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.
In India, remarriage has been a thorny issue, much more so for women than for men. In a patriarchal culture, there is some stigma around marrying a widowed or divorced woman, even in India’s fast-changing modern society. A TV commercial for jewelry brand Tanishq breaks new ground with a sweet, sentimental portrayal of a woman getting married for the second time around.
A bride with a dusky complexion (instead of the stereotypical fair-skinned beauty) is getting ready for her wedding but looking apprehensive. She talks animatedly and fondly with a little girl and walks with her to the mandap (the traditional Indian wedding ceremony). As the couple begins walking in a circle as part of their vows, the girl calls out to the bride, her mother, that she wants to go round and round with them. As the situation gets awkward and everyone tries to hush her, the groom calls out to the girl, picking her up before continuing with the ceremony. At the conclusion, she asks her stepfather, “Do I call you Daddy from now on?”
The brand smartly encourages India’s middle and upper middle classes to get more comfortable with the concept of a second marriage and helps to empower women with this progressive portrayal, showing the bride-to-be believing in herself. Tanishq has a history of offering modern portrayals of the Indian woman: A few years ago on our sister blog, JWTIntelligence, we wrote about a Tanishq commercial that depicted the new breed of independent, working women who don’t want to be rushed into the traditional arranged match.
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.
As The Times of India celebrates its 175th anniversary, the largest English daily in the world is rededicating itself to leading change in the country. (Five years ago the newspaper’s “Lead India” campaign, from JWT, won a Grand Prix at Cannes.) Sponsored by India’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, “I Lead India” seeks to mobilize youth and make them grassroots agents of change at a time when Indians are filled with negativity and pessimism. The country has seen a shocking increase in both government corruption and crime, and Indians are losing confidence in their leadership.
The campaign advocates going beyond armchair criticism, with a TV commercial urging viewers to stop pointing fingers and blaming others. Instead, it pushes Indians to stand up and be counted. “It’s down to the individual. You are your own leader,” says the chant that accompanies scenes of young people joining together to set fire to the status quo. Print ads encourage youth to be the change they want to see (a sentiment often credited to Gandhi). On the Web, the Times is on the lookout for youth across 26 cities to create a brigade that could spearhead change, tackling issues of critical relevance to their cities. “I Lead India” is a clarion call for the next generation.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola installed the latest of its “Open Happiness” vending machines with an ambitious aim: to break down barriers between India and Pakistan. The idea, coming out of a simple insight, is that what unites us is stronger than what sets us apart.
One vending machine was installed in a mall in New Delhi and one in a mall in Lahore, in Pakistan. These cities are separated by only 325 miles but are seemingly worlds apart due to decades of sociopolitical tension. The “Small World Machines” provided a live communications portal that linked strangers divided by more than just national borders, with the hope of promoting cultural understanding. The machines were equipped with first-of-its-kind 3D touch-screen technology that projected a streaming video feed while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live exchange. People on each end (and various walks of life) were encouraged to perform a friendly act together—wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance—before sharing a Coca-Cola.
The resulting video, which went viral on social media, features affectionate encounters, such as a young girl in Delhi touching hands with an older woman on the Pakistani side, as well as more spirited interactions, like an impromptu dance-off between two men in their 60s that went on for several minutes. The initiative was a great way to remind people that their cultures are more similar than different and a small step to bringing them closer.
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.
For many working parents, it is a daily challenge to make time for their children. It’s no different in Asia, especially in a city like Hong Kong, where the modern stresses of parenting weigh on families with young children. (According to a survey conducted in Hong Kong, only 38 percent of parents spend between 1.5 to 3 hours per day with their children.) Oreo’s “Bonding moments start with Oreo” campaign—which has been adapted around Asia—encourages parents to reignite and strengthen the connection with their children through the “Twist Lick Dunk” ritual.
In a TV commercial, a little girl has tea with her big teddy bear, inviting the bear to eat an Oreo with her and showing it the ritual of eating the cookie by starting with the twist. Her father has been on the phone observing her. He hides behind the bear, who gains a pair of hands that follow her “twist and lick”; she then demonstrates the dunking of the cookie. Her father finally pushes the bear aside and completes the dunk ritual with his happy daughter. The spot ends with the girl’s voiceover telling us that the “twist” of a happy moment happens only with Oreo.
With recent crimes against women in India echoing loudly around the nation and the globe, the everyday anxieties of Indian women are surfacing like never before. Brands across categories are taking up the cause in different ways. We’ve posted about Gillette, which is calling for men to act as “Soldiers for Women,” Vodafone’s all-women stores and a Times of India initiative. Add two more to the list: Tata Tea and Nokia.
Tata Tea takes the stance of not just putting women on par with men but ahead. In a spot for the brand, popular Bollywood icon Shahrukh Khan walks the walk by pledging to feature female co-stars ahead of his name in the title credits. Khan is seen conducting an interview with a young journalist, who asks for his opinion on women’s equality. Khan says women shouldn’t be equal to men—rather, they should be ahead in every field, mentioning education, medicine, politics, engineering and media. The journalist challenges his response, noting that male film stars are always billed before female counterparts. Khan calls for a retake of the shot and announces that from now on, he’ll get second billing to his female stars. A voiceover says, “For a big change, everyone must make a small start,” and Khan concludes, “We have more to do. Ahead.”
Meanwhile, Nokia Asha is smartly bringing to life its Nokia Nearby app, showing young women leading a harassing goon to the nearest police station with the help of the app. In a TV commercial, two young women are walking down the street when a man in a car begins catcalling and following them as they walk toward a Chinese restaurant. The clever women change course and instead head to the nearest police station. Preoccupied with trying to get their attention, the man drives into the trap, and a policeman interrogates him.
While brands like these are beginning to tap in to the Indian woman’s concerns about equality and safety, time will tell how far and deep they’re willing to travel. Brands will need to go beyond just taking a stance or voicing an opinion to actually finding relevant ways of tackling these societal issues if they are to truly capture trust and admiration.
It’s been more than two years since the date 3/11 took on a special significance in Japan. This disaster followed 20 years of recession that caused the Japanese to shrink emotionally: With the country’s competitiveness declining, the whole society became accustomed to getting overtaken by many emerging countries. Then came that disaster, and many Japanese felt they might never recover. But anxiety seems to improving, thanks in part to the new prime minister, who emphasizes the will to be No. 1 in the world in certain areas and is urging industries to institute pay increases; the stock market is rising for now.
Responding to the inferiority complex that Japanese often have when it comes to comparisons with Western nations, especially Americans, the satellite broadcasting company Wowow recently ran a campaign called “Japan is doing well.” Eight TV commercials, which promoted the company’s monthly featured programs, showed a typical Japanese boy cleverly outwitting a competitive Western boy to attract a girl’s attention in a comical way. The idea points to Japan’s recovery and captures a feeling of optimism that some people are starting to feel.
We’ve seen a lot of brand messages in the past two years that can be categorized as “cheering-up,” “social contribution” and “love and bonding.” It looks like we’re now getting to the stage of motivating beyond optimism.
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.