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.
Movistar, one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Argentina, is lowering the cost of unlimited service if its consumer community comes together and gives the brand a certain amount of Facebook “likes,” clicked votes or SMS messages. The idea behind the campaign is that when people come together, each one is able to get more. A commercial tells viewers that after “liking” many useless things, finally there’s a “like” that gives real benefit. “Life is more if you share,” says the ad. The brand is also promoting the concept by asking consumers to vote for which of several bands will perform a free concert.
With Argentineans deeply concerned about the rising cost of living, this is an interesting approach to price sensitivity in the context of inflation. Plus, a mobile provider promoting the idea of community is smart at a time when people are becoming more aware of how electronic devices isolate us from others and affect the way we interact.
With recent crimes against women in India echoing loudly around the nation and the globe, the everyday anxieties of Indian women are surfacing like never before. Brands across categories are taking up the cause in different ways. We’ve posted about Gillette, which is calling for men to act as “Soldiers for Women,” Vodafone’s all-women stores and a Times of India initiative. Add two more to the list: Tata Tea and Nokia.
Tata Tea takes the stance of not just putting women on par with men but ahead. In a spot for the brand, popular Bollywood icon Shahrukh Khan walks the walk by pledging to feature female co-stars ahead of his name in the title credits. Khan is seen conducting an interview with a young journalist, who asks for his opinion on women’s equality. Khan says women shouldn’t be equal to men—rather, they should be ahead in every field, mentioning education, medicine, politics, engineering and media. The journalist challenges his response, noting that male film stars are always billed before female counterparts. Khan calls for a retake of the shot and announces that from now on, he’ll get second billing to his female stars. A voiceover says, “For a big change, everyone must make a small start,” and Khan concludes, “We have more to do. Ahead.”
Meanwhile, Nokia Asha is smartly bringing to life its Nokia Nearby app, showing young women leading a harassing goon to the nearest police station with the help of the app. In a TV commercial, two young women are walking down the street when a man in a car begins catcalling and following them as they walk toward a Chinese restaurant. The clever women change course and instead head to the nearest police station. Preoccupied with trying to get their attention, the man drives into the trap, and a policeman interrogates him.
While brands like these are beginning to tap in to the Indian woman’s concerns about equality and safety, time will tell how far and deep they’re willing to travel. Brands will need to go beyond just taking a stance or voicing an opinion to actually finding relevant ways of tackling these societal issues if they are to truly capture trust and admiration.
The percentage of women in India’s workforce has fallen so sharply that it has skewed the global numbers, prompting an International Labour Organization investigation. ILO’s new report expresses concern over the fall in labor force participation for women from more than 37 percent in 2004-2005 to 29 percent in 2009-2010. India ranks 11th from the bottom out of 131 countries, behind even Bangladesh and Pakistan. The recent brutal rape in Delhi, that made international headline, has only fueled the fear around women’s security. In light of this, there are many corporations that are doing their bit to tackle issues of safety and empowerment for women. Telecom companies in particular are going out of their way to make women feel safe.
Vodafone India operates Angel Stores, which are managed and run by women only; last month Vodafone opened the 16th such store in the country. The idea is to ensure equal opportunities for women while providing a safe and productive work environment, and to make women customers feel more comfortable as well. Meanwhile, MTS India has launched a “Women MPowered Plan,” which permits women to make calls despite a negative balance and offers special rates as well as safety tips. The company also provides free self-defense classes and gives away pepper spray to women buying a new prepaid connection. Bharti Airtel is providing specialized products for women, such as an emergency alert service and a call manager to block stalkers.
Midwinter, after the holidays are over, is inevitably a dreary time. Two years ago we wrote about a project called Smile for London that sought to combat the “January blues” for travelers in the city’s Tube system with “positive, thought-provoking visual stimulation.” Now, The Sun newspaper in the U.K. has launched “The Big Smile Giveaway,” looking to get people to “smile in the face of winter blues.” “January sucks,” declares a girl missing her two front teeth in a quirky ad that launched last week. But she urges that we “smile through the pain, the snotty noses and the rain” and confidently suggests we “kick January where there ain’t no sun.”
The campaign includes “smile squads” that will hit towns across the country to “purvey random acts of kindness, from paying road toll charges to providing cups of tea,” according to The Guardian. The effort is focused around a range of promotions, including bargain holidays and various family-themed offers. It’s the perfect time of year to position the brand as a source of cheer and positivity, focusing on “the things that make life fun,” as the toothless singer proclaims.
During disasters and the prolonged relief efforts that follow, access to information and the ability to connect with loved ones is crucial to alleviating anxiety—which we noted back in 2010, following the Chilean earthquake, and last year, after Hurricane Irene. Now, in the wake of Sandy, one of the largest hurricanes to hit the United States, companies large and small are stepping in to help with at least one major issue for victims—lack of power.
Duracell unleashed a “Power Forward Community Center” in New York City’s Battery Park, enabling people to charge devices and also get online at computer terminals. And the company’s “Rapid Responder” four-by-four truck, which is suited up with power outlets, is roaming the streets of New York and Hoboken, N.J. People can also get free Duracell batteries to keep their radios and flashlights going.
