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.
Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest causes of anxiety, especially when dealing with it alone. An online ad for Google demonstrates how the company’s tools, such as Google Chat or Google+, can help people deal with their uncertainties and worries together. In showing a young couple expecting a baby imminently—the most tense of times—Google illustrates its claim to “make the web work for you.”
The sweet two-minute film illustrates how the couple stay in touch throughout the day, using Google, and seek answers to their pressing questions. The wife seeks natural ways to cope with labor, the husband nervously calculates tuition fees, and each of them searches for baby names (the wife lands on Beatrice for a girl, the husband on Elvis for a boy). The wife seeks advice from friends on Google+, wondering how to tell her husband there will no longer be room for his record collection. Finally, the location-sharing feature comes in handy when the contractions begin, allowing the husband to find his wife and get to the hospital in time.
Google successfully conveys that it is more than a search engine and that its various products can make daily life easier, more efficient and even less anxious.
The horse meat scandal is perhaps the greatest food transparency issue in recent years. It continues to grow, and here in the U.K., the majority of big retailers have been affected in one way or another. The country’s largest retailer, Tesco, has felt the effects the hardest, with a number of their value products implicated. This resulted in an apology ad that guaranteed a full refund in national press.
By contrast, the scandal has played into the hands of Morrisons, which can claim “100% British meat” and has around 1,700 butchers across 500 in-store butcher counters in the U.K. They capitalized on the scandal with ads stating, “100% British. 100% of the time.” Morrisons has said they’ve had an unprecedented number of customers approaching them for advice and to buy fresh burgers, among other meats. The results have been significant: fresh meat counter sales have risen 18 percent, sales of fresh beef burgers are up 50 percent, and sales of beef mince are up 21 percent.
As we noted last year during the “pink slime” scandal in the U.S., as consumers grow increasingly anxious about food quality, brands that can clearly illustrate safety and purity will continue to gain ground over those with suspect ingredients.
Women feel constantly under pressure to meet society’s “beauty standard.” From cosmetics to fashion, brands play a major role in how this “beauty standard” is defined and perceived. More often than not, women end up feeling like they’ve failed to meet what is generally an unattainable notion of beauty, resulting in anxiety and low self-esteem. We’ve posted about several marketers that have addressed this issue, including Under Armour (whose “What’s Beautiful” campaign urged women to take power back “from the marketers who want us to look Photoshopped”) and Thai cosmetic brand Oriental Princess, which told women, “Why be like everyone else? Why not accept the way you are?”
Dove, known for using “real” women in its “Campaign for Real Beauty,” last year created an app that replaced negative ad messages with positive messages. In its mission to take a stand against other beauty brands, Dove is trying to transform beauty into a source of confidence, proving to its audience how blind they are when it comes to self-perception—and that they are “more beautiful than you think,” as its latest campaign demonstrates. In a social experiment that quickly went viral, Dove hired an FBI-trained forensic sketch artist and had him draw portraits of women based on their own descriptions of themselves and then descriptions provided by relative strangers. The differences between the two sketches said it all: The women look more beautiful, happier and fresh in the sketch based on the stranger’s description.
Anxiety is all about uncertainty, so Dove is giving women a reaffirmation of their beauty. Sometimes all we need is a reminder.
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.
Unlike most of the other BRIC countries, the level of financial literacy is quite low in South Africa, as evidenced by our lack of a saving culture. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2011-12 Global Competitiveness Report, South Africa ranks 72nd in the world for its gross national savings, well behind China, which is second, India (15th) and Russia (44th). One finds that many South Africans hold a deep-seated belief that managing money is difficult—so difficult that it’s considered less stressful to put your head in the sand when it comes to all things financial than to tackle the issue head on.
This isn’t surprising, given that the South African banking industry has been notorious for making money management difficult. In the last 18 months, however, there has been a seismic shift in the industry with the realization that more value lies in helping people break through this fear. One example comes from Nedbank, one of the top four retail banks here, which launched My Financial Life, a free application that pulls together and analyzes all your financial information, then offers a snapshot view of your financial well-being. It also provides six core functions to help users analyze their behavior and manage their money in an easy-to-understand way. Tools include a net-worth calculation tool; a spend analysis function; a budgeting tool; a saving-for-a-goal feature; alerts; and a calendar view, which helps track debit orders against payments owed. The best part is that it’s available to all consumers, whether they are customers of the bank or not.
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.
Educating kids is a task that can create many moments of anxiety for parents. Not all parents know how to cope with the curiosity of their children, and some are afraid they won’t give the right answer to ongoing questions. One of the most feared and inevitable questions, of course, is “Where do babies come from?” In this amusing Kia Sorento commercial, which debuted on the Super Bowl, a father copes with this awkward question by telling his son about Babylandia, a planet filled with all kinds of babies. When it’s time for the tots to leave, they carry out an epic space journey by rocket and touch down on Earth.
The skeptical son starts to offer an alternative theory conveyed by a friend—which is when the father interrupts and orders the car’s voice-controlled music system to play “Wheels on the Bus.” In the end, the Sorento has succeeded in extricating the father from an anxiety-provoking situation. As more cars gain advanced technologies, brands will need to focus less on the technical specs and more on how the tech meets everyday needs. Here, the family car brand shows that its technology provides the tools to deal with a familiar family issue, giving parents confidence that “It has an answer for everything,” as onscreen copy promises at the close.
As the struggling U.K. economy emerges out of another winter, Lurpak Butter is advocating a traditional British approach to adversity. Acknowledging that just getting though the week has become tougher, the brand shows how hard work and effort has its own rewards—although apparently these come in the shape of a shepherd’s pie or bread and butter pudding, in the short term.
“If we can get through an Ice Age, we can get through this week,” declares the voiceover in a humorously over-dramatic spot that showcases sensual food shots. “Tomorrow, we’re ready for you.” With outdoor posters highlighting qualities like “Optimism” and “Strength,” Lurpak firmly places the power to endure in the hands of the British public, evoking its infamous “stiff upper lip.”