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.
After last year’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, nuclear power was shut down, and Japanese citizens were forced to cut back on power use. In response, Schick and JWT came up with “Unplugged,” a small holder that reminds people not to use electricity (by blocking the electrical outlet) and provides a place to hang a razor at the same time.
The shaver and holder were sold together in promotional packs to make them more accessible to all consumers. Outlets in public bathrooms and those in restaurants and bars were hijacked to convey the message that “Schick saves electricity with you.” Leaflets with general energy saving tips were also part of the campaign.
The brand gave consumers a novel and easy way to adjust their behavior at a time of high anxiety and showed support for the common cause of saving electricity.
Help Remedies is a new type of drug company that addresses anxiety in the medicine aisle by bringing a novel approach to over-the-counter drugs. Their line of seven remedies is clearly labeled in minimalist, biodegradable packaging. Each is named for the relevant ailment and contains only one active ingredient—Help I Can’t Sleep, for instance, contains only the sleep aid diphenhydramine.
In a new campaign, the brand cleverly directs shoppers to “take less excess, decoration and nonsense” from drug companies in a kooky video that’s a stark contrast to any OTC commercial I’ve ever seen. “Everybody in the drug aisle likes to talk about more, bigger, extra, super, and maximum,” explains the company’s website. “But we’re not going to talk about that. We think people get enough drugs, dyes, and nonsense from other kinds of drug companies. Help is a new type of drug company—a drug company that promises you less.”
As we’ve discussed, too many choices can paralyze consumers, creating anxiety that deters any purchase at all. In the case of illness, however, that’s not always an option. Help Remedies addresses this, as well as the general sense of confusion in the drugstore aisles, by stripping down the decision-making process to an easy problem/solution formula, and at the same time caters to today’s desire to avoid synthetic ingredients. Just what the doctor ordered.
Getting around in São Paulo, the world’s fourth largest city, is not an easy task. Public transportation is crowded, insufficient for the millions who depend on it, while some 7 million cars clog the streets. Cars average just 18 kilometers an hour, slower than some remote-controlled cars. Last year residents lost 2 hours and 42 minutes each day in traffic jams, according to research from Ibope/Nossa São Paulo. Traffic jams can also prove dangerous, with “arrastões” (groups who attack and steal cars together) working busy avenues during peak times.
The mobility problem is a long way from being addressed, especially since the government isn’t investing in solutions. In another example of Creative Urban Renewal—one of our 10 Trends for 2011—media company Bandeirantes Group, in partnership with insurance provider SulAmérica, launched SulAmérica Trânsito in 2007, a radio station dedicated to broadcasting traffic news around the clock. During rush hour, it’s the No. 2 station in the city. At the end of 2010, they launched a new system to collect traffic data: Partnering with MapLink, a website specializing in digital mapping, they collect information from GPS systems installed in 1 million cars and identify their location and average speed. The system can also be accessed via mobile apps or online.
This system is proving much more reliable than the government’s. In mega-cities, where mobility issues generate anxiety and decrease quality of life, private-sector tools to ease the pain of traffic jams are more than welcome.
Japanese people had great interest in addressing energy issues related to global warming before the earthquake, but habits are hard to change. Now, shortages of electricity for the hot summer have forced the issue. PLANT to PLANT is one innovative solution: In June, seed and plant farmers from Fukushima—within the nuclear power plant’s evacuation area– started nationwide distribution of a “green curtain set,” which includes a bitter gourd nursery plant and a planter. A green curtain is an energy conservation method—plants outside a building help keep inside temperatures down. Bitter gourd can also be harvested as a summer vegetable. Rakuten, Japan’s largest online retailer, reported that sales of green curtain kits are up ninefold this year, according to Businessweek. Companies like Hitachi and Kyocera are undertaking similar initiatives, giving seed kits to employees as well as planting around their facilities.
People here are becoming more open to the wisdom of old times and the power of nature vs. unquestioned reliance on limited resources. Many of the paradigms for energy use will likely change as Japan finds a new way forward. Brands that can offer sustainable, nature-based, tradition-inspired solutions that also help people maintain the lifestyle they’re accustomed to stand to make a lot of headway.
As a result of the earthquake and nuclear crisis, a shortage of power has become an everyday issue for Japanese consumers and businesses. There is a growing concern that this will impact economic recovery, with factories stopping operations every now and then, commuters delayed by trains that periodically stop or slow down, and shops and restaurants closing earlier. People have become extremely conscious of the need to conserve power in their everyday lives, especially with the hot summer approaching, a time when power usage peaks with use of air-conditioning.
Shortly after the earthquake, Yahoo! started displaying a “Power Usage Indicator” on its home page. It uses data from the utility TEPCO to show how much power is being used, updated by the hour, giving people a tangible way to gauge the current situation. Until the earthquake, most people didn’t think much about their energy consumption and used power as if the supply were infinite. The indicator makes people constantly aware of the issue and lets them know when to be especially careful about their own usage.
