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.
A JWT campaign for Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular that involved changing the lyrics to one of the country’s most popular songs—a bid to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare—won the Grand Prix Lion for public relations at last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In 2012, JWT San Juan worked with Banco Popular on a campaign that sought to keep the momentum going and inspire Puerto Ricans battered by a long economic slump.
The bank, which is the country’s largest, sponsored track star Javier Culson, who was competing in the 400-meter hurdle event at the Summer Olympic Games. Banco Popular turned Puerto Rico into a giant track by placing 10 hurdles around the island, each representing an obstacle the country needed to overcome. Thousands of people checked-in at each one and shared the obstacles on social media for a chance to win tickets to the Games. The bank also produced a series of episodes showing people overcoming challenge, as well as a half-hour documentary on Culson that aired the night before the race. Ultimately, the CEO of Banco Popular was able to award Culson the bronze medal at the Olympics.
Whether or not Culson had won a medal, Popular succeeded in lending a happy symbolism to his participation. The campaign emphasized that everyone needs to overcome obstacles in order to progress, instilling Puerto Ricans with hope.
Most Indian families are of the belief that girls are better off at home after sunset, in part because of the belief that they’re not safe out alone at night. Hero MotoCorp, a motorcycle and scooter maker, is aiming to break down these prejudices through a campaign dubbed “Why should boys have all the fun?” Its scooter brand Pleasure, targeted at women, questions the status quo and asks girls to reclaim the night.
A TV commercial opens with a free-spirited, confident girl who is about to take off on her bike at night when her young male neighbor spots her and says that “Hitler Uncle” (her father) won’t be happy seeing her step out so late. She dismisses him with a nonchalant retort, “Why put brakes on a night of fun?” while taking off on her Hero Pleasure. She is soon joined by her friends on their bikes. The spot ends with her dancing the night away at a party with her father, while the neighbor who questioned her is dragged out by his ears, by his mother. The girl tells the boy: “My dad is happy, but your mom seems to be becoming the Hitler.” The commercial signs off with the line, “Why should boys have all the fun?”
Hero MotoCorp not only manages to raise a relevant social issue that bogs women down but also does so without hurting the sentiments of the older generation. It steers clear of becoming a brand that encourages “rebellious behavior” by ensuring that the approval of the father comes out strongly.
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.
With recent crimes against women in India echoing loudly around the nation and the globe, the everyday anxieties of Indian women are surfacing like never before. Brands across categories are taking up the cause in different ways. We’ve posted about Gillette, which is calling for men to act as “Soldiers for Women,” Vodafone’s all-women stores and a Times of India initiative. Add two more to the list: Tata Tea and Nokia.
Tata Tea takes the stance of not just putting women on par with men but ahead. In a spot for the brand, popular Bollywood icon Shahrukh Khan walks the walk by pledging to feature female co-stars ahead of his name in the title credits. Khan is seen conducting an interview with a young journalist, who asks for his opinion on women’s equality. Khan says women shouldn’t be equal to men—rather, they should be ahead in every field, mentioning education, medicine, politics, engineering and media. The journalist challenges his response, noting that male film stars are always billed before female counterparts. Khan calls for a retake of the shot and announces that from now on, he’ll get second billing to his female stars. A voiceover says, “For a big change, everyone must make a small start,” and Khan concludes, “We have more to do. Ahead.”
Meanwhile, Nokia Asha is smartly bringing to life its Nokia Nearby app, showing young women leading a harassing goon to the nearest police station with the help of the app. In a TV commercial, two young women are walking down the street when a man in a car begins catcalling and following them as they walk toward a Chinese restaurant. The clever women change course and instead head to the nearest police station. Preoccupied with trying to get their attention, the man drives into the trap, and a policeman interrogates him.
While brands like these are beginning to tap in to the Indian woman’s concerns about equality and safety, time will tell how far and deep they’re willing to travel. Brands will need to go beyond just taking a stance or voicing an opinion to actually finding relevant ways of tackling these societal issues if they are to truly capture trust and admiration.
