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.
Chipotle’s new animated short film and mobile game, designed to “change the way the world thinks about its fast food,” follows on from 2011’s “Back to the Start.” That film, which was later edited into a TV commercial, depicts a family pig farm that turns into an “industrial animal factory” before the farmer regrets the move and reverts to his older ways. The latest, featuring Fiona Apple’s “hypnotic” cover of “Pure Imagination” from the original Willy Wonka, shows a young scarecrow caught up in the dark, menacing world of Big Food production. Authoritarian crows inject poultry with hormones and package meat labeled “100% beef-ish!” In both the movie and the game, the scarecrow must break out of the assembly line and forge his own path, growing food naturally to “cultivate a better world.”
As we noted in our 10 Trends for 2012 report, consumers are becoming more concerned about sustainability, a trend that’s on the rise. They’ve also become anxious about the processes behind food production (even spurring McDonald’s in Australia, for instance, to sponsor a TV film showing a group of Australians touring its operations, from farm to factory to retail). Chipotle harnesses these concerns and uses them to direct the public to a friendlier alternative: “The more you know about where your food comes from and what it takes to produce it, the more likely you are to take care in seeking out something that’s raised responsibly,” says Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s CMO, in a behind-the-scenes video.
While many are praising the film’s message, others have called it fear marketing that takes advantage of urban consumers’ ideological anxieties. While the film does stoke anxieties, it’s likely targeted at consumers already harboring concerns about their food and looking for alternatives.
Price cuts, in conjunction with federal, state and local government incentives in the U.S., have made some electric vehicles very cost effective, and so perhaps more enticing. But range anxiety, the fear of being stranded without enough power to reach one’s destination, a long-documented concern, remains a barrier to wider EV penetration. The obvious solution is to ensure that, as with traditional vehicles, there are sufficient stops along all routes to guarantee that drivers will be able to refuel, or in this case recharge. Indeed, Tesla, Nissan and Chevy have all opted to roll out new charging solutions, including faster chargers and expanded charging networks. In addition, a number of other innovative strategies have emerged.
To quell consumer concerns, Fiat, in a partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, is including 12-days-per-year access to gasoline-powered vehicles that buyers of its 500e can use for long-distance trips. According to the rules of the program, drivers can redeem up to $504 per year at Enterprise’s companies for three years. And Tesla Motors, which has seen its stock soar, recently debuted a battery-swapping system that will allow customers to have their battery switched out for a fully charged one at Tesla charging stations, rather than wait 30 minutes for a free recharge. The process takes only 90 seconds, which the company emphasizes is faster than a fill-up at a gas station.
While people are gradually realizing that their planet is in danger, that some species will completely disappear, they don’t necessarily accept that they may have to renounce some of their comfort if they want to do something about it. That helps explain why some continue to wear real fur. (Although the demand for faux fur is now so high that some real fur has been marketed as fake.) In France, the love of women for fur and their love of animals creates a form of tension. The wildlife protection organization WWF plays with this tension in a creative new campaign.
WWF France created a line of clothing and accessories made from the “fur” of imaginary animals, called Wonder World Fur, showcased in beautifully shot photographs by Mark Seliger. The collection is actually on sale. This campaign and service prove that doing something good need not feel like a sacrifice, that we can awaken consciences with poetry and that we can find new and inspiring ways to address anxiety regarding environmental issues.
Who doesn’t want to do their part to improve the environment? Trouble is, few people are willing to change their everyday habits, and most efforts to raise environmental awareness only make us feel guilty for not doing a better job—and thus more likely to tune them out. Approaching the issue of water conservation from the flip side of the coin, the irreverent brand Axe recently launched a provocative campaign that suggests “showerpooling” (think carpooling but without the car and in a shower) as a way to cut down on water use.
An animated Web video gets straight to the point: “How can you save water without massive personal sacrifice?” The male body care brand claims its prescribed remedy for saving our planet’s most precious resource—taking a five-minute shower with a water-efficient showerhead while in the company of a “likeminded acquaintance” or an “attractive stranger”—can cut water usage by 20 percent. Axe provides more serious water-saving tips on Facebook, where people can pledge to “stop taking wasteful solo showers” and enter to attend the “Ultimate Showerpooling Party” by creating and documenting the largest showerpool.
Given our tendency to be selfish, habit-driven creatures, humor combined with simple actionable steps can go a long way in getting people both interested and involved, particularly in issues that are more abstract and large-scale. Let’s just hope invitations to a Showerpool don’t become the new bar pickup line.
The fast pace of urban life and resulting disconnect from nature is a point of tension and anxiety for city dwellers across the globe. For Chinese white-collar workers in megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the drive to succeed has led to intense pressure, long working hours and the type of sedentary day jobs that can be spiritually suffocating. Kean to this insight, outdoor brand The North Face launched a campaign advocating that people escape—if only for a weekend—and return to the wild in order to release, rediscover and reconnect to the world through valuable experiences.
In a humorous manifesto spot, urbanites are encouraged to literally drop everything in their hectic lives and retreat to the great outdoors, taking back their sanity in the process. Set to racing drums, the spot opens with a man who’s given up on a chaotic traffic jam (he exits his car, placing the keys on the roof as the voiceover commands, “Damn you, traffic jams”). A man smashes an alarm clock that’s signaling the beginning of his morning routine, and an office worker shoves files into the arms of her perplexed colleague before strolling out. As the commercial cuts across various urban stressors, the drums and voiceover climb to a crescendo, then break to scenes of nature and the sound of a deep exhale. We see people trekking across the plains and frozen tundra. “Your life deserves another possibility,” the voiceover says. “To discover. To release. To gain. Go wild.”
