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.
Today people are connected in so many ways, and yet in this globalized, fast-paced world, many people feel their interactions with friends and family have become more distant and impersonal. As we have reported, a range of brands (including Nestlé’s Abuelita in Mexico, Nescafé in Australia, the U.K.’s National Rail, and Tostitos in the U.S.) have responded to anxieties around losing connections to loved ones and missing out on family traditions by positioning their products as a means to get closer and reunite. Skype has joined in on this concept but from the digital perspective, emphasizing that online connections can help maintain strong ties when families are separated by long distances.
Skype’s “Stay Together” campaign illustrates that instead of breaking down family traditions, the Internet service enables people to maintain them. “Stay Together stories” show modern iterations of the family portrait, with Skype video from one end of the connection projected onto a wall at the other end, so the family can pose together; artist John Clang then creates a portrait. A 10-year-old in L.A., for instance, poses next to her cousin in Brazil to see how much taller the older girl has grown. The campaign also asks consumers to share their own stories about how they stay together with important people in their lives. There’s also a personal storytelling competition, and the most compelling entry will win an “Impossible Family Portrait” and a $10,000 travel certificate to bring relatives together in real life.
It’s a rarity today when someone meets you IRL—a date, a job interviewer, a potential roommate—without conducting a thorough Web stalking and “getting to know you” digitally. Trouble is, we have little control over what comes up in our top Google search results. With more of our social lives chronicled across multiple online platforms, it’s increasingly difficult to regulate our digital image.
Keen to the anxiety around this, online security firm Norton created Top Results, a free app that allows users to determine what pops up first in searches for their name. The app, currently available only in Scandinavia, helps users create a personal Google AdWords ad that links to the URL of their choice, which becomes the top search result. “We believe that you should have control over your search results. … Next time someone Googles your name, you’ll decide what their first impression will be,” says this video. Norton is smartly giving consumers a tool to actively and easily manage their online reputation as more people grow concerned about the repercussions of unsettling search results.
As the PR battle over privacy ramps up, so too is consumer anxiety over what exactly to be concerned about and whether to change longstanding Web habits.
Our attitudes toward online privacy tend to be rather cavalier. We’ll routinely broadcast our latest transactions and travel plans as well as our geo-tagged thoughts and actions via tweets and Foursquare check-ins. Ironically, however, we’ll immediately call foul each time Facebook, Google and the like unveil an update that makes broadcasting life a bit easier. As Fast Company writer Farhad Manjoo pointed out in 2010, “We want some semblance of control over our personal data, even if we likely can’t be bothered to manage it.”
With these Web giants coming under fire for violating consumer’s online privacy—which has yet to be fully hammered out in the legal sense—Google recently launched the U.S. portion of its “Good to Know” campaign. The effort, which kicked off in the U.K. last fall, focuses on tips for online safety. The ads comically draw parallels between real-world and online behavior. One print ad features an excited cartoon bandit strolling through a home’s unlocked front door; copy asks, “Ever go out for the day and leave your front door wide open? Exactly. And the same rule applies to the computers you use.” Other messaging breaks down the basics and (benefits) of cookies and IP addresses, an attempt to ease anxieties about sites such as Google collecting personal information.
Though “Good to Know” has drawn criticism from Internet privacy advocates (“This campaign should be nominated for some kind of award for fiction,” said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy), the effort will likely help to assure consumers that Google does have their interests at heart and that it can be trusted with handling personal data and protecting privacy.