Latin America

Government and brand campaigns tackle obesity in Mexico

Obesity is a major public health problem in Mexico and one that creates anxiety for parents, educators, businesses and the government. According to a 2012 survey by the OECD, Mexico ranks second in the world in obesity, at 30 percent of the population; altogether, 70 percent are overweight. Although the topic is not new, at this point it’s generating more conversation than ever.

The government and businesses are both striving to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy and balanced diet and physical fitness. The federal government launched the campaign “Chécate, mídete, muévete” (assess yourself, practice restraint, exercise), which invites people to have a healthy lifestyle by checking their body weight, saying no to unhealthy foods, and taking the time to exercise. Mexico City has its own program to raise awareness of health and wellness.

Coca-Cola has joined this effort by encouraging exercise, not from a serious, formal and medical perspective but inviting people to move for fun, as part of its “Happiness” proposition. In another Coke commercial, part of a campaign that also ran in other markets, the brand makes a connection between the calories of soda and the energy it takes to do all the activities that bring happiness. The ads invite Mexicans to move in a positive way.

In Mexico, recycling at bus stations earns a discount on public transport

UNAM Foundation

Mexico is said to be the largest consumer of bottled drinks in the world. Its population of 120 million uses an average of five bottles per capita a day, with consumption totaling around 800,000 tons a year, a number that’s growing by 13 percent annually. This massive amount of plastic comprises 30 percent of the country’s municipal solid waste. Meanwhile, with a large proportion of its population under the poverty line, Mexico is also a country with substantial subsidies for public transportation.

So a new partnership between the UNAM Foundation and Heng Plastic Enterprises (which specializes in solid waste recovery and recycling) is both smart and efficient. Recycling machines installed in bus stations accept PET (plastic) bottles and aluminum cans in exchange for points that can be used for public transportation. In the recent past, similar machines have been installed in Beijing and beyond, providing economic incentives for busy commuters to recycle and a new type of transport subsidy that benefits the common good. One problem, perhaps, is that consumers aren’t motivated to reduce their overall use of plastic.

Photo Credit: UNAM Foundation

Movistar tells Argentineans to come together to lower price of mobile service

Movistar, one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Argentina, is lowering the cost of unlimited service if its consumer community comes together and gives the brand a certain amount of Facebook “likes,” clicked votes or SMS messages. The idea behind the campaign is that when people come together, each one is able to get more. A commercial tells viewers that after “liking” many useless things, finally there’s a “like” that gives real benefit. “Life is more if you share,” says the ad. The brand is also promoting the concept by asking consumers to vote for which of several bands will perform a free concert.

With Argentineans deeply concerned about the rising cost of living, this is an interesting approach to price sensitivity in the context of inflation. Plus, a mobile provider promoting the idea of community is smart at a time when people are becoming more aware of how electronic devices isolate us from others and affect the way we interact.

Brahma beer fights back Brazilian cynicism about the World Cup

Next year, Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup. And that should be a reason for pride and excitement. After all, the global soccer powerhouse will finally host its beloved sport’s most important event. Right? Maybe not. The truth is that a vocal contingent of Brazilians is skeptical about the country’s capabilities to organize such an important event. Why? They have to cope every day with the lack of infrastructure and poor public services: traffic, crowded airports, lack of security, inadequate public transportation, power outages, water shortages in the winter, floods in the summer, and the list goes on.

Brazil’s investment in infrastructure has actually increased in absolute numbers over the past few years, but it hasn’t kept up with the pace of the economy. So Brazilians have taken to deriding public institutions with the phrase “Imagina na Copa” when they face daily problems—in other words, things will only get worse when the crowds come: “Traffic jam? Wait until the World Cup!”

A local beer brand saw an opportunity amid the skepticism. Brahma crafted an optimistic campaign, turning around “Wait until the World Cup” and creating “Wait until the party.” The message to pessimists: that a country that handles global parties like Carnaval and New Year’s Eve has all the conditions to put on an amazing World Cup. For instance, “Let’s imagine how crowded airports will be—yes, they will be! With excited fans and incredible athletes”; “Streets will have traffic jams of people celebrating.” And so on. After all, is there a Brazilian who doesn’t like to party? For a beer brand, no.

