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 global crisis is in its fifth year, and unemployment figures are high as never before. Europe is struggling with an average of 11 percent, while some countries, such as Spain, see numbers as high as 24 percent. The crisis has hit especially hard among younger people, who feel they have lost out on their future and have no prospects. (People joke that there are three ways out of this crisis: by plane, by train and by boat.) Corona Extra, the Mexican beer, is offering a fourth escape route for one lucky European: to leave it all behind and open a bar at the beach, doing what people always say they’d like to do to change their life.
Created by JWT, this summer promotion offers the chance to become “Boss of a Beach Bar” for three months, thus earning a great salary while getting work experience. The promotion will be launched in nine European countries and supported by a campaign on MTV, as well in bars and supermarkets in some countries. Users can apply via the Facebook application, stating why they would leave behind their current life. A jury will select 10 candidates for interviews, then select one lucky winner. Corona Beach Bar is a fun promotion that allows consumers to dream and escape reality, even if momentarily.
Post-Wall Street meltdown, it’s no surprise that bankers have lost people’s trust and respect, a fact U.K. brewer Scottish & Newcastle leverages in a spot for Strongbow Cider. Hardened-looking workers standing on a hillside rally around a leader who praises the accomplishments of roofers, gas-fitters, etc. Then he gets to a group of buttoned-up bankers, who are told to “sod off” by men in the group as well as the leader.
This bit of class warfare is intended to help drinkers who are more likely to identify with the blue-collar workers bond with Strongbow. Whether the YouTube-based campaign can accomplish that depends on whether viewers believe the spot is authentic or feel it exploits current events. Consider one viewer’s reaction to the ad:
“Hahahaha, right? Sod off, bankers! Yeah! Let’s buy some cider, because clearly this is a company that understands the working class. Oh, except: Scottish and Newcastle, brewers of Strongbow, was just recently purchased by Heineken, a public company, in a transaction supported by Credit Suisse, Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Fortis, HSBC, ING, and JPMorgan Chase. So actually, the joke’s on the working class after all.”
“There may be a limit to how incensed a large corporation can get in an ad,” noted Stuart Elliott in a May New York Times piece headlined “Angry Ads Seek to Channel Consumer Outrage.” As ad man Marc Brownstein told Elliott: “You can’t anger people into buying your brand.”
With government-financed corporate bailouts dominating North American headlines, Howe Sound Brewery in British Columbia is selling an ale it’s calling Bailout Bitter with the slogan “Bitter ale for bitter times.” The beer is usually offered at a lower price than other house brands.
People do tend to drown their sorrows in a recession: Alcohol sales are generally resilient in tough times, with people more likely to frequent bars—and some sectors of the alcoholic beverage industry are currently seeing a spike in sales. While there are serious socioeconomic implications to this trend, times of crisis also cry out for humor and a lighthearted view on what’s in the news. By doing just this, as well as offering a much-needed cost incentive, Bailout Bitter helps remind us that things will invariably get better. I’ll drink to that! —with contribution by Megan Wall