Posts by Sarah Siegel - New York

TurboTax puts a positive spin on tax preparation

Two years ago around this time, we wrote about a campaign that attempted to allay anxiety over tax season by focusing on the brighter side of taxes: “Jackson Hewitt’s How You Do It,” which emphasized the joy of receiving the coveted refund check. This year, tax-prep software brand TurboTax is similarly looking at the silver lining of tax season by positioning it as a chance to take pride in one’s accomplishments of the past year.

Commercials in the campaign, dubbed “It’s Amazing What You’re Capable Of,” each highlight a life event that impacts taxes, like getting married, buying a house or having a child. The spots then lightheartedly describe how exciting these milestones are. Taxes are just “a recap. The story of your year. And that’s why we make the tools we make,” explains the spot “The Year of the You.” The voiceover goes on: “That’s why we do everything we do. Because we think you should be the one to tell that story.” Viewers are not likely to see tax prep in an entirely new light, but the commercials are a nice way to prompt them to feel a little more positive about the process.

Nescau, Sports Authority show how they help get kids off the couch

As more people “rage against the machine”—that is, come to resent and fear technology, one of our 10 Trends for 2014—they’re increasingly concerned that their kids are spending too much time with tech devices and games and not enough time in the real world. They worry that physical activity is limited to thumb movements. Brands are speaking to this anxiety by showing how they can get kids moving.

A spot by JWT Brazil for Nestlé’s Nescau drink shows that each time a mother leaves the house, her son sits on the couch playing video games until he appears to meld with the furniture. Alarmed, the mother makes him a Nescau drink, which helps to boost energy: The kid runs outside, breaking free of the couch, and joins friends playing soccer.

With a similar sentiment, a U.S. ad for the Sports Authority retail chain encourages people to “give the gift of sport” this holiday season. We see people (mostly youngsters) playing baseball, soccer, volleyball and other sports as the voiceover says: “This does not require an operating system or a username and password. There are no hashtags, no emoticons, and chances are there will not be better versions of these games coming out next year.” Sports Authority tells parents and others to “give something meaningful.”

Over the past few years we’ve seen a range of ads that tap into the ongoing trend to temporarily De-Tech, as we’ve termed it. Watch for more brands to tie this in with an embrace of physical activity, a clear counterbalance to digital-induced inertia.

Unilever’s Project Sunlight video asks, ‘Why bring a child into this world?’

Issues like global warming, terrorism, food safety, pollution, epidemics, etc., stir up dark visions of the future among many. And while potential parents have long asked, “Why bring a child into this world?”, the question seems increasingly potent. Unilever addresses this anxiety in a documentary-style four-minute video that ties into its new Project Sunlight sustainability initiative, which is aimed at “[creating] a better future for our children.” The theme seems to be hitting a nerve, with the film reaching No. 4 on Ad Age’s Viral Video chart last week and accumulating almost 8 million YouTube views since its Nov. 19 release.

The ad shows pregnant couples from around the world speaking about their anxieties associated with becoming parents, with one man saying, “We are scared—we are scared seeing the present, and we are scared for the future.” They are then shown a video that starts with a somber tone and images of war and poverty, but then turns into positive message: A voice-over explains that thanks to various Unilever initiatives, more crops are being grown every day, clean drinking water is becoming available to hundreds of millions, and everyday products will help prevent illnesses that affect millions of children today.

The spot ends with the words, “Breathe calmly—bring your child into this world; there has never been a better time to create a brighter future for everyone on the planet and for those yet to come.” Unilever is taking an almost universal worry among new parents and showing a different way of looking at the issue—focusing on the positives rather than the negatives—and its own role in that more hopeful outlook.

Brazilian soccer club drives organ donations with ‘immortal fan’ concept

Who wants to think about having their organs removed after death? It’s an anxiety-provoking notion, even if many people believe that donating organs is a good idea in theory. A Cannes Grand Prix-winning campaign out of Brazil has helped to remove that anxiety by giving soccer fans a compelling reason to sign a donation card: the ability to become “immortal fans” of their favorite soccer club, keeping their passion alive.

Organ donor cards were distributed to fans of Sport Club Recife at the stadium, through a Facebook app or through the mail. The integrated campaign featured real patients on transplant waiting lists promising to be loyal fans, thus giving people a real connection and reason to donate. Having their hearts continue to beat for Sport Club Recife is a concept that hits close to home for many ardent fans. As one says in the case study video, “First God, second Sport Club Recife, third family, fourth work.”

By getting Sport Club Recife fans to feel they are helping their team by signing a donation card, the campaign succeeded in making people more at ease and even excited about becoming a donor. So much so that more than 51,000 organ donor cards have been distributed to date, and organ donations increased by 54 percent in one year.

Egypt answers travelers’ anxieties by live-streaming from tourist sites

Tourism to Egypt dropped precipitously in the aftermath of the Arab Spring as political upheaval continued to make headlines. Watching news footage shot around Tahrir Square in Cairo, potential visitors were put off. So the Egyptian Tourism Authority worked with JWT Cairo to convincingly demonstrate that the rest of the country was safe and enjoyable for travel. At last year’s ITB Berlin, one of the biggest events in the tourism industry, the Tourism Authority live-streamed feed from cameras set up in tourist destinations around Egypt. For three days, video of beaches, palm trees, historic sights, urban areas, etc., were projected on giant screens. The live stream also was tweeted, with #cometoegypt going viral on social media.

Today’s consumers are looking for authenticity, and live-streamed footage offers the real deal: Consumers can verify the facts with their own eyes. In Australia, for instance, the company Ecoeggs offers an online ChookCam trained on their free-range chickens, assuring consumers that the hens “ graze on open pastures,” as promised. “Egypt Live” won a silver for Interactive and a bronze for Media at Dubai Lynx 2013.

