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.
We’re living in a Super Stress Era (one of JWT’s 10 Trends for 2013), and news headlines filled with what seems like more doom and gloom than normal are only driving more stress and anxiety among consumers. Brands can help lift spirits by offering consumers some unexpected moments of cheer. Earlier this summer, TD Bank scored a viral hit after it created a few special ATMs that dispensed gifts to loyal patrons in Canada, part of its “TD Thanks You” campaign; these customers got anything from extra cash to a ticket to visit a faraway daughter with cancer. The smile-inducing video has garnered 10 million-plus views.
To illustrate its tagline “Awakens a smile in you,” Brazilian bread brand Nutrella also jumped on the joy bandwagon with its “Friendly Mirror”: a mirror placed around public places that gave random compliments to people walking by. (An idea similar to Avon’s 2011 “Miraculous Mirror” campaign in Slovakia.) Meanwhile, in early August, Honda promoted its annual summer clearance event with a “Summer Cheerance” campaign, which included a “Cheerance” playlist in tandem with Pandora, piñatas for passersby to swing at, a “Stand Here for Cheer” box (which released surprises like saxophone serenades and a bouquet-toting bear) and silly fun in partnership YouTube celebrity Andrew Hales.
For consumers weighed down by anxieties, marketers have the opportunity to be a bright spot, building a brand narrative based in joy.
Although gas prices have held at roughly the same level for the past three years in the U.S., pain at the pump is still a consumer concern. (Myriad brands have sought ways to ease consumer anxiety over gas prices: Grocery chains including Costco and Kroger, for instance, offer gas savings tied to purchases; we’ve written about Morrisons’ Fuel Saver program in the U.K.) KFC recently offered a nostalgic panacea with a throwback to better days—a time “when you could get a hot, delicious meal and fill up your car for just $5,” as a press release put it—by providing lunch and a tank full of gas for only five bucks to promote its new $5 Fill-Up meals.
The promotion was for one day only at a service station in Louisville, Ky., and included a Colonel Sanders character pumping gas. A companion Twitter “fill-up” campaign let fans trade professions of brand love for free fuel and meals.
Nostalgia has played a major role in recession and post-recession marketing with brands leveraging visions of a simpler past to create emotional connections. By addressing price concerns with the emotional balm of nostalgia, KFC leveraged its history to create camaraderie and build affinity in a still-uncertain economy.
According to this video from Orangina, half of Croatia’s young population is unemployed, and the rest are overburdened with work. To give harried workers some unexpected fun, an Orangina campaign let people order a miscellany of offbeat surprises to be delivered to their offices. These included a magic show delivered by a magician whose trick of seemingly cutting people in two humorously addressed the issue of understaffed businesses. Other eclectic treats included giant pizzas, serenades from a “mini mariachi,” acrobatics shows and kisses from the runner-up world champion of French kissing. The campaign sought to bring Orangina’s “Shake Things Up” tagline to the workplace by providing “more than just moral support.”
As Europe continues to struggle with the economic crisis, brands can strike a chord with consumers by showing support not only for the unemployed but for overtaxed employees. Moreover, with some research showing that Millennials crave surprises in their day, Orangina’s quirky approach to rewards was a novel way to inject some serendipity into consumers’ workdays.
Today’s tech-savvy consumers expect banks to enable myriad ways to manage money digitally. But for those who still shy away from technology, especially older consumers, these increasingly sophisticated offerings fall on deaf ears. In the U.K., Barclays has been attempting to ease the anxieties of the tech-unsavvy with 7,000 employees dubbed Digital Eagles. These tech tutors can help consumers not only with online and mobile banking but any of the tasks that have become routine for many, like making a call via Skype. Consumers meet the Digital Eagles at Tea and Teach sessions held at bank branches.
In a press release, a Barclays exec explains: “We want to take customers and non-customers on a journey to improve their technology capabilities and feel confident to embrace the new digital revolution, so they can reap the benefits of being online. Whether they’re 10 or 110, we don’t want to leave anyone behind.” Barclays positions the service in part as a way to avoid family stress, noting that more than 11 million Britons are “experiencing family arguments because of a lack of digital know-how.” With Barclays pushing its payment app Pingit and a contactless-payment wristband, the company is targeting both early adopters and the other end of the spectrum, showing people how to dip a toe or two into the digital world and why they might want to.
As we’ve noted here, security issues like the Heartbleed bug and data breaches at companies like Target have people increasingly worried about the safety of their personal information. Now a campaign from PayPal aims to alleviate anxiety about making digital payments. In a spot that takes a lighthearted tone, actress Samira Wiley of Orange Is the New Black assures, “With PayPal, your financial information is protected and never shared with stores—like it’s sealed in a vault with titanium locks, guarded by ninjas.” The spot, titled “Buy Some Peace of Mind,” concludes with the line, “Banishing worry one click at a time.”
As more payments go digital and more consumers use their mobile phones and potentially wearable devices to pay for goods, many more businesses are competing with PayPal for a share of this market. Consumers will be weighing the pros and cons of using these new means of payments, and all the middlemen will have to assure potential customers that security will not be an issue.
