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.
Wasting time due to circumstances beyond one’s control is a trigger for anxiety, especially among busy urbanites. JWT Brazil conducted a survey on behalf of Nokia and found that 80 percent of respondents feel their time is wasted on a daily basis—that is, they could be doing something else more interesting. Almost everyone said they waste time in traffic jams, 70 percent cited lines and 30 percent faulted bureaucracy. During these periods, 70 percent listen to music and 40 percent use mobile phones, while 40 percent simply get angry.
We subsequently developed a local campaign for Nokia around the insight “Transform your wasted time with a Nokia smartphone.” Most Brazilians don’t realize how much they can do with a smartphone—all communication from carriers and manufacturers is based around social media features. Nokia wanted to differentiate itself from this model, showing the real advantages of a smartphone. Our campaign, which launched last month, includes strategically placed out-of-home messages inside subways and buses, demonstrating why it would be helpful to have a Nokia smartphone. Fun visuals show typical time-wasting situations: traffic, hairdressing, lines for buying concert tickets, etc. The campaign website and a Facebook app let people calculate the amount of time they waste in a year. The goal is to get people thinking about how much time they waste every day and how they could make better use of these situations with a Nokia smartphone.
Dulux Paints recently ran a full-page ad in a national daily here indicating a fall in outbound tourism from India thanks to its “Colours of the World” range—they bring the mood and feel of Rome, New York, London and Paris to your home, so you never need to leave. The pitch cleverly appeals to anxious consumers who are cocooning; while spending more time at home, where they feel safe and secure, they still want a taste of adventure within the comfort of their four walls. The ad also comes at a time when a small but growing number of wealthy young travelers are becoming more adventurous and interested in other cultures than older Indians (a trend recently covered byTime). Those who are curious about the wider world but still somewhat fearful of the unknown can get a safe taste of it with an adventurous paint color.
Dulux’s initiative has nicely tapped into these needs, in addition to proving that paint doesn’t have to be boring—a lesson that other products traditionally not associated with adventure/discovery can perhaps learn from.
Etisalat, a telecommunications services provider, has used cutthroat prices and competitive promotions to maintain an edge since arriving in the Egyptian market. Its latest campaign, promoting a package that provides free intra-company minutes and SMS messages, is a direct response to the diminishing funds allocated to corporate employees. Claiming that Etisalat offers the “most affordable corporate bill,” the TV commercial is a comedic look at recession cost-cutting.
Corporate honchos are shown going to extremes such as firing half the employees, maximizing as much space as possible, giving out hand-held fans (batteries not included) to cut down on AC bills, limiting lunch breaks to just one minute and traveling by any means possible. The humor of the ad, as well as its ability to relate to the circumstances of many people, helped push the product forward. In a market where a lot of the communication is failing to recognize the effects of the recession, this ad cut through the noisy clutter and was spot-on for many corporations.
Last month, Virgin Mobile Canada launched a blog to expand on its” Screw You Recession!” campaign, which kicked off earlier this year with an outdoor and online marketing campaign to bring “positivity and hope” to young Canadians. It features a “Recession Mood Meter” (you can click on five options, from “Everything sucks huge!” to “The recession ain’t getting me down!”); a “Canadian Screw-u-lator,” which calculates how much you can save in a month or a year after specifying how you will cut daily expenses; and witty but cynical commentary, along with money-saving tips, from the winner of a Virgin Mobile summer intern search and several contest finalists.
Giving young Canadians a platform to express their recession-related frustrations is a smart move. As we found in our study The Recession and Its Impact on the Youth Market, nearly half of young adults in Canada feel that their generation is being dealt an unfair blow because of the recession. But we also found that despite the pessimism, young Canadians see opportunity in the downturn. By showing that the brand understands this demographic’s dissatisfaction and putting a humorous spin on it, Virgin Mobile Canada is helping them feel a greater sense of control over events that are beyond their control. (For the record, the Recession Mood Meter currently registers right around the mid-mark, or “Sorta freakin’ out right now.”)
In a new campaign, T-Mobile informs Americans that “eight out of 10 people are unknowingly overpaying for their wireless service” and encourages us to get a “mobile makeover.” In an interesting twist, the wireless service provider is sending people to a third-party Web site to do that: BillShrink.com evaluates a person’s calling needs against every national wireless plan.
