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.
As part of its “How Matters” campaign, Greek yogurt maker Chobani aired the new commercial “Farmland” during the Oscars on Sunday night. With a message reminiscent of Chipotle’s animated short “The Scarecrow,” the spot opens on a serene farm, shimmering in the morning sun. However, with each successive shot, the viewer sees an increasingly artificial setting: The crowing rooster is only a recording; labeled test tubes hang from trees; the cows are hollow plastic molds, filled with a white powder by men in lab coats; and the grass is artificial turf. As the camera pans out, a voice-over states, “Most 100-calorie yogurts are made with artificial ingredients and sweeteners. But here at Chobani, we believe 100 percent natural ingredients is all you need.” Then the viewer is taken to lush farmland, brimming with life, as farmers tend to real, living cows and pick fresh fruit. The ad ends with a farmer saying, “A cup of yogurt won’t change the world, but how we make it might.”
Chobani, which claims to be “the only [Greek yogurt] producer with all-natural ingredients,” according to Adweek, addresses the growing anxieties consumers have about how food is produced—primarily if the food is “real” or not. With the dramatized juxtaposition of artificial vs. natural, Chobani reassures consumers that its yogurt is produced responsibly and the way nature intended.
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.
We recently posted about hypermarket chain Leclerc and its price-comparison site Quiestlemoinscher.com (“who is the less expensive”), a popular tool for French shoppers. With consumers in many markets anxious about the cost of everyday goods and exceedingly price-sensitive, shoppers are ever more apt to research the lowest-price options. In response, mySupermarket aims to “bring price transparency to the shopping experience and help you shop smart.” The online-shopping service launched in 2006 in the U.K., where it claims 2.9 million registered users, and is now expanding to the U.S.
In the U.S., the service lets shoppers choose among staples sold by eight major retailers (Amazon, Walmart, Target, Soap.com, Diapers.com, Drugstore.com, Walgreens and Costco), alerting users when they can save further by choosing a different size or alternative product. Shoppers check out via mySupermarket, which “optimize[s] your cart to get you free shipping,” according to a promotional video. According to TechCrunch, the company is also planning a mobile app that would notify shoppers about relevant promotions when they’re in stores.
While many brick-and-mortar retailers are fretting about showrooming, it’s a trend that generally hasn’t applied to supermarkets—but they’re still vulnerable in the face of new digital tools that give consumers more workarounds and comprehensive data. At the same time, however, marketers might find opportunities here: The company told TechCrunch that its app will enable brands to communicate with opted-in consumers—for instance, alerting them to price decreases on favorite items or sending a reminder to stock up on various staples.
Kerry LowLow, an Irish company that markets low-fat cheese spreads, recently got buzz with a commercial that pokes fun at the clichéd women we often see in diet commercials. The spot cleverly mocks typical low-fat-food commercials and three stereotypical women they often feature. “Muffin Gal is stressed with weight and completely obsessed with cake,” explains the soundtrack, while “Smug Gal nibbles crackers all day so she fits in her jeans OK” (cue shot of thin woman happily bouncing back on her bed, arms spread out). Ditzy Gal prances around in her underwear eating yogurt. “Sick of clichés? So are we,” reads onscreen copy at the end.
The brand’s positioning is based around encouraging a healthy relationship between women and food. Says a mission statement on the LowLow website: “We say ‘enough’ to feeling bad about food. We believe that everyone should taste, savour, share and, above all, enjoy great food. … LowLow makes food to feel good about (and our plan is to make our ads that way, too).” Rather than play into consumers’ anxieties about food—the video parodies the ideas that women should only eat small portions and resist all cravings—brands can take a more positive approach. Last year, for instance, we wrote about a Kellogg’s campaign in the U.K. that asked women, “What will you gain when you lose?”
As the cost of living in the U.K. rises and Brits become increasingly anxious about covering the cost of their weekly shop, supermarkets must work harder to keep customers loyal. According to recent research, the cost of living in the U.K. is 11 percent higher than the international average and an incredible 18 percent higher than it is in the United States. In addition, since the horsemeat scandal broke, U.K. advertisers can no longer rely solely on a “cheapest price” message. The public still wants their food to be as inexpensive as possible, but the scandal made it clear that there’s often a price to be paid when offerings appear too cheap to be true.
Low-cost supermarket Asda has previously focused on price against their competitors. In a marked departure from its usual method of communicating, the retailer is now engaging the consumer with the reality of juggling a busy household and bills in an amusing, charming and also honest way, before the lowest-price message comes along in all its glory. Asda’s new price lock initiative, which freezes the costs of essentials for a 12-week period, seems a clever tactic to prevent regular and potentially new consumers from shopping around week on week.
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.
The horse meat scandal is perhaps the greatest food transparency issue in recent years. It continues to grow, and here in the U.K., the majority of big retailers have been affected in one way or another. The country’s largest retailer, Tesco, has felt the effects the hardest, with a number of their value products implicated. This resulted in an apology ad that guaranteed a full refund in national press.
By contrast, the scandal has played into the hands of Morrisons, which can claim “100% British meat” and has around 1,700 butchers across 500 in-store butcher counters in the U.K. They capitalized on the scandal with ads stating, “100% British. 100% of the time.” Morrisons has said they’ve had an unprecedented number of customers approaching them for advice and to buy fresh burgers, among other meats. The results have been significant: fresh meat counter sales have risen 18 percent, sales of fresh beef burgers are up 50 percent, and sales of beef mince are up 21 percent.
As we noted last year during the “pink slime” scandal in the U.S., as consumers grow increasingly anxious about food quality, brands that can clearly illustrate safety and purity will continue to gain ground over those with suspect ingredients.
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.”
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).
As Spain’s crisis grinds on, more of its marketers have been addressing the situation directly, as Agence France-Presse reported last year, “trying to lure hard-hit buyers by appealing to Spanish values of friendship, family, and proud resistance.” We’ve posted about some of these efforts over the last few years, including campaigns from a radio program, Mahou beer, Carrefour, Coca-Cola and Campofrío, a deli brand. The latest from Campofrío is a sweet, humor-tinged 60-second spot that aims to boost viewers’ national pride and give them hope for themselves and their country.
The spot opens with the famous clown Fofito saying he’s read that sales of antidepressants have reached a record, and that with the joblessness and pervasive news about how badly the country is doing, “it’s only natural that you end up thinking you are useless.” He’s speaking about the country itself. So he goes on to create a “résumé” for Spain, detailing a range of achievements—everything from seven Nobel prizes and Oscars to Don Quixote, Chupa Chups, athletic prowess and infrastructure. “Don’t forget today’s youth,” two young women tell him, assuring that while younger Spaniards are leaving, “we’ll be back.” The oldest generation gets a nod too: A grandma is a “champion” for supporting her children and grandchildren with her pension. Along the way, several Spanish notables make cameos, including tennis star David Ferrer and singer Malú.
“You are smarter and stronger than you think,” says Fofito as the spot winds down. It concludes: “Let nothing and no one deprive us of our way of enjoying life.” Campofrío connects the brand with an optimistic national outlook (much like Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” at last year’s Super Bowl) that’s also grounded in facts and faces that strike a chord—and turns enjoyment of its products into a statement about not giving up on Spain or life itself.
To view with subtitles English subtitles, click here.