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.
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.
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.
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, 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?”
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 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.
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?”
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.
Last year Banco Popular, Puerto Rico’s largest bank, changed the lyrics to one of the country’s most popular songs in a bid to help end an almost eight-year recession. This week the campaign, created by JWT, won the Grand Prix Lion for public relations at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
The bank wanted to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare (among 60 percent of the population) and a mindset celebrated in a hugely popular salsa song, “No Hago Más Ná” (“I Do Nothing”), by the band El Gran Combo. The lyrics include the lines, “It’s so good to live like this, just eating and not working/It’s so good to live like this, just eating, sleeping, and not working.” Banco Popular worked with El Gran Combo on a new version of the song that goes, “It’s so good to live like this, always willing to work/It’s so good to live like this, moving forward, never backwards.” The bank then started a successful campaign to make the new song the No. 1 track in Puerto Rico, generating around $2.3 million in earned media in the process.
The campaign addressed the bank’s core need (a better economy means more business for Banco Popular) and also boosted its image and reputation. At the same time, it helped to spark a political debate and, ultimately, a movement of Puerto Ricans committed to the island’s economic progress.
Social media allows brands to respond to consumer woes individually and in near-real time, something demonstrated with initiatives like Jell-O sending coupons to sad tweeters whenever more frowny than smiley faces were broadcast on Twitter. A recent Kleenex campaign in Israel picked up on this idea by cheering up people suffering from winter sniffles, but the “Feel Good” campaign aimed to help them feel better in a real (rather than digital) way. After finding 50 Facebook users whose status noted they were sick, Kleenex delivered a kit with items including tissues and a personalized note within a few hours. Every one of the recipients showed appreciation by posting images of the kit to Facebook; Kleenex says total impressions topped 650,000.
As the brand notes in its video about the campaign, the initiative gave Facebook a human touch. For people stuck at home with the flu or a bad cold, well wishes via social media go only so far. Increasingly people appreciate physical, real-life gestures (one reason for the rising popularity of stationery, for example); for a brand that wants to be associated with TLC, making an impact in the physical world as well as reaching consumers in the digital one is a smart move.