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.

Pet food mirrors human trends as consumer concern over ingredients extends to pets

These days people are anxious about what goes into their food, looking for items that are “natural” and “free” of just about anything. And with consumers more cognizant of ingredients in their own food, they’re paying more attention to their pets’ meals. In response, marketers are offering products that cater to the growing interest in pet nutrition. Pet food giant Iams offers a line of all-natural dog food, and Purina has beyOnd, made with natural ingredients.

More dog owners are also sharing their own meals. As ABC News reports, Gayle Pruitt, a nutritionist and chef, recently wrote a cookbook about preparing joint meals for humans and pets. Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch promises time- and money-saving recipes to feed your dog the same dinner you make for yourself.

Taking a cue from the trend of treating Fido’s nutrition and cuisine like your own, some pet food companies are going beyond just “all natural.” Innova has a new line of pet food that promises “real, wholesome ingredients from places we know, grown and raised with care.” Recipes incorporate farm-raised turkey, cold-water salmon and ranch-raised bison. There are even gluten- and dairy-free options, from Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods in the U.K. And a small pet bakery, Boston Baked Bonz, offers organic and animal-free treats, like wheat-free cranberry clove muffins and quinoa cookies.

Wonder when we’ll see doggy kale chips go mainstream? Restaurants for both you and your pup? With consumers spending more and more to ensure their pets’ well-being—Americans spent a record $55.7 billion on their pets in 2013—that might be sooner than you think.

Canadians become more informed diners

Informed Dining

Last fall, the City of Toronto Public Health championed the growing consumer angst around exactly what we put into our bodies with the Savvy Diner campaign to drum up support for the Informed Dining menu labeling initiative. Informed Dining will begin rolling out at the end of this month, addressing a concern that many have raised in recent years as an extension of more macro health and wellness trends surrounding obesity: that it’s next to impossible to tell the real sodium and caloric counts in some of our favourite menu items. The nutritional information may be on a menu, a website or a brochure.

To start, the program focuses on major chains rather than independent restaurants—The Keg, Montana’s and Milestones are among those voluntarily participating—but given the progression of nutritional labeling in recent years from packaging to QSR and now mid-tier dining, Mom-and-Pops everywhere should take note of a developing trend that consumers are going to be more informed about before they dine out and dig in.

Photo Credit: HealthyFamilies BC

Danish travel agency goes viral by positioning sexy vacations as a patriotic duty

Danish travel agency Spies has been getting a lot of buzz for an amusing and clever viral campaign, “Do It for Denmark,” which positions a holiday as the perfect way for patriotic Danes to help reverse the country’s falling birth rate while reminding couples about one of the best benefits of a vacation.

Denmark’s national birth rate is reportedly at a 27-year low, raising fears that not enough children will be born to support the aging population of the future (a problem shared by various other countries in Europe and beyond). Spies’ video presents Emma, a Dane seen walking in Paris who was conceived in that city while her parents took a little getaway, according to the voiceover (“If only these walls could talk”). It turns out that Emma’s case is not so rare. The ad claims that 10 percent of Denmark’s babies are conceived on holiday, and “Danes have 46 percent more sex on holiday compared to their everyday lives.” We soon see Emma getting it on with her partner.

For would-be vacationers not all that motivated by Denmark’s demographic problem, Spies has created a more tangible incentive. Customers who prove they have conceived a child on a trip will win a three-year supply of baby goods and a “child-friendly” holiday. The campaign site even includes an ovulation calendar to help increase the odds. (And for those who can’t compete—same-sex couples, older couples—“all the fun is in the participation,” reassures the video.)

Various initiatives around the world have encouraged baby-making, as Time notes. We’ve spotlighted a tongue-in-cheek animated R&B video from Mentos in Singapore, aimed at helping to fuel conversation around a topic that many Singaporeans shy away from discussing publicly. Whether or not Danes are actually anxious about their low birth rate, the campaign succeeds in raising an important issue, turning the viewers’ thoughts to the joys of vacation and stirring up some laughs.

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

JWT London sees under-40s as most proactive and positive in face of austerity

AUSTERITY-INDEX-V5

As the U.K. budget is announced, JWT London launches the fourth quarter of its Austerity Index report, marking a full year of data tracking the impact of prolonged economic adversity on British consumers and markets. The report reveals that the younger generation are taking matters into their own hands. Meet the Resilients, aged 18-39, who set themselves apart via a strikingly proactive and entrepreneurial approach to their finances, coupled with a comparatively upbeat attitude. Rather than waiting for rescue from any institution, the Resilients are taking their own measures. They are significantly more likely than any other cohort to have found an extra job or taken on more work (35 percent), bought items specifically to “flip” for profit (20 percent) and even started their own business (11 percent). Their resilience is also in evidence when it comes to a startling willingness to make tough decisions and sacrifices: 4 in 10 regularly skip meals to save money, nearly a third (30 percent) are selling items they actually still need or want, and 18 percent have moved to a cheaper city or town.

Despite being among the hardest hit by the austerity agenda—experiencing higher unemployment and negative earnings growth—the Resilients remain pretty positive. Their Austerity Index measure is 22 points below average, indicating that their assessment of austerity’s impact on their lives is less severe than most. Their positive outlook stretches to their appraisal of others, too: They are more forgiving toward brands and institutions, including the government.

