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.
One of the key sources of consumer anxiety during an economic crisis is the fear of unemployment. But for those who are employed, there is another one: understanding that they need to work harder and complain less. And summoning the energy to manage angry bosses, crowded commuter buses or tiny paychecks. The launch campaign for the new Coca-Cola energy drink Gladiator refers to this situation. A natural beverage made with coffee and guarana, Gladiator is positioned as a workday boost. The campaign showcases everyday types—such as the “Handsome Moto-boy” and the “Indestructible Student”—and calls them the real “gladiators” as they battle enemies such as the “Ruthless Boss,” the “Terrible Crowded Bus” and the “Negligible Salary.” See more at the Gladiator Web site.
It’s not just consumer brands that can find opportunity in crisis; a government can do the same, which is what Brazil pulled off when it won the right to host the 2016 Olympic Games. The victory is being used to reaffirm to the Brazilian market that domestically, the crisis has already gone away and to show the world that Brazil has weathered the crisis relatively unscathed. With a promise of U$12 billion in investments and a well-developed and tight presentation, the country showed why it should be the first Latin American nation to host an Olympic Games. Maybe this deserves a gold medal in a global crisis.
With the contribution of Bernardo Kirschner.
This is one more example of a brand leveraging the crisis to communicate with consumers. Which doesn’t mean that it’s creatively good—it’s not. We’re talking about Anador, a well-known analgesic brand in Brazil used mainly for headache relief. It was easy for the brand to make a link with this crisis moment; after all, money (or lack thereof) is one of the major causes of headaches, at least metaphorically.
Anador’s new campaign, “Live your life without pain with Anador. No more headaches,” provides consumers with tips on navigating the domestic and day-by-day economy. It does this via collectible brochures available free from drugstores. The campaign also includes a contest in which a year of groceries is the prize, a bonus sure to alleviate headaches in a time of crisis.
With the contribution of Felipe Senise
More often than not, it’s the tragic stories that receive media coverage, especially in times of crisis. Displeased with the huge amount of bad news he reads every day, Ruy Drever, a Brazilian journalist, decided to do something about it: He created a site called “The Good News” that focuses only on the positive.
“I needed some fresh air after having been exposed for so long to so much negative news that I read every day in the newspaper. So I developed a space to get the word out about positive people and initiatives, things that make a difference in building a better world,” Drever said in an interview with the blog Outras Bossas.
Brazil’s GDP rose 1.9 percent in the second quarter after a downward trend that had lasted two quarters, and Brazil’s finance minister has announced that the country has “left the crisis behind.” The media has shifted its attention away from the “economic crisis,” and the news now mostly covers the discovery of oil in Brazil’s deepwater pre-salt region, the political crisis in the Brazilian Senate and the performance of the national soccer team in the run-up to next year’s World Cup.
Advertising communication has, of course, reflected this shift. In the retail sector, some of the brands whose crisis-related strategies we’ve written about, such as Ponto Frio and Wal-Mart, are shifting back to their regular positioning. Wal-Mart is delivering its “Save money. Live better” positioning, associating itself with the idea of sustainability, while Ponto Frio is falling back on a retail promotional program for its upcoming anniversary.
Retail brands offer a good example of how brands across Brazil are following the suggestion of the finance minister and leaving the crisis behind. Now … what’s next?
Nowadays, go to any developer and you’re likely to be offered some kind of gift—a credit for a furniture store, tickets to Europe, etc. The value of these gifts can reach US$6,000. Wouldn’t it be more logical just to reduce the price of the property? But this is not how consumers’ minds work: Professionals in this market say that gifts change how potential buyers think about the business, with gifts making them see the house as more valuable, not more expensive.
These companies realize that in a crisis, value is bigger than price. Consumers feel that it’s smart to “gain” something when nobody is giving anything away. Which doesn’t make much sense, but that’s how people tend to see it. Brands that understand that the crisis is much stronger in people’s minds than in their pockets will manage this situation most successfully. –With the contribution of Felipe Senise
One of the biggest challenges facing financial corporations in Brazil is to increase the use of credit cards among low-income clients. But, in the middle of a crisis scenario, how to persuade them to put aside their anxiety and become more confident about using their cards?
The national bank, Caixa Econômica, is investing in a promotion inspired by Brazilians’ faith in the luck of lotteries. This is how it works: Each purchase made with the card generates a coupon that can be raffled. The prize? The bank pays the credit card bill. This means that the more times you spend, the more chances you have to win everything you’ve bought.
Betting on a game of faith valued by Brazilians, the bank offers people a chance to reduce worries related to their credit card bills—and maybe worries related to the crisis itself. —With the contribution of Luiz Mastropietro
“For Brazilians, partying is synonymous with happiness; working is a euphemism for punishment.” This statement is the product of a set of theories developed by Roberto Da Matta, the renowned Brazilian anthropologist. The country is predisposed to turn even the gloomiest of situations into something resembling a party.
This might help explain why Brazil has been one of the most optimistic countries since the onset of the global financial crisis. A 17-country survey carried out by Ibope, in conjunction with the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research, found that just 12 percent of Brazilians expect the situation to worsen versus 49 percent of all respondents.
Similarly, our latest AnxietyIndex survey (AnxietyIndex: A Cross-Market Look) found that Brazilians registered a relatively low level of anxiety when compared with six other countries—66 percent said they were nervous or anxious, more than Australia (61 percent) but far lower than Japan (at 90 percent), Russia, the U.S., the U.K., Spain and Canada.
It’s against this backdrop that Brazilian flip-flop maker Havaianas has aired a commercial mocking the economic crisis. A “roda de samba” (an informal gathering of people playing samba songs, a popular event all over Brazil) is interrupted by an earnest woman who complains: “How can you possibly be laughing and having fun while there is a crisis going on in the world?” The stunned crowd falls silent, until someone lets out: “Talk about sadness!” This is immediately picked up by someone who breaks into a popular samba song that goes “Sadness, please go away!” The rest of the crowd follows along.
While this don’t-worry-be-happy approach wouldn’t click with many cultures, the commercial is a great example of how brands can connect with consumers by finding the humor, hope and optimism in most adversities.
In anxious times, brands don’t always need to focus only on magical innovations—sometimes it’s enough simply to adapt solutions that already exist in the “economic pop culture.” Honda recently brought an existing innovation—Brazil’s ethanol-friendly Flex engine—to a very relevant category among Brazilians: motorcycles.
Brazil’s auto industry created the Flex technology, which allows cars to be fueled by gasoline or ethanol, or even both concurrently. Ethanol is also a Brazilian innovation: The country found a way to subvert the oil industry—gas in Brazil can cost three times as much as it does in the U.S.—and develop its own industry by creating and producing this alternative fuel. Ethanol causes less pollution and comes from a renewable source of energy, sugar cane (which grows in abundance in Brazil).
A Flex engine can cut fuel expenses by 30 percent. Flex engines came out in 2003, and now about 90 percent of cars sold in Brazil have them. In putting them in motorcyles, Honda is tapping into the anxiety of low-income consumers over gas expenses and democratized a relevant innovation, promising more savings to those who need it the most, when they most need it. —with the contribution of Luiz Mastropietro
Brazilian teenagers are more anxious than their parents imagine; it seems that while adults have lived through other economic crises and can put this one in context, teens see it in more simplistic terms. Among adults, the anxiety level is on par with that of other countries studied—but Brazilians are unique in that their primary concerns are not focused on economic issues but rather on the country’s violence, crime and corruption.