planning.”
Suppose you find out that a co-worker has stolen your lunch and eaten it, especially after you’ve been fantasizing about your delicious meal in the office fridge. Unfortunately, this is a widespread phenomenon in every office. The million-dollar question is, How can this be prevented? BGH, a microwave manufacturer, is humorously fighting this low-level employee anxiety with the world’s first alarm-equipped Tupperware container. Its purpose: to keep food safe at work.
A series of three commercials from Argentina showcase the concept. “The Big Steal” opens with what sounds like a car alarm, and we see a man running desperately through his office—not to reach his car, as we discover, but to rescue his lunch from the clutches of a food thief. His Tupperware alarm has saved his meal. The risk of stolen food increases when the dish is heated by BGH microwaves, says the brand, because their devices are so good at cooking. Consumers can obtain these unique Tupperware containers only by submitting cooking tips to BGH’s Facebook page.
Through this whimsical invention, BGH assures consumers not only that their food is literally secure both also that, more generally, it’s in safe hands.
One of the most important and expensive purchases consumers make is a car, and the process is often fraught with confusion and fear. TrueCar aims to eliminate that by gathering market data and showing buyers what they can expect to spend on average for vehicles in their area, based on what others have paid; it also has a network of certified dealers who “offer a hassle-free car-buying experience.” The model is somewhat different from other price-comparison sites for car buyers, as The Economist outlined earlier this year.
A new TV ad opens by saying “Let’s talk truth,” noting that “Buying a car can be overwhelming” and is “a process filled with anxiety.” TrueCar emphasizes that it’s committed to openness, fairness and a better car-buying spirit, delivering the message that all deals and transactions are transparent. It induces confidence in the consumer, especially the promise to eliminate the fear of haggling. As Scott Painter, TrueCar’s CEO, said in a release, “Nobody wants to be a sucker and overpay.”
Upscale U.K. department store Harvey Nichols positions its women’s-wear department as the answer to a holiday-season anxiety for potential customers: that after searching for the perfect party getup, they’ll be upstaged by another woman wearing the same thing. This “nightmare” scenario is taken to an extreme in a humorous video: Two women at the same party are wearing the same distinctive red dress, and instead of figuratively shooting daggers at each other, they start shooting red lasers from their eyes, destroying much of the space. Eventually one of the women is defeated—but then a third woman arrives in the same dress, and a new battle begins.
“Avoid a same dress disaster this season,” says the on-screen copy at the end. This type of retailer can’t compete on price, but it can compete with the ubiquitous chains on unique offerings that are perfect for showing off at holiday parties.
At night, some kids suspect monsters are hiding in the closet or under the bed. Some have nightmares, others are just afraid of the dark. A nicely produced student spec spot for German teddy bear brand Steiff offers the bear as a solution to help children cope with these fears and anxieties. We see a little boy alone in a dark forest, chased by a giant monster. The boy wakes up but finds that his nightmare is not over: The monster breaks through the window and bursts into his bedroom. The last line of defense for the boy is his teddy bear. It fights his battles and in the end defeats the monster.
The teddy bear acts as the boy’s defender and his savior. The spot presents the bear not just as a simple fluffy, cuddly stuffed animal but as a protector—a provider of comfort and source of confidence, especially at night.
Petrol prices have spiked as much as 38 percent over the last five years in the U.K. and continue to rise, adding one more headache to the deck of everyday concerns among British consumers, who are also grappling with rising food and rent costs. U.K. grocery chain Morrisons recently introduced the Fuel Saver program, offering discounts on the retailer’s petrol. Unlike other fuel schemes, it doesn’t require the participant to shop at Morrisons, only to buy gift cards from the chain for any of 34 participating retailers, including Toys R Us, Homebase and Boots. Consumers get 1p off each liter of fuel for every £10 worth of gift voucher. “We know that the cost of filling the family car is a real worry for our families but using Fuel Saver for purchases can lead to very large savings,” said Morrisons commercial director Richard Hodgson in a press release.
We’ve seen similar save-on-fuel schemes in the U.S. as well, from retailers including Walmart and Kroger. With many people still struggling financially even as the cost of everyday living rises, brands have opportunities to both help consumers get by on shoestring budgets while also retaining their business.