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.
“Nowadays every professional with a smart device can confirm that it is impossible to get away from work,” says a video describing Amstel’s “Safe” initiative in Bulgaria, bemoaning that stressed-out workers have forgotten the purpose of free time. People are afraid of missing out on things, constantly checking emails and notifications and sharing or checking in with their social networks. So Amstel is temporarily installing lockers in bars around Bulgaria: Patrons who stash away their phones receive a free Amstel beer as part of a promotion that aims to “liberate” free time for bar patrons, reminding them how to socialize without digital distractions.
The appeal of De-teching (one of our 10 Trends for 2011) seems to grow each year. Last year we spotlighted the “Bacardi Together” campaign that encouraged people to spend more time together in real life rather than on social media. In another category, Kit Kat launched Wi-Fi-free zones in Amsterdam to help people “have a break,” as the brand’s tagline goes in part. And among many other examples, last year McDonald’s Arabia named Sept. 28 as “A Day Offline,” encouraging people to spend more quality time with family. It seems that as mobile devices take over our lives, brands have myriad opportunities to help people step away from technology and better engage in the moment.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola installed the latest of its “Open Happiness” vending machines with an ambitious aim: to break down barriers between India and Pakistan. The idea, coming out of a simple insight, is that what unites us is stronger than what sets us apart.
One vending machine was installed in a mall in New Delhi and one in a mall in Lahore, in Pakistan. These cities are separated by only 325 miles but are seemingly worlds apart due to decades of sociopolitical tension. The “Small World Machines” provided a live communications portal that linked strangers divided by more than just national borders, with the hope of promoting cultural understanding. The machines were equipped with first-of-its-kind 3D touch-screen technology that projected a streaming video feed while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live exchange. People on each end (and various walks of life) were encouraged to perform a friendly act together—wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance—before sharing a Coca-Cola.
The resulting video, which went viral on social media, features affectionate encounters, such as a young girl in Delhi touching hands with an older woman on the Pakistani side, as well as more spirited interactions, like an impromptu dance-off between two men in their 60s that went on for several minutes. The initiative was a great way to remind people that their cultures are more similar than different and a small step to bringing them closer.
Next year, Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup. And that should be a reason for pride and excitement. After all, the global soccer powerhouse will finally host its beloved sport’s most important event. Right? Maybe not. The truth is that a vocal contingent of Brazilians is skeptical about the country’s capabilities to organize such an important event. Why? They have to cope every day with the lack of infrastructure and poor public services: traffic, crowded airports, lack of security, inadequate public transportation, power outages, water shortages in the winter, floods in the summer, and the list goes on.
Brazil’s investment in infrastructure has actually increased in absolute numbers over the past few years, but it hasn’t kept up with the pace of the economy. So Brazilians have taken to deriding public institutions with the phrase “Imagina na Copa” when they face daily problems—in other words, things will only get worse when the crowds come: “Traffic jam? Wait until the World Cup!”
A local beer brand saw an opportunity amid the skepticism. Brahma crafted an optimistic campaign, turning around “Wait until the World Cup” and creating “Wait until the party.” The message to pessimists: that a country that handles global parties like Carnaval and New Year’s Eve has all the conditions to put on an amazing World Cup. For instance, “Let’s imagine how crowded airports will be—yes, they will be! With excited fans and incredible athletes”; “Streets will have traffic jams of people celebrating.” And so on. After all, is there a Brazilian who doesn’t like to party? For a beer brand, no.
From the buzz of the alarm clock to the frantic rush to get ready, early morning can often be the most anxiety-producing time of day. Recently we wrote about Tropicana’s “Worst Morning Ever” campaign, which empathized with harried commuters. Now a spot from McDonald’s in Austria uses whimsical humor to show a McDonald’s breakfast as a respite from a typically stressful morning.
With the line “Not everything is as easy as a McDonald’s breakfast,” the “Easy Morning” commercial puts a slightly surreal spin on a man’s morning, from alarm clocks buzzing around his head to a horde of impatient shoes awaiting him to a claustrophobic sidewalk crowd. Relief comes at McDonald’s, where the protagonist relaxes with a very appealing looking “Viennese breakfast” and cappuccino. Though most of us don’t actually have time for a leisurely breakfast stop, the commercial makes us aspire to do so.
In Italy, about a third of young people are unemployed, making it the third worst country in Europe to be young and jobless, behind Greece and Spain. The historic Italian brand Campari recently launched a social project dedicated to young unemployed people in Sesto San Giovanni, the town near Milan where the company is based. The project, called Passion Works, is the brainchild of a group of employees entrusted with the task of proposing concrete solutions to the problem of local youth unemployment.