Banco Caja Social aims to empower young Colombians to reach their dreams

In Colombia, the unemployment rate among young people hovers around 47 percent. For this cohort, the idea of a better future is a difficult dream to hold on to. There’s little hope of saving enough money for a home or going to college. Plus, Colombians tend to presume that opening a savings account will require a significant amount of money and come with too many terms and conditions. Many simply keep cash under their mattress or opt for other informal savings schemes.

Against this background, local banking institution Banco Caja Social is working to address the structural causes of poverty by trying to develop a culture that believes in the benefits of saving via a bank account. The bank helps by offering flexible terms and conditions that cater to each person’s needs. In a recent campaign, a TV commercial showcases a young man in a hard hat who’s seeking to “go further” in life by advancing in his education. “I have to save to accomplish my goals,” he says. “That’s why I opened my ‘Friend Account,’ to save. And I really save without being charged.”

For young people, the idea of having a bank on their side, helping them move ahead, may help motivate them to start banking and to do so with Caja Social.

Mexican insurer GNP backs controversial viral video urging politicians to stop crime, corruption

Mexicans are pessimistic about their future. Crime, violence and corruption have become pervasive, and the upcoming presidential elections have only deepened anxiety (the Los Angeles Times reports, “Many Mexicans are utterly disillusioned with the candidates and dismayed at the choices before them”). Last month, a compelling video that quickly went viral asked the candidates, “Are you striving only for the [presidential] chair, or will you change the future of our country?” Interestingly, while the four-minute film features no branding, the insurance company GNP is spearheading the group behind it, Nuestro México del Futuro (Our Future Mexico).

Acclaimed director Mario Muñoz made the dystopian film, which takes viewers through a day in urban Mexico as child actors dressed like adults commit armed robbery and kidnappings, protest and riot, attempt to flee to the U.S., and even take cover from a drive-by shooting. Finally, a girl speaks directly into the camera, saying “If this is the future I can look forward to, I don’t want anything to do with it” and calls on the presidential contenders to stop making empty promises. The video concludes with the text, “We’re millions of Mexicans who want a better future” and directs viewers to the group’s site.

The video struck a chord, racking up millions of views in a few days, and became a hot topic on media outlets and among political leaders; it was banned from television and pulled from YouTube. GNP, one of the country’s biggest insurers, has been subtle about its connection to the initiative, with no overt mention of it on the company’s website, but some of the Nuestro México del Futuro videos (this, for example) are branded.

While the video could be said to foster anxiety, the website is more positive, telling visitors, “You can change the future of Mexico.” People can submit their visions for the future using various digital tools and could also weigh in via a truck that traveled the country. The initiative is an innovative way to help Mexicans feel less helpless and more assured that at least one of the country’s institutions is seeking solutions.

Roshfrans motor oil taps into male anxiety about new gender dynamics in Mexico

In Mexico, men have traditionally been the ultimate authority of the home, with the last word in finances and other big family decisions. In recent years however, gender lines have been redrawn as women make strides toward greater equality. As men wake up to the reality that their role is changing, they’re feeling isolated and in the dark, unsure of what their role is now.

A TV spot from motor oil brand Roshfrans seeks to reassure men that while they may have lost space and power to the fairer gender, they’re still master of one domain: the car. “It is time that we as men recognize something in our lives is changing,” declares the opening voiceover as we see that even the football stadium is no longer a male-dominated arena, with a pack of young women ogling a star player’s hot body. The commercial then takes us through the household’s new power dynamic. A man prepares dinner with a baby at the hip while his wife makes calls and handles what seems to be paperwork (“One day you find yourself in the kitchen with the excuse that men are the best chefs in the world,” laments the voiceover). Husbands look perplexed as their wives gain control of the TV remote and the closet (“If it’s all about equality, how’s it possible that the closet belongs all to them?”) and make his friends feel unwelcome.

