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.
We’ve seen a spate of car commercials that target dads anxious about keeping their kids safe. A sentimental 2012 Volkswagen spot from the U.K. shows a dad caring for his daughter over the years until finally buying her a Polo as she goes off to college. (In the U.S., Volkswagen has also pitched its Jetta to safety-conscious young parents.) In a 2013 Subaru ad, a dad with a young daughter admits, “I’m overprotective”—and that’s why he chooses the brand.
Now, we have Subaru’s “Flat Tire,” in which a teen girl works to change a tire in the rain—a task assigned by her dad, as we learn when he comes over to say, “Told you you could do it,” as she finishes up. In voiceover he adds, “I want her to be safe, so I taught her what I could, and got her a Subaru.” And then there’s “Dad’s Sixth Sense,” one of two Super Bowl spots from Hyundai, in which a dad saves his son from myriad physical mishaps as the kid grows up, whether it’s nearly getting kicked by a kid on the swings or whacked by a bat meant for a piñata. Ultimately, however, it’s Hyundai’s auto emergency braking that saves the kid, now a teen driver who’s distracted by a pretty girl as he steers a Genesis down the block.
This type of pitch will connect with today’s worrywart parents (and stereotypically it’s the dad in charge of all things car-related), and the emotional component behind these messages layers a sweet tone onto the sell.
After numerous headlines about rapes in India, including several incidents involving tourists, fewer female travelers are visiting the country. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has reported that visits by female tourists dropped 35 percent year-over-year in the first three months of 2013. In response, as The New York Times reports, Indian states are forming police forces dedicated to protecting tourist-heavy spots, and the Tourism Ministry is opening a multilingual toll-free helpline to be staffed by women.
The Tourism Ministry’s latest idea involves badges emblazoned with the phrase “I Respect Women” in languages including English, Korean, Russian and Mandarin. Workers in the tourism industry, like drivers, guides and travel agents, will be encouraged to wear them. Skift has termed this effort to curb anxieties around sexual violence “2013’s worst idea in travel” on the grounds that it does nothing to actually change social attitudes and behaviors.
Scion, the Millennial subculture car brand, has a new tagline in Canada: “Made by Toyota. Customized by you.” Really? It wasn’t that long ago that Toyota’s name was in the public opinion trash can, mired with quality control problems. You’d think that with Scion, they’d see an opportunity to distance this sub-brand from the parent company. In fact, when Scion launched here in 2010, a low point for Toyota, most people had no idea who made the car; on scion.ca, you have to dig really deep to find any relationship to Toyota. So for Scion Canada to leverage Toyota’s “street cred,” there’s only one logical conclusion: Consumer anxiety around Toyota has been kicked to the curb and left behind.
Subaru hits an emotional chord (with some at a dealer meeting even reportedly tearing up) in a commercial that aptly addresses the profound anxiety felt by parents as their children get behind the wheel. A concerned but proud dad softly cautions his daughter, an adorable 6-year-old: “Leave your phone in your purse. I don’t want you texting, OK? … Call me—but not when you’re driving.” The daughter driving away is a teen—but, of course, still the little girl in her father’s eyes.
When we discussed Oprah’s efforts to tackle distracted driving, we asked how brands could appropriately address the issue and help to improve road safety. Subaru subtly speaks to concerns about teen drivers texting—a problem that has even spawned mobile monitoring software—rather than further heightening anxiety (as we’ve seen with spots from Liberty Mutual).
Moreover, the tone is spot-on. It may help that both girls are real-life daughters to the actor here, Andy Lyons, adding to the authenticity. Subaru successfully projects a real understanding of parental anxiety—both that which stems from today’s road dangers and the more timeless “anxiety of handing over the keys for the first time,” as Lyons put it—to help convey its trustworthiness and reliability.
Last week, Oprah Winfrey unveiled a PSA campaign for the first national No Phone Zone Day to honor victims of what’s being called distracted driving. The No Phone Zone goal is simple: Get people to pledge that they will stop using their phones to text, e-mail, Facebook or even talk while driving. (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted drivers were responsible for nearly 6,000 U.S. deaths and more than half a million injuries in 2008.)
To help drivers keep the temptation of technology at bay, several cell phone apps lock the phone while a car is in motion. The New York Timesrecently reviewed iZup, tXtBlocker, CellSafety and ZoomSafer, which use GPS to calculate whether the device is moving at more than 5-10 miles an hour.
How can brands address public anxiety over distracted driving and help to improve road safety? Just as marketers have promoted public safety issues such as “Don’t drink and drive,” this 21st-century issue is one that responsible brands would do well to align themselves with.
As long as the motivation is strong enough, consumers are still willing to trade up. And currently, Japanese infant milk brand Meiji is taking advantage of a unique opportunity in the Chinese market.
JWT’s latest global AnxietyIndex survey revealed that while Chinese consumers are the least anxious in the world, food safety stands out as a key source of anxiety. No surprise, considering that last year’s melamine scandal nearly destroyed the Chinese dairy industry. Wary of local infant milk brands, affluent Chinese consumers swarmed to Hong Kong and Tokyo, sweeping the shelves for Japanese brands, which are sold at a price premium and not widely available in mainland China.
Japanese milk brands had shied away from the competitive Chinese market—which is full of strong players both local and international—but now Meiji is launching its brand in China. The time is right: Japanese food products have long been regarded as high-quality and safe, and affluent Chinese parents are more concerned with finding trustworthy milk for their only child than with finding a bargain price.
Meiji, which is airing its first television commercial in China, emphasizes on its Web site that all products are produced and packaged in Japan, with milk sourced from Japan, Australia and New Zealand.