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.
Communicating and understanding our pets is difficult. Are they enjoying their food? Feeling upset? Happy? How do they feel about sleeping in the bed versus on the floor? How can we really know? The unknown creates anxiety, particularly for pet parents who want to give their pet the world. So Petco and JWT agency Digitaria developed WholePets, a digital content hub for all things pets—giving pet parents a hub to find sound recommendations on how to address pets’ physical, mental, social and emotional needs.
You can filter tips by pet type and topic to find details on Cat Nutrition 101, for instance, or house training a new dog. Having an online destination with go-to tips from a trusted source not only helps to relieve anxiety about how to enhance pets’ lives but ultimately to be better, happier parents.
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.
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.
NASCAR fans are die-hard. They’re some of the sports world’s most dedicated fans around–often driving 500 miles or more to see their favorite drivers round corners at 200 miles per hour within inches of each other. But sometimes life has other plans for race weekend. A few years back, Daytona International Speedway introduced ticket insurance, a way to ease customers’ minds and convince them to renew their tickets more than six months in advance. The insurance protects against job loss, illness and myriad other unfortunate circumstances that may prevent someone from attending a race.
Until recently, however, this insurance protection didn’t cover against Mother Nature. So last year, when the Daytona 500 was postponed (for the first time ever) due to rain, fans who couldn’t stay on until Monday were unable to get a refund on their unused tickets. But now, Daytona has changed insurance providers, and rain delays are covered. That’s one more reason to book early and keep those tickets in the family.
America’s Boomers are facing a delayed retirement, in part because many long-term investments plummeted in value during the downturn. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, a Conference Board study found that nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 45 to 60 are intending to put off retirement, up from 42 percent two years ago. Annuity.com taps into these financial-planning anxieties to sell this generation on fixed annuities.
In a commercial, the annuity check is represented by a safe, carried by a man clad in black suit and black shades. He follows the check’s recipients from supermarket to sauna to doctor’s office and beach—he’s always there. The voiceover explains the benefits of an annuity, assuring that “best of all, your money’s not at risk from the ups and downs of the stock market, and that means you won’t have to put off your retirement.”
Last year we wrote about how Prudential is targeting this cohort, by confronting head-on the hard realities they’re facing. Watch for more marketers to addresses the anxiety felt by most Americans when it comes to retirement.
Certain purchases, such as condoms, will be met with a degree of embarrassment and social anxiety, especially in sexually conservative countries. In Dubai, where premarital sex is actually illegal, Durex recently released the SOS Condoms app as a whimsical way to deliver the product with discretion. The idea is that users simply select their location and Durex product of their choice, and within an hour, a courier disguised as a pizza delivery guy, cop or tourist arrives to slip the customer the condoms. The video below illustrates how the service works, at least in theory (a Dubai reporter received his order from a man sans disguise, carrying the condoms in a plain bag). While Durex has reportedly halted the Dubai initiative, the company is asking consumers to vote via a microsite on where else to launch the service.
Meanwhile, in a Valentine’s Day promotion, Trojan plans to deploy so-called Safe Ride taxis in Manhattan for two days this week in an effort to counter myths associated with condom use, according to a press release. Participants will get a free ride in exchange for answering trivia questions, part of an educational campaign that includes the website FactsAboutCondoms.com.
The Durex app shows a novel way for brands to shift from simply selling a product to helping customers procure it in real time. The idea of helping consumers keep what happens behind closed doors a private matter is a smart one, though it remains to be seen if the initiative can be implemented on a wider scale or is more about PR buzz. In Trojan’s case, providing a real-life or digital forum for correcting misconceptions is always a good strategy for brands whose misinformed consumers may be too anxious, nervous or embarrassed to ask questions related to the product.
Americans are well-known for working long hours and for their limited amount of vacation time. Which means vacation planning is especially crucial to American travelers. They tend to feel anxious about planning the perfect trip and even pressured to achieve a “once in a lifetime” vacation. Priceline’s Booking.com, popular among European tourists, launched its first U.S. campaign recently with a TV commercial that tackles these concerns.
The lighthearted 60-second spot focuses on that moment of joy when happy travelers see just how nice their accommodation is and feel hopeful that the trip will meet expectations. An assortment of travelers—a family of five, a couple, a group of women—all arrive at their holiday destination, weary from their journey and nervous about what awaits them on the other side of the hotel room door. When the lodgings turn out to be a winner, there is much celebration, and a voiceover declares: “You got it right! You got it booking right!”
Booking.com prioritizes the customer’s experience by committing to deliver the right vacation, with the commercial doing a nice job of illustrating the brand’s promise to “bring an end to the ‘click-and-hope-for-the-best’ era of online travel planning.”