This is a good example of “branded utility”—finding practical ways to help people in response to the difficulties that arise during our recovery process.
One of the many anxieties surrounding the environment is the condition in which we’re leaving the planet for future generations. Hanes taps into this concern with a humorous commercial for its EcoSmart line of T-shirts, briefs and socks. Two guys stroll through a mall in seemingly similar outfits. But the voiceover reveals that James, who’s wearing Hanes EcoSmart items, is “doing his part to help the environment for future generations,” with clothing made from recycled fiber and powered by renewable energy. The less conscientious Pete, on the other hand, gets the stink-eye from various kids.
Hanes has also created an eco-portal, hanesgreen.com, which outlines the company’s recent greenification (a move that ties into our Maximum Disclosure trend). The site details key accomplishments to date and goals for the future.
Hanes appears to be trying to create a stigma around not being a green consumer. This tactic seems to be smart, especially in light of recent research (highlighted by The Guardian) suggesting that peer pressure is a key driver of green lifestyles. And Hanes manages to make the message clear without getting saccharine, alarmist or sappy.
Indians are waking up to the reality of climate change, partly because of media exposure but mostly because we are seeing and feeling its impact. Extreme climate shifts are affecting agriculture and in turn the lives of farmers and their families—some of whom are even turning to suicide—and the end consumer, who’s seen food prices triple. Couple this with initiatives like Earth Hour and the ban on plastic bags in Delhi, and you’ve got a small but growing population (mainly youth) who understand the urgency of doing their bit for the planet, be it reducing their carbon footprint or starting green groups in schools/colleges.
Brands are slowly getting on the bandwagon and using green causes to engage with their audiences, as well as propel positive change. One example is Garnier, the mass-market brand of French cosmetic company L’Oréal, which has joined hands with India’s leading English daily,The Times of India, to promote green ideas among Indian youth. The “Take Care, Take Charge” initiative, which kicked off on April 22 (World Earth Day), seeks to build a greenhouse of ideas for a greener planet. For every idea received, Garnier and The Times of India will buy 10 kilograms of used paper. On June 5 (World Environment Day), the campaign will culminate with an entirely recycled special edition of The Times of India. The winning ideas will be shared with organizations aligned to the campaign and recommended to government bodies for further development.
I like this initiative because unlike some others (Aircel’s Save Our Tigers and Idea Cellular’s Use Mobile, Save Paper), it seeks to generate long-term sustainable solutions and put them into action with the help of relevant bodies rather than just asking individuals to do their little bit.
The impact of our disposable lifestyles on the environment has been a concern to many for some time now. But how many consumers are prepared to pay more for a “green” brand? So often, the anxiety about bank balance is put before anxiety about the environment. Now, being green can actually earn consumers money: A number of companies in the U.K. are encouraging people to recycle old mobile phones in return for cash.
Mazuma Mobile, the most vocal of these, boldly aims to address both concerns at once—recycle your phone for reuse in developing markets (thereby being kinder to the environment and bettering communications in these countries) while earning some cold hard cash in the bargain (reducing concerns about just how to fund one’s lifestyle until the next payday). And with up to £280 for a used phone, Mazuma is likely to have found a successful combination. If only being green could always be this profitable.
For decades, the popular perception of diesel vehicles was decidedly unpopular: They were noisy, smoke-spewing polluters.
But in a new campaign, Audi is championing its TDI “clean diesel” engine, promising cars that are not only sporty and luxurious but also require fewer stops at the pump—a boon to both environmental- and budget-conscious consumers. (Diesel cars use up to 40 percent less fuel than traditional vehicles.)
Audi’s ads are slick but grounded in history; they don’t shirk diesel’s reputation, but rather redefine it. Even the campaign’s slogan, “Diesel: It’s no longer a dirty word,” nods to the fuel’s murky past.
Sales of clean-diesel cars have nearly doubled since 2000, and projections have them increasing threefold by 2015.
As consumers watch day-to-day expenses—but still prioritize cutting-edge technology and environmental conservation—Audi has adeptly tied its brand to a burgeoning movement.
With the stifling heat of the Japanese summer in mind, and tapping into growing green consciousness and environmental anxiety in Japan, Coca-Cola launched a new, greener bottled water here in June. Called I LOHAS, it has a twistable bottle that’s touted as the lightest-ever PET bottle, and at 12 grams, uses 40 percent less plastic than the average bottle of the same size. This means lighter delivery loads, recycling shipments with less wasted space, reduced waste-disposal emissions and less overall waste.
But rather than talking about these more abstract green benefits, communication is focused on what’s easiest to understand and closest to home for consumers: It revolves around the idea of “1. Select… 2. Drink… 3. Twist….” While promoting recycling, the advertising demonstrates how this bottle innovation makes it simple for anyone to make a difference.
While being truly green probably means staying away from bottled water altogether—and there’s likely to be some “greenwashing” backlash—bottled water is unlikely to go away anytime soon. An excellent example of how to make green as mainstream as possible, I LOHAS has the makings of a big success.