It’s been more than two years since the date 3/11 took on a special significance in Japan. This disaster followed 20 years of recession that caused the Japanese to shrink emotionally: With the country’s competitiveness declining, the whole society became accustomed to getting overtaken by many emerging countries. Then came that disaster, and many Japanese felt they might never recover. But anxiety seems to improving, thanks in part to the new prime minister, who emphasizes the will to be No. 1 in the world in certain areas and is urging industries to institute pay increases; the stock market is rising for now.
Responding to the inferiority complex that Japanese often have when it comes to comparisons with Western nations, especially Americans, the satellite broadcasting company Wowow recently ran a campaign called “Japan is doing well.” Eight TV commercials, which promoted the company’s monthly featured programs, showed a typical Japanese boy cleverly outwitting a competitive Western boy to attract a girl’s attention in a comical way. The idea points to Japan’s recovery and captures a feeling of optimism that some people are starting to feel.
We’ve seen a lot of brand messages in the past two years that can be categorized as “cheering-up,” “social contribution” and “love and bonding.” It looks like we’re now getting to the stage of motivating beyond optimism.
Women’s safety is slowly becoming a serious issue in India. In Kolkata, at one time known as the safest metro for women in India, more than half the female population feels the need to carry an article for self-defence. And according to a survey commissioned by Times of India, two-thirds have “experienced misbehaviour” on the street, but only 11 percent filed a complaint, showing their mistrust in the police.
In light of this, leading daily newspaper Times of India has kicked off a campaign, “Kolkata for Women,” that looks into different aspects of a woman’s life and her engagement with the city through articles, seminars, health workshops and the like. The campaign aims to address every issue faced by a woman in the city, right from safety to problems encountered during the commute, at work, at home, etc. The idea is to join hands with the women of Kolkata “in their fight to demand what is rightfully theirs and to reclaim a city that is equally theirs,” as the paper explained.
A recent seminar on health saw women flocking for free advice and tests. Hopefully, initiatives such as this will wake up citizens to the logical, the obvious and the right.
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.
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.”
Nations around the world are grappling with high youth unemployment, a cause that Italian fashion brand United Colors of Benetton took up last year in a global campaign. “Unemployee of the Year” aimed to not only draw the public’s attention to the issue but present “a practical response to the problems we’re raising,” as chairman Alessandro Benetton told The New York Times.
The campaign revolved around a contest for unemployed people between 18 and 30 run by Benetton’s Unhate Foundation, which is devoted to promoting diversity in local communities. Contestants submitted ideas for projects that could create concrete social impact in their community, and these were voted on by the online community. The foundation promised 5,000 euros to each of the top 100 projects. In line with the company’s history of raising awareness around socially delicate and controversial issues, Benetton offered an “unfiltered” view of so-called NEETs (young people who are not in education, employment, or training) in a manifesto video. Celebrating the ability of young people to find new, intelligent and creative ways of facing unemployment and to come up with their own unique solutions, the video ends with the line, “A job doesn’t define me—what I fight for does.”
Some questioned whether the company should apportion more resources toward effecting change and fewer into the marketing element, a valid point—but supporting some solutions to social problems rather than simply pointing them out is a good start.
There has been a noticeable shift in how South Africans have been addressing the country’s alarmingly high incidence of rape. It seems to have been sparked by the brutal murder in early February of a 17-year-old who was gang raped. There was a strong reaction on Twitter, and in mid-February the public reacted with a national #BlackFriday to create awareness of #StopRape. On the same day, Lead SA—an initiative from Primedia Broadcasting that encourages citizens to “stand up and lead South Africa”—partnered with four radio stations, which emitted a beep every four minutes to remind listeners of the rape crisis. DJs at the stations also used the day to talk about rape (coincidently, the conversations were heavily amplified due to the Oscar Pistorius shooting two days before).
Now, many are asking what this really achieved. Did it simply give participants the perception of making a difference, or did it actually make a difference? As columnist Chris Moerdyk put it: “I get the feeling that we are resorting to a habit that we as a nation have developed recently and that is to complain to each other about something, hear government continually ‘addressing issues,’ holding incessant talkshops, making lots of speeches, but not actually rolling their sleeves up and getting something done.” Ultimately, he says, “We all get used to it and live with it.”
Is there a role for brands to play in helping to drive change? While this is a difficult topic to wade into, marketers like Gillette in India have found ways to respond to violence against women by encouraging men to change their mindset.