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.
False idols like fame and money compound and perpetuate anxiety: The disparity between real life and the perceived ideal can make people feel they are going in the wrong direction. The idea behind a new campaign from Vegemite is that it’s the many unheralded people living meaningful lives who are the true heroes and role models, capable of inspiring others to adopt more realistic and fulfilling aspirations and sources of happiness.
The iconic Australian spread is inviting Australians to share the stories and achievements of “everyday Australians, doing extraordinary things.” Vegemite’s “Toast of a Nation” integrated campaign includes a nationwide tour, TV, online documentaries and social media components, all encouraging every Aussie to “have a crack.” One commercial , for example, spotlights “Phiggles the flying scientist,” a retiree who learned to fly and now spends a few months each year traveling to remote communities around the country to teach science to kids.
Brands like Vegemite understand that defining a positive role in society benefits the bottom line and also helps make the world a better, less anxious place. The question for marketers is what sort of world do you want to live in—and what are you doing about it?
Sporadic attempts to quit can cause smokers much conflict and anxiety. When designing a communications program to elicit behavioral change, this raises the question as to the most effective approach: scare tactics or positive reinforcement? Do we need to trade off between creating further anxiety through fear vs. reducing it through encouragement? Research has found that negative content is remembered more readily—since it tends to produce higher levels of arousal and viewer attention than positive content—while a huge body of evidence suggests that positive reinforcement is more effective in achieving lasting behavioral modification.
This conundrum is resolved by a recent anti-smoking campaign from the Australian government. Provocative TV advertising reminds viewers that “Every cigarette brings cancer closer,” illustrating the warning that “At any time, your smoker’s cough can become smoker-with-lung-cancer’s cough.” But elsewhere on the street, smokers receive positive motivation from outdoor ads with the message “Every cigarette you don’t smoke is doing you good,” espousing both the immediate and longer-term health benefits of quitting. Anxiety isn’t a one-way street. You can leverage it to draw attention to an issue and at the same time encourage change through positive reinforcement.
In positive psychology, anxiety is described as the mental state that results from a challenge for which the subject has insufficient coping skills. So it’s no surprise that consumers get anxious about the perceived difficulty of breaking up their contractual obligations for better deals. In Australia, Virgin Mobile is leveraging this truth with the integrated campaign “Switcheroo,” encouraging consumers to boldly take control and break up their bad telco relationships for a better deal with Virgin.
As part of the campaign, Virgin declared the day after Valentine’s as Break Up Day, announcing a $100 credit for people who bring their phone and do the Switcheroo to Virgin Mobile by the end of March. In Sydney, the offer was promoted by hunky men in Speedos with “We make breaking up easy” written on their chests. By encouraging consumers to feel empowered, the campaign helps them get over their hesitation to change the status quo.
Meanwhile, National Australia Bank (which goes by NAB) took the occasion of Valentine’s Day for a novel social campaign promoting its breakup with a consortium of several other banks. Breakup.nab.com.au links to various videos, including the writing of a tongue-in-cheek breakup letter and various stunts (e.g., barbershop-style singers interrupt a banker’s luncheon to deliver a tuneful goodbye). In this case, NAB positions itself as the empowered party, showing consumers that the bank itself represents a break from the status quo.
The saying “A trouble shared is a trouble halved” suggests that the antidote to worry and fear is having support and community around you. Australians call this “mateship,” and as a country prone to natural disasters, it’s a value held in high esteem. Every Australia Day (Jan. 26), Havaianas prompts communities to come together, eschewing the traditional approach of pushing one-way product messages.
As part of the Havaianas Thong Challenge (“thong” means “flip-flop” in Australia), thousands of Australians at beaches nationwide compete to create the longest line of airbeds (inflatables shaped like the sandals). This year, almost 7,000 people participated in five teams. The event is a fundraiser, and by donating the money raised to causes such as the Queensland Flood Relief appeal and local Surf Life Saving clubs, the Thong Challenge has created new levels of meaning for the brand, allowing people to experience and interact with it in a new and mutually beneficial way.
Given that Australia has survived devastating floods, fires and cyclones in just the last few months, creating much anxiety, brands could do well to take heed and find ways to provide equally meaningful brand experiences.