Famous for the many cocktails that use it, the brand is opening the doors of its bartender academy to 30 locals between age 18 and 25 who are unemployed, enabling them to turn a passion into a job. Users scroll down the website as if they’re reading a recipe; anyone who meets the requirements can apply at the end of the page. Those chosen by Campari will be admitted to the professional bartender course at the Campari Academy this month and get a bartender degree upon completion of the course in December.
Campari presents a concrete response to the difficulties faced by a workless generation. While it’s a small-scale effort, it shows the big brand’s attentiveness to the realities of its local community.
Coca Cola brought its “Happiness” brand message to consumers in Italy last fall with “Let’s Eat Together,” a campaign focused around making mealtimes more sociable again. For its “Happiness Table” stunt, the brand drove a van with the iconic Coca-Cola branding into a square in Naples and set up dining tables, inviting locals to join the fun. Bottles of soda were served up alongside some signature dishes from Italian chef Simone Rugiati. The concept extended to a Let’s Eat Together tool on Facebook, enabling users to invite family and friends to eat with them.
While “eating together is a primary source of happiness,” as the brand notes in this case study video, our busy professional lives are draining any quality time we have with our friends and family. Italy, the birthplace of the Slow Food Movement, seems like an ideal place to pitch a message that Coke has been spreading across markets (we wrote about the German campaign “Coke sets the table” several years ago).
We’ve written about Heineken promoting responsible drinking by tapping into consumers’ fear of missing out, or FOMO. In Russia, Martini brand vodka, partnering with a taxi company, is promoting responsible behavior around drinking by aiming to ease concerns about getting home safely. The company installed “TakeMeHome” machines in nightclubs and bars: When a customer buys a cocktail with Martini, it includes a straw that connects to a Breathalyzer. If the drinker’s blood alcohol content is too high to drive safely, he or she receives 30% off taxi services. The patron enters a phone number and is then contacted by the service. The machine also dishes out pithy statements about the person’s results—for example, a blood alcohol level of 1 to 1.5 reads, “At the moment you are probably calling someone you never call or telling everyone how awesome they are.”
It’s a tricky concept, since drinkers are incentivized to keep imbibing in order to get the taxi discount. But merrymakers often lose track of how much they consume when they’re out having a good time, and the TakeMeHome machine does give customers a straightforward answer to the all-too-common question, “Am I too drunk to drive?”
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.
Convincing consumers to drink responsibly is no small task. Local authorities often create public service initiatives that confront drinkers with the potentially brutal consequences of over-indulging. The New York City Health Department, for example, is running an ad campaign that shows excessive drinking leading to violence and even hospitalization. And a controversial campaign from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board played up the link between alcohol abuse and rape. While these are designed to provoke guilt and shame among the target audience, one study has questioned the efficacy of this strategy.
By contrast, Heineken’s recently launched “Sunrise” campaign works to inspire a different anxiety: tapping into FOMO, or the fear of missing out. An 85-second video shows a man drinking responsibly at an epic Heineken-sponsored party; while some partyers appear to become incapacitated, this man eventually walks out to enjoy the sunrise with a sexy woman on his arm (celebrity DJ Audrey Napoleon). The tagline: “Sunrise belongs to moderate drinkers.” A social media component asks all-night partyers to “Tweet your sunrise and celebrate with the world.”
Here, drinking too much means missing out on the best parts of a great night out. It’s a more subtle approach that spotlights the upside of curbing one’s intake: While a few beers can help fuel the fun times, any more than that and you risk dropping out of the festivities too soon.
With continued forecasts of economic gloom in various parts of the world, the usual focus on unfettered holiday spending feels out of sync with the times. So some shoppers are embracing the idea of simple pleasures, opting for a less materialistic season. With retailers reporting depressed sales figures in an economically cautious Britain, for instance, The Christian Science Monitor reports anecdotal evidence of less-commercial holiday outings, such as an uptick of interest in carol concerts.
Some marketers are tapping into this mindset by emphasizing relationships and togetherness rather than overstuffed Christmas stockings. In a heartwarming spot set to Jimmy Durante’s mid-century classic “Make Someone Happy,” Vodafone reminds viewers that “It’s the little things we all do at Christmas that make us happy.” The spot shows people giving “free” gifts, such as cleaning the snow off a neighbor’s car or calling in a radio song dedication for a friend.
Jack Daniel’s is more direct in its approach, with the line “It’s not what’s under the tree that matters. It’s who’s around it.” A print ad and commercial show residents of Lynchburg, Tenn.—home to the iconic American distiller—coming together for the lighting of a giant Christmas tree constructed from whiskey barrels. The concept is meant to pay homage to the brand’s 19th-century founder, who supposedly “liked to bring people together at his home during the holidays,” harkening back to a time of simpler celebrations.
As brands and consumers alike work out how to navigate the new normal in the year ahead, watch for marketers to focus on the basic pleasure of bringing loved ones together.