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 recent years, the higher cost of living, unemployment and drought have pushed many Thai families into long-term debt. In a March 2012 study by the Thai Chamber of Commerce, 80 percent of Thais admitted to problems repaying debt over the previous 12 months. Many Thais, especially villagers and low-income families, lack the skills to formulate strategies to handle accumulating debt. Instead, they tend to simply hope that someone will intervene on their behalf or that a stroke of good luck will provide the needed funds.
For the past six years, the Ichitan green tea brand has responded to this situation with a hugely successful marketing campaign built around a lucky draw promotion called Richie Thunder Jackpot. The latest installment asks consumers to send an SMS with a unique code printed inside the bottle cap. Every day for 60 days, Ichitan selects a winner, who receives a gold bar valued at 1 million baht (just under $35,000). A TV commercial for the promotion features company founder Tan Passakornnatee as a hero whose mission it is to solve debt issues. The spot reminds Thais of the most urgent problems associated with debt: coping with rising food prices (represented through duck, chicken and pig mascots) and the difficulties of small businesses facing bankruptcy.
The commercial is lighthearted but demonstrates that the brand understands consumers’ current anxieties and offers a solution to a lucky few.
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 “Post-80s” (people born between 1980-1989) are a frequently targeted consumer group in China. They are often described as more Westernized, individualistic, independent and even rebellious. However, along with these glittering badges, Post-80s are under great social and economic pressures and experiencing a high level of anxiety due to high housing prices, a stagnant job market and their single-child identity. Ford EcoSport, a small SUV targeting Post-80s, adopted a straightforward approach to openly address this anxiety.
In this online video, a young man with a realistic, down-to-earth manner talks honestly about his pressure from family and work, and his anxiety about being “short of money.” He mocks the idealistic “pursue your dream” attitude that most youth brands romanticize in their communications and says his “dream” car is one that balances the expectations from his parents, girlfriend and boss. Rather than an aspirational approach, the campaign takes the practical stance that the EcoSport is an affordable vehicle that meets the needs of the different people and occasions in your life. This is the first time in China’s car market that a brand has acknowledged this imperfect reality and addressed consumer anxiety in a direct and pragmatic way, rather than just promising a far-fetched dream.
For insurance purchasers who aren’t moonlighting as lawyers, the legal jargon used to describe the terms of these products can be complicated and confusing. According to the 2012 Global Consumer Insurance Survey, most customers in Asia Pacific don’t fully understand the terms of the product at the point of purchase. Last year, leading Singaporean insurance company NTUC Income set out to address this issue, tackling consumer stress and confusion by overhauling its contracts into plain English.
A TV campaign comically outlined the shift, showcasing oddball scenarios in which everyday people attempt to hide behind jargon. In one spot, a groom’s vows are abruptly interrupted as he veers off and speed-talks his way through a legal-sounding outline of the terms and conditions of their lifelong arrangement. In another spot, a fishmonger responds to a question about whether his fish are fresh by cheekily explaining that he reserves the right to define “fresh” as caught within the past 20 days. In both spots, onscreen text asks, “What if everyone hides behind legal jargon?” before a voiceover explains that NTUC believes insurance should be made simple, honest and different.
This initiative stemmed from the insurer’s “Honest insurance” philosophy and a stated mission to identify and solve customer pains. By making it easier to understand the company’s policies, NTUC is helping customers make better informed decisions.
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.
Manila constantly ranks in the top 10 worst cities in the world in terms of traffic. Congestion exponentially increases during the Christmas season, which means getting grumpy on the roads is a foregone conclusion at this time of year. Last Christmas, one company took the opportunity to lift the mood of Filipino motorists, in a move that exemplifies one of our 10 Trends from 2011, Creative Urban Renewal.
Bringing Christmas cheer to the roads, Fort Bonifacio Development Co.—the company behind Bonifacio Global City (BGC), the latest central business district in Manila—turned stoplights, construction cranes and trees into Christmas decorations. On the stoplights, a red star and a green Christmas tree replaced the usual circles. While the initiative didn’t improve the traffic situation, at least it improved a lot of motorists’ dispositions.
When a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi was gang-raped and beaten to death last December, the horrendous crime spotlighted the fact that, in India, rape has long been depressingly common. (The U.N.’s human rights chief calls rape in India a “national problem.”) To address these atrocities against women, and more generally the sheer lack of public safety they feel in India, Gillette has embarked on a unique journey with a new campaign, “Soldier for Women.”
