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 we’ve previously noted, over the past few years some brands have been playing up their domestic provenance to appeal to American and British consumers anxious about jobs disappearing and their nations losing ground as emerging markets rise. Now, at a time of swelling nationalist pride around the royal baby’s birth, John Lewis is promoting British manufacturing by emphasizing products made in the U.K.
Although two-thirds of the retailer’s goods are manufactured outside Britain, John Lewis is highlighting domestically made products by marking them with the Union Jack. On its website, the company explains that it’s working with around 130 British manufacturers “in celebration of the nation’s skills and craftsmanship.” Buying a British-made carpet, for instance, “means you support British farming,” since carpet makers are the country’s biggest users of local wool.
While John Lewis’s managing director acknowledges that locally manufactured products will never be the cheapest, he believes there is a sweet spot “in terms of design, quality and value.” With anxieties stemming from the economic crisis likely to linger even as consumer spending starts rising in the U.K., it’s a good time to appeal to national pride.
A JWT campaign for Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular that involved changing the lyrics to one of the country’s most popular songs—a bid to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare—won the Grand Prix Lion for public relations at last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In 2012, JWT San Juan worked with Banco Popular on a campaign that sought to keep the momentum going and inspire Puerto Ricans battered by a long economic slump.
The bank, which is the country’s largest, sponsored track star Javier Culson, who was competing in the 400-meter hurdle event at the Summer Olympic Games. Banco Popular turned Puerto Rico into a giant track by placing 10 hurdles around the island, each representing an obstacle the country needed to overcome. Thousands of people checked-in at each one and shared the obstacles on social media for a chance to win tickets to the Games. The bank also produced a series of episodes showing people overcoming challenge, as well as a half-hour documentary on Culson that aired the night before the race. Ultimately, the CEO of Banco Popular was able to award Culson the bronze medal at the Olympics.
Whether or not Culson had won a medal, Popular succeeded in lending a happy symbolism to his participation. The campaign emphasized that everyone needs to overcome obstacles in order to progress, instilling Puerto Ricans with hope.
Turkey’s ethnically diverse society often struggles with the question, “How can we stand together as a nation, for we are actually a mosaic?” The nation is in search of its binding element. Currently, Turkey is enjoying a good economy, but is more polarized than ever by religion (between conservatives and liberals)—unity is more at stake than it ever was. At times like this, the Kurdish freedom struggle finds great opportunity—Turkey’s Kurds have been seeking independence for 30-plus years—but the ruling party is seeking agreements with Kurdish representatives, unlike previous governments.
Best-selling national newspaper Zaman, read by voters of the ruling party, tried a positive approach to bringing the nation together in a late 2012 ad titled “A call for unity and brotherhood.” Set to soothing string instruments and a sturdy drumbeat, the commercial shows Turkish citizens of many ethnicities and occupations joining hands in a joyous human chain that’s encircling the nation. A singer explains how all people in the world want freedom, and despite differences, tolerance is within reach. On-screen text explains, “This is a call for unity. This is the time for unity.” At the end of the ad, we see a Kurdish Peshmerga, either a freedom fighter or a terrorist, depending on one’s perspective. Though some considered the Kurdish element provocative, most have been supportive of the spot, feeling that it’s time to find a new middle ground.
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.
Chrysler has been responding to consumer anxiety by playing up tried-and-true American values and the country’s pioneer spirit in its advertising. Last spring we wrote about a campaign that showed everyday Americans overcoming the odds, and Chrysler’s epic “Halftime in America” spot was one of the 2012 Super Bowl’s most popular ads. For this year’s Big Game, a spot for Chrysler’s Ram truck focused on traditional components of the American Dream such as hard work, dedication, family and community building—things that many Americans fear are being replaced by aspirations for fame and fortune, something we outline in our report “American Dream in the Balance.”
The spot quotes from a 1978 speech by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey that celebrated the virtues of the American farmer. “And on the eighth day,” booms Harvey’s voice, “God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.” As intimate portraits of present-day farmers appear onscreen, we hear Harvey saying that God needed someone who was resourceful, family oriented and admirable. The spot concludes with a toast “to the farmer in all of us,” reminding Americans that the nation was once a land of farmers. Ram has declared 2013 as “The Year of the Farmer” and outlines how it’s “celebrating … the lifestyle that keep[s] America growing” on a microsite. Its CSR component involves support for the Future Farmers of America.
This spot reminds viewers that the deep-seated values of the American Dream endure, even if many feel the Dream is becoming harder to achieve. The Dream continues to “revolve around a gritty, keep-on-keeping-on spirit,” with characteristics like determination, discipline and self-belief integral to the concept, as we note in our American Dream report.
With many Americans saying the American Dream is slipping out of their grasp, there’s a role for businesses to play in helping consumers achieve their Dream, one of the findings in our recent report “American Dream in the Balance.” More than a third of the respondents in a survey we conducted said corporations should help people achieve the Dream. And since fewer Americans now see the U.S. as a land of opportunity, brands should showcase the opportunities they’re creating. Walmart provides the latest example of a marketer doing this with its announcement last week that it plans to source more goods domestically, hire more veterans and help part-time workers transition to full-timers.
