Posts by Kimberly Douglas - London

In U.K. spots, Volkswagen and NatWest offer reassurance to anxious parents

Watching a child fly the nest must be one of the most anxious points of a parent’s life. Can it really be that the vulnerable baby they brought into the world is ready to face it on their own? This year, just as Britain’s teenagers sat for their final school exams, two brands released TV spots themed around reassuring apprehensive parents.

Volkswagen, which has built a reputation for safe, reliable cars, positions the Polo as something of a surrogate parent in a charming and emotionally charged 90-second spot. It shows the relationship between dad and daughter build from the moment she’s brought home from the hospital to the day she heads off to university, driving away in a new VW Polo while her father chokes back the tears. The car acting in loco parentis offers a seamless connection between the brand and the sentimental story, allowing VW to forge a bond with consumers and reinforce its longstanding brand values.

In a somewhat clunkier variation on the theme, NatWest uses the (mis)adventures of a young woman (is it just daughters that cause such worry?) on a gap year to promote its latest online banking tool. It’s a platform for the bank to show off their mobile app and further the customer-focused positioning they’ve been using in a bid to rebuild trust following the global banking crisis. But it seems an arbitrary choice to promote what is, essentially, just Internet banking; it almost feels as though the bank is exploiting parental anxiety. Although it may seem right to approach advertising by understanding the anxieties in consumers’ lives, it has to be equally relevant to the brand or product, or it feels false.

Lurpak celebrates healthy ingredients in launch of Lightest butter

Lurpak has been setting the bar for food advertising in the U.K. for some time. The premium butter brand is a champion of real cooking, using extreme close-ups and unusual perspectives of hero ingredients together with charming voiceovers delivered in Rutger Hauer’s distinctive, sultry tones to build an inimitable advertising style. But while its “Saturday Breakfasts,” “Kitchen Odyssey” and “Bake Club” campaigns have left us salivating, these days the sight of a chunky dollop of butter sizzling in a saucepan may prove off-putting for those anxious about calories and cholesterol.

With health and wellness continuing to preoccupy consumers everywhere, Lurpak has introduced a Lightest variant to its portfolio, and celebrates the color and variety of healthy ingredients in the “Wonderful and Wise” launch campaign. Print and outdoor feature a rainbow of dozens of types of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and grains, and a well-executed interactive online version includes food facts, recipes and an ingredient of the week. Aiming to banish the sad, dull image of healthy food, the campaign sums it up in the TV ad with the line “Healthy doesn’t have to taste humdrum.”

This Lightest variant isn’t Lurpak’s first foray into reduced fat butter—they already have a Lighter version on the shelf. But where Lurpak Lighter offered a cynical commentary on the dieting world in the 2007 “Fads” commercial (“It’s not rocket science; just eat a little less fat. … Relax, Waist Watchers. Who’s for an extra helping of common sense?”), the brand now seems to acknowledge that healthy eating is a permanent part of consumer lifestyles, and it isn’t something to be anxious about.

U.K. supermarket Budgens sells ‘hope’ along with groceries to drive donations

One particularly sad truth of the recession is a sharp decline in charitable giving. From 2007, voluntary income among the U.K.’s top 1,000 charities has fallen by more than a fifth, according to The Charities Foundation. One major reason is a decrease in regular giving by direct debit as people struggle to justify the monthly expenditure. In response to these changing habits, JWT London teamed up with supermarket chain Budgens to pilot a new fundraising mechanism that aims to make charitable giving habitual again, by turning it into an impulse purchase.

Engraved wooden blocks branded HOPE sit on store shelves and can be scanned at the checkout along with the rest of a consumer’s shopping. A £1 donation is then automatically sent to the Alzheimer’s Society, the first charity to sign up for the initiative. The block is subsequently returned to the shelf. The aim is to target consumers when they are spending money but at the same time make the process continuous, as much a part of their everyday lives as the weekly grocery shop. The initiative is being trialed in two London stores with a view to expand if it proves successful. Here’s hoping HOPE catches on.

Photo Credit: JWT

AnxietyIndex: August poll finds young Britons hold harshest views on rioters

Our latest AnxietyIndex study, conducted in the wake of the U.K. riots last month, added a focus on how British adults feel about the mayhem, its causes and possible solutions. Some Britons have become more fearful as a result of the riots, especially the younger generation: While 17 percent of people over 35 said they feel less safe on the streets where they live, 41 percent of 18-34-year-old respondents feel less safe. Many in this cohort are also less forgiving of the young rioters than older generations, with 43 percent saying the punishments of those convicted were not harsh enough vs. 34 percent overall. And just 28 percent said they worry for other young people, compared with more than half of the over-50s.

“Young people are fed up with the marginal few who participated in the riots undermining their voice in society,” says Tony Quinn, head of planning at JWT London. “Youth are usually the drivers of social change, but protests are now being overshadowed by violence.”

The survey, which polled 290 British adults, also pointed to an opportunity for brands to serve as part of the solution. More than two-thirds of young people say they feel more positively toward the brands that helped with the cleanup, and many also feel that brands could play a role by sponsoring youth initiatives, facilities and programs, providing training opportunities and facilitating the involvement of young people in their communities. For more on the findings, download the full report here.