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.
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?”
The economic crisis has made consumers worldwide wary of big banks. In Spain, where the crisis has hit hard, the government was forced to bail out one of the country’s biggest banks, Bankia, to the tune of $130 billion, according to Time. Reverting to the time-honored practice of stashing cash under a mattress is not the safest choice, plus home insurance underwriters won’t cover money unless it’s kept in a safe. That’s where My Mattress Safe comes in.
A former mattress manufacturer in Spain, Paco Santos, is marketing this keypad-activated safe built into the side of a mattress, allowing anxious Spaniards to keep their money close at hand. A dramatic commercial for the mattress safe opens with a scene of rioting in the streets. After a man opens his mattress safe, a tear that has fallen down his face recedes back into his eye as his anxiety about his money fades. Alternative solutions like this show how far banks have fallen in terms of consumer trust—and how ingenious entrepreneurs are becoming in responding to this mistrust.
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.
For insurance purchasers who aren’t moonlighting as lawyers, the legal jargon used to describe the terms of these products can be complicated and confusing. According to the 2012 Global Consumer Insurance Survey, most customers in Asia Pacific don’t fully understand the terms of the product at the point of purchase. Last year, leading Singaporean insurance company NTUC Income set out to address this issue, tackling consumer stress and confusion by overhauling its contracts into plain English.
A TV campaign comically outlined the shift, showcasing oddball scenarios in which everyday people attempt to hide behind jargon. In one spot, a groom’s vows are abruptly interrupted as he veers off and speed-talks his way through a legal-sounding outline of the terms and conditions of their lifelong arrangement. In another spot, a fishmonger responds to a question about whether his fish are fresh by cheekily explaining that he reserves the right to define “fresh” as caught within the past 20 days. In both spots, onscreen text asks, “What if everyone hides behind legal jargon?” before a voiceover explains that NTUC believes insurance should be made simple, honest and different.
This initiative stemmed from the insurer’s “Honest insurance” philosophy and a stated mission to identify and solve customer pains. By making it easier to understand the company’s policies, NTUC is helping customers make better informed decisions.
Educating kids is a task that can create many moments of anxiety for parents. Not all parents know how to cope with the curiosity of their children, and some are afraid they won’t give the right answer to ongoing questions. One of the most feared and inevitable questions, of course, is “Where do babies come from?” In this amusing Kia Sorento commercial, which debuted on the Super Bowl, a father copes with this awkward question by telling his son about Babylandia, a planet filled with all kinds of babies. When it’s time for the tots to leave, they carry out an epic space journey by rocket and touch down on Earth.
The skeptical son starts to offer an alternative theory conveyed by a friend—which is when the father interrupts and orders the car’s voice-controlled music system to play “Wheels on the Bus.” In the end, the Sorento has succeeded in extricating the father from an anxiety-provoking situation. As more cars gain advanced technologies, brands will need to focus less on the technical specs and more on how the tech meets everyday needs. Here, the family car brand shows that its technology provides the tools to deal with a familiar family issue, giving parents confidence that “It has an answer for everything,” as onscreen copy promises at the close.
The Indian consumer is very anxious when it comes to crime and is constantly looking for a sense of safety in his surroundings. In a spot for Godrej Security Solutions, created by JWT India, the home safe brand addresses this anxiety by giving the consumer control over the situation.
A couple is sleeping peacefully when rumbling from another room wakes up the wife, who urges her husband to check out what’s causing the commotion. The husband spots two thieves trying to break into the family safe, then calmly heads back to bed, popping cotton balls in his ears to muffle the sound before cozying up under the covers. The wife inquires as to what happened, and he replies, “Nothing, it’s just some thieves.” The spot concludes with the line “No matter when trouble arrives, what is the need to be scared?”—and a shot of the frustrated thieves breaking into some dinner leftovers instead of the safe.
Rather than relying on fear tactics to convey the benefits of using a Godrej safe, the brand smartly breaks the seriousness of the category by using subtle humor without compromising the gravity of a break-in.
The Volkswagen Jetta has long been a go-to vehicle for singles, but now the brand is also targeting young married couples. A safety-centric spot addresses head-on the anxiety and apprehension new parents feel about protecting their vulnerable new baby. New parents leaving the hospital carefully place the baby in a car seat and pull the car out, only to be cut off by a van. Scared, the baby sees his brief life flash before his eyes—the gentle humor here lies in how short and basic his flashback is. “If your life flashes before your eyes, make sure it’s in an IIHS top safety pick,” says the voiceover.
By focusing on the emotional experience rather than the product feature, the message of safety resonates and takes on more meaning.
America’s Boomers are facing a delayed retirement, in part because many long-term investments plummeted in value during the downturn. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, a Conference Board study found that nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 45 to 60 are intending to put off retirement, up from 42 percent two years ago. Annuity.com taps into these financial-planning anxieties to sell this generation on fixed annuities.
In a commercial, the annuity check is represented by a safe, carried by a man clad in black suit and black shades. He follows the check’s recipients from supermarket to sauna to doctor’s office and beach—he’s always there. The voiceover explains the benefits of an annuity, assuring that “best of all, your money’s not at risk from the ups and downs of the stock market, and that means you won’t have to put off your retirement.”
Last year we wrote about how Prudential is targeting this cohort, by confronting head-on the hard realities they’re facing. Watch for more marketers to addresses the anxiety felt by most Americans when it comes to retirement.
Americans are well-known for working long hours and for their limited amount of vacation time. Which means vacation planning is especially crucial to American travelers. They tend to feel anxious about planning the perfect trip and even pressured to achieve a “once in a lifetime” vacation. Priceline’s Booking.com, popular among European tourists, launched its first U.S. campaign recently with a TV commercial that tackles these concerns.
The lighthearted 60-second spot focuses on that moment of joy when happy travelers see just how nice their accommodation is and feel hopeful that the trip will meet expectations. An assortment of travelers—a family of five, a couple, a group of women—all arrive at their holiday destination, weary from their journey and nervous about what awaits them on the other side of the hotel room door. When the lodgings turn out to be a winner, there is much celebration, and a voiceover declares: “You got it right! You got it booking right!”
Booking.com prioritizes the customer’s experience by committing to deliver the right vacation, with the commercial doing a nice job of illustrating the brand’s promise to “bring an end to the ‘click-and-hope-for-the-best’ era of online travel planning.”
With U.S. flu levels at epidemic proportions this season, many of the bedridden have been indulging in the natural human tendency to find someone to blame for their misfortune. In response, minimalist drug company Help Remedies has created a Facebook app to help flu sufferers pinpoint which of their inconsiderate friends is the culprit.
“Help, I Have the Flu” digs through the user’s social network, looking for keywords such as “sneezing,” “coughing,” “vomiting” and “flu” in status updates, as well as check-ins at drugstores. The app even takes late-night updates into consideration, given that sleep deprivation increases the risk of getting sick. The app then enables users to send a message to their disease-spreading friend and even send some Help medicine. Those who’ve escaped the flu so far can use the app to “find out who among your friends is most likely to give you the flu, and then proceed to avoid them.”
By helping consumers feel empowered while they’re physically vulnerable, this lighthearted app successfully shows that the brand can address the customer’s physical and emotional well-being.