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.
Anyone who’s ever lived in New York knows just how grinding-down and numbing the subway commute can be. Missed trains and hurried crowds, combined with life’s other frustrations, make for plenty of negative energy during rush hour. Recognizing this, Tropicana offered its Twitter stream for people to vent their morning frustrations as part of its “Worst Morning Ever” campaign. The outdoor component features the tweets with the best (or worst) morning mishaps, displayed around the city’s subway stations. Says one, for example: “Turns out I did check the correct weather, for California.”
The campaign isn’t all snark and gloom. Some of the billboards instruct commuters on how to reverse the negativity, encouraging passersby to help beautify the transit system by smiling. And naturally, Tropicana is positioned as the good part of New York mornings in other posters. The campaign succeeds in addressing consumer stress and anxiety by helping commuters realize they’re not the only ones grumbling on the way to work, helping the weary find some strength in solidarity.
Childhood offers nearly limitless opportunities for anxiety and embarrassment (and anxiety over potential embarrassment). Parents get to relive those moments through their kids—or, turning the tables, serve as the cause of humiliation. Ragú’s “A Long Day of Childhood” campaign lightheartedly addresses the pitfalls of growing up and suggests the spaghetti sauce brand as a solution for parents looking to provide comfort. The campaign features a series of TV and radio spots that highlight common childhood “traumas,” from having Mom wipe your face clean with her spit and friends drawing on you at night during a sleepover to walking in on your parents during their “intimate” time. Each spot ends with a country-twanged song featuring the lyrics, “They need Ragú, ’cause growing up’s tough. Give them Ragú—they’ve been through enough.” The spots end with the line, “A long day of childhood calls for America’s favorite pasta sauce.”
Ragú also created two YouTube videos from user-submitted photos of their awkward youth—full of bad haircuts and outdated styles— and will later include online and mobile phone apps that let parents share their children’s troubles with multimedia and even personalize the song’s words. Although embarrassing at the time, these anxiety-riddled moments have an inherent humor that Ragú successfully taps into, at the same time reminding viewers of how much their favorite brands offered some solace all those years back.
Aiming to address a range of consumer anxieties about fast food—exactly how it’s made and with what ingredients, etc.—McDonald’s has been on a transparency kick in several markets. On our sister blog JWTIntelligence.com, we recently wrote about an Australian TV documentary that the brand sponsored, McDonald’s Gets Grilled, which showed six consumers touring various company operations (from farm to factory to retail), sometimes asking challenging questions. In the U.K., McDonald’s recently retooled its five-year-old transparency-focused site, MakeUpYourOwnMind.co.uk, into What Makes McDonald’s, because “there are still lots of myths out there about McDonald’s, and lots of things that people simply don’t know about us,” a U.K. marketing VP told Marketing magazine. The site includes articles and videos that take consumers behind the scenes of company operations.
In Canada, yourquestions.mcdonalds.ca invites consumers to ask whatever questions they have, promising to answer “even the tough ones.” Questions touch on a range of issues, such as pink slime, chemicals in Big Macs and conditions that chickens are raised in. Two weeks ago the brand generated buzz after posting a video response to a question about why the food looks different in advertising. The director of marketing for McDonald’s Canada takes viewers through the food-styling process, explaining why various tricks and tweaks are applied to the basic burger. Consumers responded to the brand’s “unwrapping the process” (one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2012): The video generated a few million YouTube views in a matter of days.
Competitive pressures are forcing manufacturers and retailers to take transparency to the max—as we noted in one of our 10 Trends for 2010, Maximum Disclosure—revealing ever more about everything from nutritional data to sourcing, as well as the people and processes behind the brand. The ranks of the curious (and anxious) consumer keep growing, though in many cases the simple fact of disclosure will matter more than the specific information revealed.
Lurpak has been setting the bar for food advertising in the U.K. for some time. The premium butter brand is a champion of real cooking, using extreme close-ups and unusual perspectives of hero ingredients together with charming voiceovers delivered in Rutger Hauer’s distinctive, sultry tones to build an inimitable advertising style. But while its “Saturday Breakfasts,” “Kitchen Odyssey” and “Bake Club” campaigns have left us salivating, these days the sight of a chunky dollop of butter sizzling in a saucepan may prove off-putting for those anxious about calories and cholesterol.
With health and wellness continuing to preoccupy consumers everywhere, Lurpak has introduced a Lightest variant to its portfolio, and celebrates the color and variety of healthy ingredients in the “Wonderful and Wise” launch campaign. Print and outdoor feature a rainbow of dozens of types of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and grains, and a well-executed interactive online version includes food facts, recipes and an ingredient of the week. Aiming to banish the sad, dull image of healthy food, the campaign sums it up in the TV ad with the line “Healthy doesn’t have to taste humdrum.”
This Lightest variant isn’t Lurpak’s first foray into reduced fat butter—they already have a Lighter version on the shelf. But where Lurpak Lighter offered a cynical commentary on the dieting world in the 2007 “Fads” commercial (“It’s not rocket science; just eat a little less fat. … Relax, Waist Watchers. Who’s for an extra helping of common sense?”), the brand now seems to acknowledge that healthy eating is a permanent part of consumer lifestyles, and it isn’t something to be anxious about.