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.
With the Indian rupee depreciating to new lows against the dollar, Indians are expecting the worst. They’re anxious about shelling out 10 to 15 percent more for an education abroad and about paying more for both essentials and luxuries like imported chocolates. Now the Indian consumer will have to think twice before getting her hands on a ritzy new gadget or car. With the monthly expenditure of the middle class increasing by almost 20 percent, there is tension in the air and fear in people’s hearts.
Indian dairy producer Amul, known for its tongue-in-cheek advertising on current issues, illustrates the angst felt by the Indian consumer. An ad shows the iconic Amul girl in a sinking boat made of rupee notes, trying to grab onto a rupee. The headline, loosely translated, means “Save me from my rupee.” The sardonic sign off, “Valued highly,” adds to the dark humor.
The brand is clearly in tune with its consumers, as the pinch is being felt by every pocket. With the cost of imported raw materials, crude oil, medicines and fertilizers going up, all sectors are getting affected and in turn are affecting the consumer. Consumers are bracing for the actual brunt, which will be felt in the coming months.
Most of India’s gay community is too scared to come out of the closet. Homosexual intercourse was considered a criminal offense as recently as 2009, and the subject itself is taboo in Indian society. However, attitudes seem to be changing, with more depictions of homosexuality in both movies and media. Now, youth watches and accessories brand Fastrack is attempting to urge people to “come out of the closet” with a suggestive commercial that shows a young woman emerging from one side of a hot pink wardrobe, followed by a second woman exiting from the other door.
Fastrack, which uses the tagline “Move on,” has always been relevant to youth with its fun and quirky communication. This time it raises an issue that has curbed the individuality of Indian youth for too long. In urging India’s young gay population to fight taboos and speak up, the brand gives a great push to this sizable generation—60 percent of India is under age 25—to stop accepting societal shackles and display their individuality with pride.
Most Indian families are of the belief that girls are better off at home after sunset, in part because of the belief that they’re not safe out alone at night. Hero MotoCorp, a motorcycle and scooter maker, is aiming to break down these prejudices through a campaign dubbed “Why should boys have all the fun?” Its scooter brand Pleasure, targeted at women, questions the status quo and asks girls to reclaim the night.
A TV commercial opens with a free-spirited, confident girl who is about to take off on her bike at night when her young male neighbor spots her and says that “Hitler Uncle” (her father) won’t be happy seeing her step out so late. She dismisses him with a nonchalant retort, “Why put brakes on a night of fun?” while taking off on her Hero Pleasure. She is soon joined by her friends on their bikes. The spot ends with her dancing the night away at a party with her father, while the neighbor who questioned her is dragged out by his ears, by his mother. The girl tells the boy: “My dad is happy, but your mom seems to be becoming the Hitler.” The commercial signs off with the line, “Why should boys have all the fun?”
Hero MotoCorp not only manages to raise a relevant social issue that bogs women down but also does so without hurting the sentiments of the older generation. It steers clear of becoming a brand that encourages “rebellious behavior” by ensuring that the approval of the father comes out strongly.
Women’s safety is slowly becoming a serious issue in India. In Kolkata, at one time known as the safest metro for women in India, more than half the female population feels the need to carry an article for self-defence. And according to a survey commissioned by Times of India, two-thirds have “experienced misbehaviour” on the street, but only 11 percent filed a complaint, showing their mistrust in the police.
In light of this, leading daily newspaper The Times of India has kicked off a campaign, “Kolkata for Women,” that looks into different aspects of a woman’s life and her engagement with the city through articles, seminars, health workshops and the like. The campaign aims to address every issue faced by a woman in the city, right from safety to problems encountered during the commute, at work, at home, etc. The idea is to join hands with the women of Kolkata “in their fight to demand what is rightfully theirs and to reclaim a city that is equally theirs,” as the paper explained.
A recent seminar on health saw women flocking for free advice and tests. Hopefully, initiatives such as this will wake up citizens to the logical, the obvious and the right.
The percentage of women in India’s workforce has fallen so sharply that it has skewed the global numbers, prompting an International Labour Organization investigation. ILO’s new report expresses concern over the fall in labor force participation for women from more than 37 percent in 2004-2005 to 29 percent in 2009-2010. India ranks 11th from the bottom out of 131 countries, behind even Bangladesh and Pakistan. The recent brutal rape in Delhi, that made international headline, has only fueled the fear around women’s security. In light of this, there are many corporations that are doing their bit to tackle issues of safety and empowerment for women. Telecom companies in particular are going out of their way to make women feel safe.
Vodafone India operates Angel Stores, which are managed and run by women only; last month Vodafone opened the 16th such store in the country. The idea is to ensure equal opportunities for women while providing a safe and productive work environment, and to make women customers feel more comfortable as well. Meanwhile, MTS India has launched a “Women MPowered Plan,” which permits women to make calls despite a negative balance and offers special rates as well as safety tips. The company also provides free self-defense classes and gives away pepper spray to women buying a new prepaid connection. Bharti Airtel is providing specialized products for women, such as an emergency alert service and a call manager to block stalkers.
The Indian consumer is very anxious when it comes to crime and is constantly looking for a sense of safety in his surroundings. In a spot for Godrej Security Solutions, created by JWT India, the home safe brand addresses this anxiety by giving the consumer control over the situation.
A couple is sleeping peacefully when rumbling from another room wakes up the wife, who urges her husband to check out what’s causing the commotion. The husband spots two thieves trying to break into the family safe, then calmly heads back to bed, popping cotton balls in his ears to muffle the sound before cozying up under the covers. The wife inquires as to what happened, and he replies, “Nothing, it’s just some thieves.” The spot concludes with the line “No matter when trouble arrives, what is the need to be scared?”—and a shot of the frustrated thieves breaking into some dinner leftovers instead of the safe.
Rather than relying on fear tactics to convey the benefits of using a Godrej safe, the brand smartly breaks the seriousness of the category by using subtle humor without compromising the gravity of a break-in.