Snowy climates present a lot of potential fears and anxieties for drivers, including getting stuck in a snowy spot. Audi claims that its quattro system uses “continuously synchronized four-wheel drive” to provide unique stability that can get cars out of such situations. In Bulgaria, the automaker took advantage of a particularly difficult and snowy winter to sell consumers on the technology by presenting the product idea in an innovative way: They created an Audi quattro Action Team whose purpose, like the vehicle itself, was to help drivers stuck in the snow.
Over three days, the four-man team pushed and shoved 141 stuck cars, resulting in 141 grateful drivers and 141 Audi quattro ambassadors, as the brand says in this video. The campaign potentially increased awareness of the brand’s technology and an understanding of how it addresses a driver’s fear of getting stuck. The campaign allowed Audi to demonstrate that it’s not detached from drivers’ needs, and on the contrary is focused on solving their problems by providing appropriate solutions. It does so by approaching drivers directly, adding a human touch to the message that Audi is reliable and there to help in times of need.
For many, the most anxiety-provoking aspect of earthquakes is the fact that they can strike anywhere at any time, leaving no opportunity to prepare. Japanese lifestyle brand Muji is helping shoppers plan for the worst with its “Itsumo, Moshimo” (Whenever, Whatever) campaign. Shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the retailer created a website illustrating how a number of its products could be assembled into emergency preparedness kits, preserved-food storage bins and furniture fasteners. Muji says the kits allow owners to “live daily lives comfortably, but … also prepare for the event.”
The suggested kits for work and school resemble a translucent briefcase, while the children’s kit is an easy-to-carry cotton backpack. Designed with various evacuation locales in mind, they’re packed with an array of emergency products (rope, LED flashlights, batteries, bandages, etc.), as well as a compressed T-shirt and towel to help disaster victims freshen up and coloring materials for children—taking a holistic approach to emergency preparedness. Recently these products, alongside instructions on how to use them in disaster situations, were featured in Muji’s six-week-long “Jishin, Itsumo” (Earthquake, Whenever) exhibit, the second time the retailer has held the event (the first was in 2009).
With seemingly daily reports of devastating natural disasters and terrorist strikes across the globe, many of us are on edge. While we’re powerless to do much, Muji’s efforts smartly provide some peace of mind by arming citizens with useful and nicely designed tools, without pinning a fatalist cloud above their heads.
As East coast residents held their breath awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irene last weekend, The New York Times announced via Twitter that it would offer all its digital storm-related content for free. (The paper introduced a paywall in March, limiting nonsubscribers to 20 free online articles per month.)Newsday, a Long Island paper, did the same. The gesture reminds us of Lonely Planet’s decision to give select digital travel guides away for free during the massive air travel disruptions caused by Mount Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption in spring 2010.
During times of distress and uncertainty, these simple acts of public service can go a long way in creating goodwill while reminding those who may scoff at the idea of paying for digital content that shelling out a few bucks provides access to information you need, whenever you need it.
Following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Nestlé customer service got calls from consumers saying they would like to support the victims with Kit Kat. The precedence was Kit Kat Mail, an award-winning 2009 initiative (from JWT Japan) that allowed people to send a good luck token and a personal greeting to exam-taking students right on the Kit Kat package. So in late May, Nestlé started selling “zunda flavor” Kit Kat nationwide—the product had been available only in Northern Japan, where zunda (green bean paste) is a traditional sweet and where tourists would buy it as a souvenir. It costs 10 yen (about 12 cents) more than regular Kit Kats, and Nestlé is donating this portion of sales to the Japanese Red Cross.
Nestlé had already been sending supplies to victims but hadn’t planned a product to support the victims emotionally—one that allows purchasers to “support and cheer for people they care for with Kit Kat,” as the wrapper copy states. The product makes customers think about the Tohoku victims and encourages a more emotional bond. This represents a new way of supporting victims, allowing Nestlé to utilize Kit Kat’s brand value to make support and donation activities a little more relevant and impactful. It is a simple yet meaningful way for Nestlé to use a core strength to bring more emotional impact to its contributions.
Due to the energy shortages caused by Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, Tokyo residents are focused on overcoming the summer season’s power saving challenge. The government is promoting the idea of wearing cooler, casual clothes such as aloha shirts and shorts in business settings, a campaign called “Super Cool Biz.” And home appliance manufacturers and electronics retailers are promoting “nostalgic” electric fans (which use less power than air conditioners) and energy-efficient LED light bulbs, turning the situation into a business opportunity.
Interestingly, Tokyo residents have started to enjoy these lifestyle changes. Although there are inconveniences, people also find it fun “going back to the good old 20th century culture” before air conditioning was everywhere, reverting to old-fashioned solutions. I shaved my 4-year-old son’s head, as he feels cooler with less hair. And people are competing with neighbors to see who saves the most energy.
One of the strengths of the Japanese is that they are essentially adaptable, able to roll with the punches and make the best of anxiety-provoking situations. It is important that companies and brands keep looking for ways to engage consumers in an upbeat way and help them see the upside of their current circumstances.