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.
The financial crisis took a severe toll on Greece’s banking industry and put a huge amount of pressure on Greeks holding consumer debt (mortgages, credit cards, etc.). Bad debt is a major issue in the country, and the news has been filled with stories of people struggling to meet their financial obligations. Until now, however, Greek banks have been reluctant to address people’s anxiety about their debt for fear of being insensitive or undermining confidence in the banking sector overall.
Now, together with JWT Athens, one of Greece’s leading banks has taken the brave step to actively communicate a program that seeks to find solutions to customers’ debt problems. Alpha Bank’s “We find solutions” website feeds in entirely anonymous data about consumer debt problems and the bank’s initial solutions. This means consumers should feel more confident to visit the bank and discuss their problems, and also more positive about getting a successful outcome.
The TV campaign features a popular Greek actor expressing the anxiety many consumers feel about approaching the bank with their problems. The scenario depicts him nervously practicing what to say to the bank manager until his son suggests he visit the “We find solutions” website so he can feel more confident in broaching the topic. Initial research found the ads resonated strongly, and they scored particularly high on relevance, persuasion and likability—particularly for a bank ad—proving that sometimes it pays to be courageous.
The ever-rising cost of housing across key markets has long been a source of anxiety for Canadians—an important factor for banks to be conscious of when finding ways to connect with their consumers. A recent report by Royal Bank of Canada highlights that point of anxiety. Based on Statistics Canada’s most recent Survey of Financial Security, the report uses data broken out by household age. And while the ongoing rise in home prices has meant increased net worth for many older Canadians, it’s meant more debt for younger ones.
Royal Bank of Canada has used dynamic ways to connect with this cohort of new home buyers and help ease the stress that comes along with a first mortgage. Earlier this year they posted faux movie trailers to YouTube that reflect the different types of stress encountered in the mortgage process. For the overwhelmed, they created a drama, and there’s a horror theme for those intimidated by it all; for people who are more excited than stressed, there’s a romantic comedy.
The campaign, which includes clickable links to relevant RBC sites and social content, taps into consumer anxiety and positions RBC as an understanding expert in the process. As home prices continue to rise and uncertainty about the debt taken on remains, banks will need to find more ways to reassure and aid consumers.
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 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.
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.
Two years ago, we wrote about FirstBank’s “History Lessons” campaign, which cautioned consumers to stick to sound financial decisions, highlighting examples of past investments gone wrong (Holland’s tulip mania in 1637, stock speculation in 1929 and the recent housing bubble). With consumers anxious over being caught in a vulnerable financial position, the ad dissuaded them from “Get rich quick” schemes. Now, the Colorado-based bank wants to “Restore your faith in free.”
A commercial shows a brand new leather couch, flat-screen TV and floor lamp in the middle of a public square, with a large sign declaring “Free.” Footage captures passersby strolling past the items with a fleeting glance, looking around for “the catch” or approaching with extreme skepticism. Some go in for a closer look, but poking and prodding does little to assuage their doubts. The voiceover asks: “Have you ever noticed how skeptical people are of ‘free’? As if the word ‘free’ automatically means something must be wrong. But what if ‘free’ really just meant ‘free’?” The ad closes with FirstBank’s free offerings.
Print ads proclaimed “Free happens” and included giveaways that ranged from free pedicab rides to and from Colorado Rockies home games to 1,500 free meals from a food truck, which posted a sign stating, “There is such a thing as a free lunch.”
It’s easy to be skeptical and cynical today, so FirstBank reminds consumers that if they can turn off their anxiety, not everything is too good to be true.
In Colombia, the unemployment rate among young people hovers around 47 percent. For this cohort, the idea of a better future is a difficult dream to hold on to. There’s little hope of saving enough money for a home or going to college. Plus, Colombians tend to presume that opening a savings account will require a significant amount of money and come with too many terms and conditions. Many simply keep cash under their mattress or opt for other informal savings schemes.
Against this background, local banking institution Banco Caja Social is working to address the structural causes of poverty by trying to develop a culture that believes in the benefits of saving via a bank account. The bank helps by offering flexible terms and conditions that cater to each person’s needs. In a recent campaign, a TV commercial showcases a young man in a hard hat who’s seeking to “go further” in life by advancing in his education. “I have to save to accomplish my goals,” he says. “That’s why I opened my ‘Friend Account,’ to save. And I really save without being charged.”
For young people, the idea of having a bank on their side, helping them move ahead, may help motivate them to start banking and to do so with Caja Social.