The company pledged that both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will purchase an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next decade, both by buying more American-made goods and by onshoring U.S. production in several categories. Walmart said a new team within the company will drive the effort and that the company will work with state governors in its bid to create more jobs. Walmart also promised to provide jobs for any honorably discharged veterans in their first year off active duty, projecting that it will hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years. See our “American Dream” report for more examples of how marketers are tapping into consumer sentiment around the American Dream.
During World War II, propaganda posters represented America’s unity: It was “us vs. them” during a difficult time. Today’s Americans may also feel they live in difficult times, with the economic climate enduringly bleak and the nation’s leaders mired in partisan bickering. But if there’s an “us vs. them” mentality, it’s a sense of the people vs. big institutions, especially the government. Americans feel deserted by their leaders—perceived as putting political interests before those of the people—and there’s no longer a sense that we’re all on the same team. (For instance, in a JWT survey conducted last year using our propriety online tool SONAR™, almost 8 in 10 expressed dissatisfaction with the government and only 12 percent viewed Congress favorably.)
In response, the 2-year-old Chamomile Tea Party has bought backlit platform ad space in the Washington, D.C., Metro to display posters inspired by WWII-era propaganda, speaking out against Washington’s partisan bickering and stalemates. For example, one headline reads: “I lost my job… And my home and my health care and my retirement and my self-esteem, while you played party politics.” The organization, founded by a graphic designer, is dedicated to disrupting partisan gridlock. The posters are bold and striking in tone and imagery. And by harking back to old propaganda messaging, they remind us of a time when America came together, a sobering contrast to the divisiveness of today. As the election nears, it will be interesting to see if other organizations or marketers tap into Americans’ discontent with and anxiety over the status quo.
With America’s national political conventions on the horizon, the economy remains a hot topic. A new campaign for Norfolk Southern Railway, a large freight train company, acknowledges America’s prevailing anxiety with a message centered on resilience and rebuilding. Targeted at political heavyweights, the spot positions Norfolk Southern as a catalyst for growth and recovery.
“City of Possibilities” delivers the message in a lovely dreamlike execution that harkens back to the imaginative world of childhood and kids’ fascination with trains. A boy plays with a train in his bedroom, and a toy city forms around him. The message taps into the idea that children believe in limitless possibilities, with the voiceover conveying the optimistic message, “Wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. Norfolk Southern. One line, infinite possibilities.” The spot makes its message relevant by alluding to our economic anxieties but through a positive lens, laying the rails for other messages promising growth and commitment to the nation’s recovery.
For some time now, Singapore’s fertility rate has been in the red thanks to factors including delayed marriage and childbirth, as well as a growing number of lifelong singletons across the nation. According to the government’s Population in Brief 2011, Singapore’s resident total fertility rate reached a low of 1.15 in 2010 after being in decline and remaining below the replacement level of 2.1 for more than three decades. The government has been combating this issue with efforts such as a national matchmakting agency (now 30 years old) and a “baby bonus” to parents of $8,000 for the first and second child and around $14,500 for the fifth.
Earlier this month, mint brand Mentos stepped in to help address Singapore’s population anxiety with a campaign guaranteed to fuel conversation around a topic that many shy away from discussing publicly. A tongue-in-cheek animated R&B video urged Singaporeans to do their civic duty on National Day, the nation’s birthday (Aug. 9), by making babies. “This National Night give birth to a nation” was the tagline. To “make Singapore’s birth-rate spike,” viewers are told to “make some fireworks ignite” with a “late-night dooty call” (a footnote on ad copy specifies that this applies only to “financially secure adults in stable, committed long-term relationships”). Mentos encouraged local bands to get into the fray with cover versions.
By being blunt about the issue of baby-making but keeping the tone light and the tune catchy, Mentos succeeded in putting this tricky topic in the spotlight and getting people talking about a very private concern.
Last year Banco Popular, Puerto Rico’s largest bank, changed the lyrics to one of the country’s most popular songs in a bid to help end an almost eight-year recession. This week the campaign, created by JWT, won the Grand Prix Lion for public relations at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
The bank wanted to help stimulate the economy by challenging a reliance on welfare (among 60 percent of the population) and a mindset celebrated in a hugely popular salsa song, “No Hago Más Ná” (“I Do Nothing”), by the band El Gran Combo. The lyrics include the lines, “It’s so good to live like this, just eating and not working/It’s so good to live like this, just eating, sleeping, and not working.” Banco Popular worked with El Gran Combo on a new version of the song that goes, “It’s so good to live like this, always willing to work/It’s so good to live like this, moving forward, never backwards.” The bank then started a successful campaign to make the new song the No. 1 track in Puerto Rico, generating around $2.3 million in earned media in the process.
The campaign addressed the bank’s core need (a better economy means more business for Banco Popular) and also boosted its image and reputation. At the same time, it helped to spark a political debate and, ultimately, a movement of Puerto Ricans committed to the island’s economic progress.