Since T-Mobile might not come up as the best plan every time, the company is clearly rather confident that its wireless service will perform well in BillShrink’s assessment. Indeed, when I (a T-Mobile subscriber) entered my information, T-Mobile emerged as the best deal, but I also saw that I could shrink my current bill significantly.
In directing people to a solution such as BillShrink (which also evaluates credit cards and gas prices for consumers), T-Mobile is not only exuding confidence in its pricing structures, but also engendering goodwill among once-loyal consumers who now stand ready to switch to whatever provider is offering the latest deal.
With mobile phone penetration in South Africa at over 90 percent, a significant percentage of disposable income is spent on recharge vouchers for airtime. In response to the recession, Cell C (one of the country’s four network carriers) is rewarding subscribers with “free minutes,” based on the size of the recharge voucher purchased. The campaign, “Woza Wheneva,” invites people to come together (“woza” is the Ndebele word for “come forward”) and keep talking—even through these hard times. But while it seems to offer a great value proposition—R50.00 (approximately $7) rewards the user with 100 additional free minutes—small print on Cell C’s Web site explains that free minutes are redeemable only on calls within the network and that the number of minutes redeemable each week is limited.
This isn’t the first time Cell C has misled consumers through “information management”—last year it came under fire from the Advertising Standard Authority for advertising subscriber benefits that had been discontinued. The company is in danger of eroding its brand value if it continues to consistently over-promise and under-deliver. While this type of offer is a good move at a time when all consumers are looking for bargains, people are also much less likely to forgive and forget misleading tactics.
Surveys show that Austrians have become more pessimistic. With daily news items about how the crisis is affecting the local economy and people’s wallets, it’s no wonder that only 10 percent of consumers believe things will be getting better soon while 38 percent say they will be getting worse. Some clever Austrian brands are showing how to fight the pessimism. The young mobile provider BOB, for example, has launched the Web 2.0 platform bobtivist.at—from “optimist” + “bob”—where Austrians can share tips on how to enjoy life and save money in Vienna. Such offerings allow brands to connect consumers on an intimate level, reminding them of the bright side of things rather than the doom and gloom of the recession.
As noted in previous blog entries, brands are increasingly resorting to “free” as a price tag to stay competitive, from “buy one, get one free” promotions and free shipping to various creative iterations. With Egypt’s biggest mobile service providers, MobiNil and Vodafone, neck and neck in the market, a new company is trying to gain a foothold with a promotion that some consumers might find hard to resist: Etisalat promises to pay customers’ phone bills every other month for six months.
And Palm Hills Developments, one of Egypt’s real estate giants, has come up with an interesting twist on “free” as competition in the real estate market continues to tighten. The offer is “Free Homes” to customers—the catch is that buyers actually pay 80 percent more for a property than its going price, receiving an investment certificate with each installment paid. When the installments are completed after seven years, property owners can cash in their certificates, which will be worth the total property price. At least in the short term, it’s a clever way for Palm Hills to raise cash and attract investors.
Telefonica in Spain has introduced a crisis promotion: People who have lost a job will get a 50 percent rebate on their telephone bill (up to a maximum of €20 a month). The commercial that announces the promotion is a hymn to the phone as a networking tool—a man loses his job in the morning, and thanks to his friends’ phone calls, he has a new job by nightfall.
The problem with the spot, however, is that all the people making calls to help their friend are paying the full rate. Telefonica comes off looking a little patronizing, and more concerned about fulfilling its brand image as a leader in communications than promoting the rebate.
Mobile phone giant Vodafone recently issued a 10-page publication as an add-on to the daily Ahram newspaper. The publication, “Moment,” features 39 ideas for saving money. The insert addresses all areas of life—shopping, food, electricity, entertainment, cars and, of course, the ways in which Vodafone can help you save money. While suggestions such as carpooling with your neighbor, shopping monthly instead of weekly and making beauty masks at home may seem simple, they also reflect people’s real-life issues. Not only does this publication tell consumers that Vodafone recognizes their current economic difficulties, but it automatically associates Vodafone with spending less.