Kerry LowLow parodies ‘Adland Gal’ to promote positive relationship with food

Kerry LowLow, an Irish company that markets low-fat cheese spreads, recently got buzz with a commercial that pokes fun at the clichéd women we often see in diet commercials. The spot cleverly mocks typical low-fat-food commercials and three stereotypical women they often feature. “Muffin Gal is stressed with weight and completely obsessed with cake,” explains the soundtrack, while “Smug Gal nibbles crackers all day so she fits in her jeans OK” (cue shot of thin woman happily bouncing back on her bed, arms spread out). Ditzy Gal prances around in her underwear eating yogurt. “Sick of clichés? So are we,” reads onscreen copy at the end.

The brand’s positioning is based around encouraging a healthy relationship between women and food. Says a mission statement on the LowLow website: “We say ‘enough’ to feeling bad about food. We believe that everyone should taste, savour, share and, above all, enjoy great food. … LowLow makes food to feel good about (and our plan is to make our ads that way, too).” Rather than play into consumers’ anxieties about food—the video parodies the ideas that women should only eat small portions and resist all cravings—brands can take a more positive approach. Last year, for instance, we wrote about a Kellogg’s campaign in the U.K. that asked women, “What will you gain when you lose?

In Puerto Rico, Banco Popular gives new meaning to a hurdle jumper’s race

A JWT campaign for Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular that involved changing the lyrics to one of the country’s most popular songs—a bid to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare—won the Grand Prix Lion for public relations at last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In 2012, JWT San Juan worked with Banco Popular on a campaign that sought to keep the momentum going and inspire Puerto Ricans battered by a long economic slump.

The bank, which is the country’s largest, sponsored track star Javier Culson, who was competing in the 400-meter hurdle event at the Summer Olympic Games. Banco Popular turned Puerto Rico into a giant track by placing 10 hurdles around the island, each representing an obstacle the country needed to overcome. Thousands of people checked-in at each one and shared the obstacles on social media for a chance to win tickets to the Games. The bank also produced a series of episodes showing people overcoming challenge, as well as a half-hour documentary on Culson that aired the night before the race. Ultimately, the CEO of Banco Popular was able to award Culson the bronze medal at the Olympics.

Whether or not Culson had won a medal, Popular succeeded in lending a happy symbolism to his participation. The campaign emphasized that everyone needs to overcome obstacles in order to progress, instilling Puerto Ricans with hope.

The Race of a Country / JWT Puerto Rico from manuel on Vimeo.

With Spaniards losing faith in banks, entrepreneur sells mattress safe

The economic crisis has made consumers worldwide wary of big banks. In Spain, where the crisis has hit hard, the government was forced to bail out one of the country’s biggest banks, Bankia, to the tune of $130 billion, according to Time. Reverting to the time-honored practice of stashing cash under a mattress is not the safest choice, plus home insurance underwriters won’t cover money unless it’s kept in a safe. That’s where My Mattress Safe comes in.

A former mattress manufacturer in Spain, Paco Santos, is marketing this keypad-activated safe built into the side of a mattress, allowing anxious Spaniards to keep their money close at hand. A dramatic commercial for the mattress safe opens with a scene of rioting in the streets. After a man opens his mattress safe, a tear that has fallen down his face recedes back into his eye as his anxiety about his money fades. Alternative solutions like this show how far banks have fallen in terms of consumer trust—and how ingenious entrepreneurs are becoming in responding to this mistrust.

In Russia, Martini vodka’s TakeMeHome machine tells bar patrons if they can drive

We’ve written about Heineken promoting responsible drinking by tapping into consumers’ fear of missing out, or FOMO. In Russia, Martini brand vodka, partnering with a taxi company, is promoting responsible behavior around drinking by aiming to ease concerns about getting home safely. The company installed “TakeMeHome” machines in nightclubs and bars: When a customer buys a cocktail with Martini, it includes a straw that connects to a Breathalyzer. If the drinker’s blood alcohol content is too high to drive safely, he or she receives 30% off taxi services. The patron enters a phone number and is then contacted by the service. The machine also dishes out pithy statements about the person’s results—for example, a blood alcohol level of 1 to 1.5 reads, “At the moment you are probably calling someone you never call or telling everyone how awesome they are.”

It’s a tricky concept, since drinkers are incentivized to keep imbibing in order to get the taxi discount. But merrymakers often lose track of how much they consume when they’re out having a good time, and the TakeMeHome machine does give customers a straightforward answer to the all-too-common question, “Am I too drunk to drive?”

Special K puts real women, realistic goals in the spotlight

We’re seeing more and more campaigns that aim to make women more confident in themselves rather than inducing anxiety by putting forth unattainable beauty standards. Dove, long known for using “real” women in its “Campaign for Real Beauty,” recently created an app that replaced negative ad messages with positive messages. Under Armour’s “What’s Beautiful” campaign urges women to take power back “from the marketers who want us to look Photoshopped.” In Thailand, the Oriental Princess cosmetics brand says, “Why be like everyone else? Why not accept the way you are?” and in Slovenia, Avon installed a mirror on a busy street that dealt out compliments to women passing by.

Kellogg’s joins the club with a Special K campaign in the U.K. called “What will you gain when you lose?” With an emphasis on the internal benefits of losing weight, gone are the brand’s slender models dressed in red. A new commercial features real women of various shapes and sizes getting weighed on the street, with the scale showing words like “amazing” and “stylish” rather than a number. On the campaign website, women can record their goals and share what they’ve achieved. Brands are coming to understand that a positive, hope-fueled approach can be more effective than one that simply showcases aspirational ideals.

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