Similarly, Verizon sent out mobile charging stations to several affected areas in New Jersey, West Virginia and Ohio. Yesterday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said AT&T will provide charging spots at the food and water stations the city is setting up. And, in areas where they are operational, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile retail outlets are allowing visitors to charge their devices in-store. Some local businesses also lent a hand where they could: In New York City’s East Village, for example, one restaurant, Percy’s Tavern, posted a sign reading “Friends and neighbors, please make use of our generators for phone charging to contact friends & family to let them know how you are.”
During times of distress, relatively low-cost gestures like these can go a long way in restoring a sense of normalcy for people affected while building good will toward the brand.
This week we posted on our sister site, JWTIntelligence.com, about Rent the Runway showcasing user photos so customers can see how the designer dresses look on similarly sized, everyday women. New York restaurant Comodo is taking this idea into the dining realm, encouraging customers to share photos of their meals on Instagram using the hashtag #ComodoMenu. This results in a visual menu showing what all the Latin American-inspired dishes look like. The restaurant’s menu includes the hashtag, so patrons can readily find the “Instagram menu.”
By tapping into consumers’ love of photographing and sharing their meals over social media, Comodo simultaneously spreads word-of-mouth and helps to reduce any anxiety among current diners about ordering badly (a more common worry as diners get increasingly budget-conscious). Seeing the pictures, and any comments, can help patrons avoid remorse over ordering a disappointing dish and feel more confident about what to get. The Instagram menu also makes ordering more fun and turns the experience into a collaborative one, giving customers a solution to their concerns and also encouraging them to be a part of that solution.
Texting while driving is a fast-growing concern across the globe. Parents are worried about their teenage drivers texting, but seasoned drivers are also bringing a new level of risk to the streets. As a result, we’re seeing more safety messages targeting drivers, such as efforts we’ve spotlighted from Subaru and Oprah. While this type of work tends to take an earnest tone, that’s not the only route to go, as two recent PSAs demonstrate.
A recent message from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration promoting “Stop the Texts” day is lighthearted, showing text bubbles popping up during inopportune and inappropriate moments. The visual device does a nice job of illustrating how inappropriate texting while driving is without taking viewers into a shock-centric, fear-based place. The tone of an anti-texting message from Belgium is more blatantly humorous, promoting responsibility among young drivers by actually getting them to text via a Candid Camera-type setup. During a driving test, the administrator tells drivers they will need to show an ability to text as they drive, and we see them struggling to do so safely (thankfully, away from regular traffic).
While serious issues often call for serious messaging, humor often does a better job with the heavy lifting when targeting a younger, less receptive audience.
In Kuwait you hear people complain about huge unexpected phone bills almost every day, saying things like “They’re ripping us off,” “I hardly used my phone,” and “They are all crooks.” Zain, the leading telecom company here, was being blamed and attacked viciously on the Internet for these reasons. The problem was that customers could not easily access a detailed summary of their usage.
By understanding the problem, Zain had half the solution. The company enabled its customers to get a detailed bill online with ease. JWT then built on the insight that it’s a nightmare to get surprised by unanticipated charges, creating a TV spot that revolves around a man checking out of a hotel who’s being charged for everything you can think of, from using the room’s towels to riding the elevator.
The commercial has helped to calm the nerves of Zain users and also brought to light how transparent the company’s policies are.
The last parliament in Kuwait was one of the most controversial in the country’s history. Peaceful demonstrations against both the parliament and the government led the Amir of Kuwait to dissolve both and order new elections within the next 12 weeks. And for 12 weeks all of Kuwait was talking about whom they would vote for. Most were pessimistic after the last parliament gave them false hope. Kuwaitis had lost faith in the future of Kuwait.
With the help of JWT Kuwait, market-leading telecom provider Zain launched a flash mob in the country’s largest mall the day after the vote, with the dancers singing national songs. The feedback was overwhelming—in about a month, the video racked up 2.3 million views in a country with a population just under 3 million—not only because it was the first flash mob here but because it reminded people of what Kuwait means to everyone.
The Arab Spring got started last January after Tunisians ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, their president and dictator. But 24 hours after he flew away, much of the hope generated by the popular uprising started turning into fear. The social instability, the strikes, the uncertain economic situation made Tunisians very anxious—you might say they were anxiously optimistic.
The authorities imposed a curfew in response to rumors of robberies and other crimes, and people became obsessed with staying in contact with relatives so they could be assured of their safety. Since many retailers closed down, Tunisiana, the leading mobile operator, decided to credit each of its 6.5 million subscribers (most of whom are prepaid) the equivalent of 65 cents per day during the curfew. This move was very well received, a note of solidarity that reinforced the brand as the closest to people in Tunisia.
This move was also the reason why a month later, Tunisiana was one of the first brands able to go back to advertising (initially on outdoor and radio ads), the first to give a point of view on what the country was going through. Created by JWT Tunis, it was a simple message, anchored in the brand values: The future can only be bright. This commercial, celebrating the new birth of Tunisia, launched a little over a year ago. A Facebook app invited people to send optimistic messages to their friends in the future, and the number of messages sent was shown on the app as an optimism meter.
The campaign was one of the year’s most remembered, and the slogan “Belmosta9bel metfelin” became a popular expression to express optimism. The brand said just what people needed to hear, to believe again in their future.