As Canadian Boomers age, concern is building over the approximately $1 trillion that will be left behind in the country’s largest wealth transference in history. We’re seeing anxieties rise over this wealth transference, as well as conflicting opinions on what Boomers should be doing with their money leading up to and into their retirement. The Bank of Montreal, one of Canada’s top financial institutions, recently released a wealth transference report, predicting that on average each Boomer will bequeath around $100,000. What happens to this money? According to BMO’s study, 79 percent of beneficiaries will use it to reduce debt. Undoubtedly, student debt could be part of that bucket.
Stacked next to Boomers’ wealth transference anxieties, many are wondering: Do I support my kids now and risk my financial future or wait till after I die? A June study by Scotiabank highlights this financial dilemma. “Not surprisingly, Baby Boomer remorse over retirement planning arises as obstacles begin to appear in the path toward the comfortable lifestyles that we all dream of,” says Lisa Ritchie, Scotiabank’s SVP of Customer Knowledge and Insights, in a press release.
With these Boomer concerns making headlines, banks like BMO and Scotiabank are getting ahead of the issue and pointing consumers to the financial counseling and planning they provide—something we’ll see more brands do as this subject gains traction among Boomers.
While the big World Cup sponsors are attempting to score big with a large audience in order to boost sales, PayPal is using the mega-event as a cause marketing effort in conjunction with Brazilian soccer star Neymar, bringing awareness to the necessity for clean water in Brazil. A fundraising drive, Competition for Good, is positioned as a contest among football fans around the world, who donate through PayPal on behalf of 32 national teams.
The effort is a partnership between PayPal and Neymar’s nonprofit, Neymar Jr. Project Institute. Proceeds go to Waves for Water, which provides communities with water filters and, in this case, will donate filters in the cities where the matches are taking place. From the semifinal matches on July 8 through the final on July 13, PayPal will also match donations 100 percent. The initiative is a nice way to tie together the sporting event of the year with a CSR campaign while also driving consumers to log into their PayPal accounts.
Outdoor ads are sometimes criticized as a form of visual pollution—obscuring scenic views, cluttering country highways or covering city streets—but some marketers are creating outdoor work that actively fights pollution, from toxic water to contaminated air.
In the Philippines, an 88-foot billboard that promotes Japanese natural cosmetics brand Shokubutsu Hana is made of vetiver grass, which has toxin-absorbing properties. Placed in Manila’s heavily polluted Pasig River, the billboard can cleanse up to 8,000 gallons of water a day. (While not a traditional outdoor ad, a Cannes gold Lion winner in the outdoor category similarly serves as a means to clean water: Produced by the charity Water Is Life, “The Drinkable Book” is a manual covering good sanitation and hygienic practices that also purifies drinking water, thanks to a paper coating that can destroy deadly bacteria.) In Peru, meanwhile, a billboard for engineering university UTEC purifies air up to five blocks away. Situated within the construction site of UTEC’s new campus, the billboard can filter 100,000 cubic meters of air per day.
Each campaign highlights a commitment to quality of life, reflecting positively on the organizations. In UTEC’s case, the university recognizes that growth and development can cause pollution but shows that it has the know-how to help mitigate the negative impact. These practical efforts go beyond raising awareness to providing solutions to real problems, addressing anxieties and improving lives immediately.
This week, Banco Popular and JWT San Juan won a bronze Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for “My Bank, My Space,” a response to Puerto Rico’s eight-year recession that focused on promoting customers’ small businesses. Banco Popular and JWT have been aiming to infuse hope into the Puerto Rican economy for the past few years. In 2011, the bank rewrote a popular song to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare (winning a Grand Prix at Cannes), while in 2012, another campaign transformed an Olympic hurdle event into a metaphor for overcoming life’s obstacles.
Puerto Rico’s economy is still struggling, and after its credit rating dropped to junk status, the bank took its efforts a step further. Focusing on actively generating fiscal development rather than simply inspiring it, the “My Bank, My Space” initiative gave 140 small-business customers the marketing platform and budget to fuel their enterprises. Banco Popular built a full-scale production studio to produce TV and radio spots, using its entire advertising and corporate media budget for the project, which included print ads and an online platform for these businesses to promote their products. The campaign garnered significant media attention, providing additional promotion for the small businesses and for the bank.
Banco Popular successfully combined corporate and human interest to help stimulate growth, not merely speaking to customers’ monetary troubles but tackling them head-on with a pragmatic expediency.
As discussed in our report “10 Mobile Trends for 2014 and Beyond,” a new crop of wearables allow users to be tracked from afar. And although this type of technology carries privacy implications, it can also allay anxiety around safety for users themselves or their loved ones. For instance, the Guardian Angel, created by JWT Singapore, is a pendant that can discreetly text the wearer’s location to select contacts in the event of an emergency.
In Brazil, Nivea created a lower-tech wearable it calls the “Sun Band” for its sunscreen brand Protégé that lets parents keep tabs on their children at the beach. A magazine ad featured a bracelet that can be popped out and wrapped around a child’s arm; parents then download an app that syncs with the bracelet and lets them set a perimeter. If a child wanders outside the designated area, an alarm notifies the parent immediately. Nivea says the bracelet, made from humidity-resistant paper, can be used more than once.
In some instances, tech that allows wearers to be tracked will be controversial, but this campaign strikes the right balance for parents by being practical, fun and easy. And it reinforces Protégé’s positioning as a brand that cares about safety by giving parents a little extra peace of mind on a day at the beach.