Some of this positivity is likely down to youthful optimism, but we suspect that it’s also due to the generation’s sense of connectedness. This is the cohort that has grown up witnessing and harnessing the power of social networks, so they have greater faith in themselves and their communities to wield influence and to drive change. They may well be more in control than most in the face of austerity.

For details on the ongoing study, see austerityindex.com.

With Fuelcaster, Esurance gives drivers tool to predict gas prices

The recession may be long over, but consumers remain anxious about their expenses and savvy about finding the lowest prices. Catering to this mindset, the insurance provider Esurance is now offering an online tool, Fuelcaster, that predicts whether local gas prices will go up or down in the next 24 hours—users input a ZIP code and see a “buy” or “wait” recommendation (much as Kayak does with plane fares), along with the current prices at nearby gas stations. The company says Fuelcaster relies on “a proprietary algorithm that incorporates pricing signals from industry sources” and claims it’s the first such tool in the U.S. to predict gas prices.

In providing drivers with a free service that’s unrelated to the company’s core business of insurance but fits with its positioning as a value choice for digitally savvy consumers, Esurance illustrates how to put the consumer at the core of marketing initiatives. More brands are starting to focus on winning loyalty and engagement by using technology to address real consumer needs rather than taking a just-because-we-can approach to tech, which may briefly intrigue consumers but rarely creates real affinity.

Chobani’s ‘Farmland’ spot highlights use of natural ingredients

As part of its “How Matters” campaign, Greek yogurt maker Chobani aired the new commercial “Farmland” during the Oscars on Sunday night. With a message reminiscent of Chipotle’s animated short “The Scarecrow,” the spot opens on a serene farm, shimmering in the morning sun. However, with each successive shot, the viewer sees an increasingly artificial setting: The crowing rooster is only a recording; labeled test tubes hang from trees; the cows are hollow plastic molds, filled with a white powder by men in lab coats; and the grass is artificial turf. As the camera pans out, a voice-over states, “Most 100-calorie yogurts are made with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. But here at Chobani, we believe 100 percent natural ingredients is all you need.” Then the viewer is taken to lush farmland, brimming with life, as farmers tend to real, living cows and pick fresh fruit. The ad ends with a farmer saying, “A cup of yogurt won’t change the world, but how we make it might.”

Chobani, which claims to be “the only [Greek yogurt] producer with all-natural ingredients,” according to Adweek, addresses the growing anxieties consumers have about how food is produced—primarily if the food is “real” or not. With the dramatized juxtaposition of artificial vs. natural, Chobani reassures consumers that its yogurt is produced responsibly and the way nature intended.

LifeLock allows customers to ‘do their thing’

In the past few months, a number of major data breaches have made the news—most notably the attack on Target, which compromised personal or payment information for more than 100 million customers. And with people increasingly digitizing their most sensitive information, these breaches pose significant risks to their online, personal and financial security.

Last month, with fortuitous timing, identity theft protection company LifeLock launched a new campaign that highlights the benefits of using its services to protect customers’ data. In an upbeat commercial, LifeLock shows a series of people going about their lives, with digital technology at the center of what they do—sending text messages, transferring money, sharing photos, etc. Eventually, LifeLock notifies each person of potentially fraudulent behavior taken under their name, asking if they’ve done such things as opening a credit card account or applying for a mortgage. All the customers have to do is select no, and continue with their days.

A voiceover acknowledges, “The thing is, you live in a digital world, and you’re not turning back. And that’s OK. Shop, post, browse, follow, bank and stream. Knock yourself out. Because while you do your thing, we’ll be here at LifeLock, doing our thing.” In its campaign, LifeLock shies away from presenting a foreboding threat of identity theft, instead choosing to reassure viewers with a positive outlook of protection, letting people live their lives as normal.

Swedish trade union shows that living ‘like a Swede’ is anxiety-free

Sweden’s trade union confederation, TCO, recently launched the offbeat awareness campaign “Like a Swede,” with the aim of educating the Swedish public on the benefits of a strong union presence—for instance, having trade unions and employers’ organizations negotiate enviable “salaries, pension, insurances, annual leave days, parental leave and much more.” To showcase this, a three-and-a-half-minute video follows the fictional Joe Williams, an American in Beverly Hills who works for his wealthy father and has the freedom to live “like a Swede.” Joe lives a stress-free life—receiving six months of paternity leave at 90 percent pay; hiring a celebrity personal trainer (for a few seconds, anyway) with his health care stipend; enjoying six weeks of vacation while thinking of requesting a couple more; and role-playing as a Swedish retiree who lives on his pension in leisure—all “like a Swede.” Serving as the foil is Sami, an overworked friend of Joe’s who pines for the same work-life balance.

Through a conspicuous absence of anxiety in Joe, the novel campaign conveys how good Swedes have it and all that they might take for granted, thanks to trade unions like TCO. Elsewhere, the Samis of the world worry about securing retirement and health care benefits, and finding time off for child care or vacation. By creating this dynamic, the TCO highlights how it helps remove the anxieties with which many others in developed nations are grappling.