“At Roshfrans we understand that there’s less and less space for men,” the voiceover sympathizes, reassuring former machismos that the brand stands with them. “That’s why we keep safe your last refugee, your car.” Mexico has always been a conservative country, as has its brand messaging; as the country becomes more liberal, brands have started to not only reflect the accompanying cultural changes but also help Mexicans adjust to the new paradigms.

With Mexican families scattered, Chocolate Abuelita positions its grandmother as a reuniter

Nestlé’s Abuelita is a traditional hot chocolate brand in Mexico, where it was established 70 years ago. To mark the anniversary, the brand wanted to salute families that have grown with the product, since Chocolate Abuelita has always been synonymous with home and hearth. Nowadays, however, families are scattered in different states or countries; many are without fathers. A commercial features a grandmother (“abuelita”) reflecting that “It has been more than six years since I saw them all together. We sometimes talk or write to each other, but it’s not the same. There are a lot of us. There are nephews and grandchildren I don’t even know.”

The tagline, “70 years joining Mexican families,” reflects the insight that a grandmother has the power to unite families. Positioning a brand as a facilitator of reunions, and spotlighting the idea that there’s always a reason for families to gather, is popular in this age of far-flung relatives and reliance on digital communications. The idea seems to strike a chord worldwide, from the U.S. (we’ve written about Tostitos’Reunite America” campaign) to Australia (Nescafé’sGet a little closer”) and the U.K. (a National Rail effort).

São Paulo radio station addresses mobility woes with traffic tool

Getting around in São Paulo, the world’s fourth largest city, is not an easy task. Public transportation is crowded, insufficient for the millions who depend on it, while some 7 million cars clog the streets. Cars average just 18 kilometers an hour, slower than some remote-controlled cars. Last year residents lost 2 hours and 42 minutes each day in traffic jams, according to research from Ibope/Nossa São Paulo. Traffic jams can also prove dangerous, with “arrastões” (groups who attack and steal cars together) working busy avenues during peak times.

The mobility problem is a long way from being addressed, especially since the government isn’t investing in solutions. In another example of Creative Urban Renewal—one of our 10 Trends for 2011—media company Bandeirantes Group, in partnership with insurance provider SulAmérica, launched SulAmérica Trânsito in 2007, a radio station dedicated to broadcasting traffic news around the clock. During rush hour, it’s the No. 2 station in the city. At the end of 2010, they launched a new system to collect traffic data: Partnering with MapLink, a website specializing in digital mapping, they collect information from GPS systems installed in 1 million cars and identify their location and average speed. The system can also be accessed via mobile apps or online.

This system is proving much more reliable than the government’s. In mega-cities, where mobility issues generate anxiety and decrease quality of life, private-sector tools to ease the pain of traffic jams are more than welcome.

Photo Credits: http://www.sulamerica.com.br/radiotransito/; http://maplink.com.br/

Wasting time in traffic and long lines? Nokia positions smartphone as solution

Wasting time due to circumstances beyond one’s control is a trigger for anxiety, especially among busy urbanites. JWT Brazil conducted a survey on behalf of Nokia and found that 80 percent of respondents feel their time is wasted on a daily basis—that is, they could be doing something else more interesting. Almost everyone said they waste time in traffic jams, 70 percent cited lines and 30 percent faulted bureaucracy. During these periods, 70 percent listen to music and 40 percent use mobile phones, while 40 percent simply get angry.

We subsequently developed a local campaign for Nokia around the insight “Transform your wasted time with a Nokia smartphone.” Most Brazilians don’t realize how much they can do with a smartphone—all communication from carriers and manufacturers is based around social media features. Nokia wanted to differentiate itself from this model, showing the real advantages of a smartphone. Our campaign, which launched last month, includes strategically placed out-of-home messages inside subways and buses, demonstrating why it would be helpful to have a Nokia smartphone. Fun visuals show typical time-wasting situations: traffic, hairdressing, lines for buying concert tickets, etc. The campaign website and a Facebook app let people calculate the amount of time they waste in a year. The goal is to get people thinking about how much time they waste every day and how they could make better use of these situations with a Nokia smartphone.

Photo Credit: http://apps.facebook.com/troqueseutempo/