KFC harkens back to cheaper times with fuel $5 Fill-Up promotion

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.

Orangina ‘Shakes Up’ workday for overburdened Croatians

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.

Barclays’ Digital Eagles help the tech-unsavvy go digital

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.

PayPal assures peace of mind on payments

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.

Oreo uses personalized emojis to connect Chinese families

In China, where long working hours can make it difficult for parents to stay connected with their kids, Oreo harnessed emojis to facilitate more family bonding. Using WeChat, China’s popular messaging platform, the Mondelēz brand allowed users to create emoji characters that incorporated photos of themselves or their kids, as well as celebrities. Users could choose from various templates and actions, including animations. Consumers could also project their emojis onto the screens at Oreo bus shelters and print out stickers of their creations.

The emojis proved a hit—more than 99 million were created over the course of the 11-week campaign. While Oreo appears to be the first marketer to let people emojify themselves, brands including Honda and Singapore’s SingTel have done various clever things with these teeny images as communications become much more visually driven. Given their whimsical appeal across generations, emojis were a smart way for Oreo to expand its positioning as a brand that brings parents and kids together, in this case finding a way to drive a mobile connection for absent parents.

Canadian Boomers feeling pressure as they consider their money’s future

Canadian banks

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.

Photo Credits: Bank of Montreal; Scotiabank

Mikel Coffee proves good brew can percolate in budget-conscious Greece

Mikel Coffee Co.

In Greece, going out for a coffee is a favorite leisure activity, as we’ve previously noted. But the financial crisis has slashed disposable income. Some major coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee have closed branches and, in some cases, left the market altogether. Homegrown brand Mikel Coffee Co., however, has been doing well since it launched in 2008 at the start of the crisis.

Mikel coffee shops are sprouting up like mushrooms, overtaking established local and international players, and soon there will be more than 100 branches in Greece. In 2013, Mikel reported a gross profit of €991,237. The secret to Mikel’s success is catering to a multitude of consumer needs. The prices are competitive, but not low enough to affect quality and brand perception (indeed, Starbucks has been forced to adjust its prices to be able to compete). Consumers also appreciate the generous freebies (small cakes, savory snacks, etc.) that come with the coffee. The stores are open longer than many competitors, with most operating from 5 a.m. till 11 p.m. or midnight. Mikel also offers home delivery, which is proving very popular, particularly for businesses.

The shops answer Greeks’ need to enjoy coffee out of home and socialize like they used to pre-crisis, and let them do so in an affordable way while still catering to the quality expectations Greeks have for their cafés. The chain has become very popular among youth, and the fact that it’s a Greek success story further helps drive brand preference. The moral of the story: When catering to the right needs with the right ingredients, you can succeed even in a crisis environment.

Photo Credit: Mikel Coffee Co.

PayPal uses World Cup for clean water awareness

PayPal - Neymar

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.

Photo Credit: PayPal

Outdoor ads improve water, air quality

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.

Lion-winning Banco Popular campaign takes practical approach to stimulate growth in Puerto Rico

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.