The objective is to inspire young Indian men to awaken their “inner valor” by embracing what a case study describes as the five values an ideal man should incorporate into his daily life: courage, camaraderie, discipline, integrity and grooming. A television spot showcases men and women from different social strata coming together, and we see men stand by women, as soldiers. The supers tell the story: “Soldiers wanted. Not to guard the borders. But to support the most important battle of the nation. To stand up for women.” Some commenters on YouTube criticize that women can stand up for themselves, but the point is more the final line, about respect: “Because when you respect women, you respect your nation.”
Since the high-profile rape, thousands of Indians have been stirred to rise up and express their anger and anguish through nationwide protests. The issue has created a huge furor across the country, with people questioning India’s very system of basic rights and equalities. Gillette taps into this strong vein of feeling in its social media component: A Facebook page asks consumers to share stories about people who have stood up for women (in exchange for free razors), and on Twitter the hashtag is #SoldierforWomen. The conversations and response among the public have been great so far.
For some time now, Singapore’s fertility rate has been in the red thanks to factors including delayed marriage and childbirth, as well as a growing number of lifelong singletons across the nation. According to the government’s Population in Brief 2011, Singapore’s resident total fertility rate reached a low of 1.15 in 2010 after being in decline and remaining below the replacement level of 2.1 for more than three decades. The government has been combating this issue with efforts such as a national matchmakting agency (now 30 years old) and a “baby bonus” to parents of $8,000 for the first and second child and around $14,500 for the fifth.
Earlier this month, mint brand Mentos stepped in to help address Singapore’s population anxiety with a campaign guaranteed to fuel conversation around a topic that many shy away from discussing publicly. A tongue-in-cheek animated R&B video urged Singaporeans to do their civic duty on National Day, the nation’s birthday (Aug. 9), by making babies. “This National Night give birth to a nation” was the tagline. To “make Singapore’s birth-rate spike,” viewers are told to “make some fireworks ignite” with a “late-night dooty call” (a footnote on ad copy specifies that this applies only to “financially secure adults in stable, committed long-term relationships”). Mentos encouraged local bands to get into the fray with cover versions.
By being blunt about the issue of baby-making but keeping the tone light and the tune catchy, Mentos succeeded in putting this tricky topic in the spotlight and getting people talking about a very private concern.
JWT Singapore and Kit Kat recently launched a desktop widget dedicated to helping young adults manage their rising social media obligations. The Social Break app was created in response to findings from a survey they conducted among 19-26-year-olds in China, Singapore and the U.S. that found that maintaining a perfect social media image and presence is making these Millennials increasingly anxious.
Demonstrating clear symptoms of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), half said they feel pressure to be in constant contact on social media, and this burden is intruding into every facet of their lives. More than a third of young Americans visit social media sites when they wake up in the middle of the night; 45 percent of young Singaporeans do so during lectures and class; and 14 percent of young Chinese say they tap away during meetings. In fact, more than half of those surveyed found it too time-consuming to keep up with their social media commitments and concede the time they spend on social networking sites has had a negative impact on their job or studies.
The Kit Kat Social Break widget is designed as a tongue-in-cheek reprieve from all this anxiety. Its settings enable users to automatically “like,” share and tweet activity on their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, freeing them up to embrace the endless possibilities a break has to offer. For more on how brands can work to alleviate FOMO, see our March trend report.
The fast pace of urban life and resulting disconnect from nature is a point of tension and anxiety for city dwellers across the globe. For Chinese white-collar workers in megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the drive to succeed has led to intense pressure, long working hours and the type of sedentary day jobs that can be spiritually suffocating. Kean to this insight, outdoor brand The North Face launched a campaign advocating that people escape—if only for a weekend—and return to the wild in order to release, rediscover and reconnect to the world through valuable experiences.
In a humorous manifesto spot, urbanites are encouraged to literally drop everything in their hectic lives and retreat to the great outdoors, taking back their sanity in the process. Set to racing drums, the spot opens with a man who’s given up on a chaotic traffic jam (he exits his car, placing the keys on the roof as the voiceover commands, “Damn you, traffic jams”). A man smashes an alarm clock that’s signaling the beginning of his morning routine, and an office worker shoves files into the arms of her perplexed colleague before strolling out. As the commercial cuts across various urban stressors, the drums and voiceover climb to a crescendo, then break to scenes of nature and the sound of a deep exhale. We see people trekking across the plains and frozen tundra. “Your life deserves another possibility,” the voiceover says. “To discover. To release. To gain. Go wild.”