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.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines recently dedicated a team of 250 employees to help travelers in need, KLM passenger or not, during a five-day promotion meant to highlight its customer service capabilities. As part of the international #HappytoHelp campaign, customer service reps worked around the clock in shifts of 30, monitoring several airports as well as Twitter. The team was stationed in a custom-built glass pavilion at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, with additional people in New York, São Paulo and Hong Kong.
KLM addressed numerous travel concerns through various means. A couple with an infant got a private room with snacks and toys to ensure a comfortable layover, while a Sydney-bound traveler looking for advice received some tips. Exhausted passengers waiting at night for early morning flights got free coffee. KLM even hired a New York speedboat taxi for a passenger running late due to traffic, allowing him to make that day’s only flight from Newark to Bermuda.
Travel is usually an anxiety-inducing and stress-provoking experience, with passengers juggling concerns of safety, comfort and cost, and with many airlines less than happy to help. KLM’s campaign reinforced its commitment to making the journey less difficult. The challenge, of course, is for its staff to carry this out day in and day out.
Danish travel agency Spies has been getting a lot of buzz for an amusing and clever viral campaign, “Do It for Denmark,” which positions a holiday as the perfect way for patriotic Danes to help reverse the country’s falling birth rate while reminding couples about one of the best benefits of a vacation.
Denmark’s national birth rate is reportedly at a 27-year low, raising fears that not enough children will be born to support the aging population of the future (a problem shared by various other countries in Europe and beyond). Spies’ video presents Emma, a Dane seen walking in Paris who was conceived in that city while her parents took a little getaway, according to the voiceover (“If only these walls could talk”). It turns out that Emma’s case is not so rare. The ad claims that 10 percent of Denmark’s babies are conceived on holiday, and “Danes have 46 percent more sex on holiday compared to their everyday lives.” We soon see Emma getting it on with her partner.
For would-be vacationers not all that motivated by Denmark’s demographic problem, Spies has created a more tangible incentive. Customers who prove they have conceived a child on a trip will win a three-year supply of baby goods and a “child-friendly” holiday. The campaign site even includes an ovulation calendar to help increase the odds. (And for those who can’t compete—same-sex couples, older couples—“all the fun is in the participation,” reassures the video.)
Various initiatives around the world have encouraged baby-making, as Time notes. We’ve spotlighted a tongue-in-cheek animated R&B video from Mentos in Singapore, aimed at helping to fuel conversation around a topic that many Singaporeans shy away from discussing publicly. Whether or not Danes are actually anxious about their low birth rate, the campaign succeeds in raising an important issue, turning the viewers’ thoughts to the joys of vacation and stirring up some laughs.
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.
Understanding the anxiety associated with planning a visit to a large, culture-rich city like Los Angeles, the L.A. Tourism & Convention Board developed discoverLosAngeles.com (with help from Digitaria, a JWT company), which provides an organized setting to map out a trip. The site targets both tourists and locals, since finding new activities in your hometown can often be stale, as you get stuck in a routine.
The “Experience Builder” provides a dashboard for users to collect things to see, do and eat in a centralized place, alleviating concerns of manually writing down and planning in different locations. Titled “My LA,” the dashboard feels personable to the user, while a custom map pinpoints where selected activities are throughout Los Angeles, helping users minimize travel time and maximize quality time at each destination. Vivid imagery, celebrity guidance on specific places to visit and off-site content on social media channels are designed to inspire people to explore and interact with the city’s offerings.
Trip planning is a process that used to be streamlined—you’d go to a travel agent, who would book everything for you—but now most travelers try to plan it all on their own, ending up overwhelmed or feeling they’re missing out on the best of the best. This initiative helps to alleviate that anxiety.
Americans are well-known for working long hours and for their limited amount of vacation time. Which means vacation planning is especially crucial to American travelers. They tend to feel anxious about planning the perfect trip and even pressured to achieve a “once in a lifetime” vacation. Priceline’s Booking.com, popular among European tourists, launched its first U.S. campaign recently with a TV commercial that tackles these concerns.
The lighthearted 60-second spot focuses on that moment of joy when happy travelers see just how nice their accommodation is and feel hopeful that the trip will meet expectations. An assortment of travelers—a family of five, a couple, a group of women—all arrive at their holiday destination, weary from their journey and nervous about what awaits them on the other side of the hotel room door. When the lodgings turn out to be a winner, there is much celebration, and a voiceover declares: “You got it right! You got it booking right!”
Booking.com prioritizes the customer’s experience by committing to deliver the right vacation, with the commercial doing a nice job of illustrating the brand’s promise to “bring an end to the ‘click-and-hope-for-the-best’ era of online travel planning.”
As partisan anxiety ramps up in the period leading up to a major election, some brands have found ways to inject a bit of lightheartedness into the weighty moment. In 2010, as the U.K. prepared for a general election, IKEA’s website presented “kitchen designs inspired by our would-be PMs”; e.g., the design for Brown, dubbed Brün, was “durable and prudent for the economically conscious.” 7-Eleven has been running the “7-Election” for four presidential elections in the U.S.—a concept it’s also taken to other markets—with coffee buyers choosing cups based on their candidate of choice. “Get your steaming hot cup of democracy,” says the website, which displays current results (favoring Obama at present).
Now JetBlue is jumping into the fray, inspired by the frequently heard comments about leaving for another country if one’s candidate loses. With the “Election Protection” promotion, the airline is giving away 1,006 round-trip international flights to partisans disappointed by the election results. People indicate their preferred party online and are entered into the sweepstakes only if that candidate loses next month. “Live free or fly” is the tagline in a spot that shows people on the street vowing to take off if the election doesn’t go their way. With consumer concern heightening as polls predict a close election, voters will welcome a little levity, if not a chance to really escape if the worst-case scenario comes to pass.
From boosting local retail outlets with Cash Mobs to advocating for an entire national economy, the DIY ethos seems to be coming out in full force lately. Launched in February by a team of Greeks across the globe, Up Greek Tourism is a private grassroots campaign to help boost tourism to the economically ravaged nation. “Governments are trying to find solutions, but we as individuals should not wait. We need to help ourselves,” says one lead fundraiser in a YouTube plea for donations. In just 20 days, the team was able to raise $20,352 on Loudsauce.com from 333 people, surpassing the initial goal of $15,000.
The funds were used to secure an electronic billboard in New York City’s Times Square for 30 days. The ad, designed by Greek designer Charis Tsevis, displays a montage of iconic Greek tourist destinations to tempt passersby into booking a Greek holiday. Just as we saw during the Great Recession, anxiety is stimulating proactive responses among consumers and citizens who are feeling let down by big institutions. Rather than accept defeat, some are taking economic matters into their own hands with the mindset that change is possible and that many small efforts can combine to help turn things around, whether on a local or a global level.
Last year we spotlighted an Axis Bank commercial out of India that addressed the anxiety many Indians feel when traveling abroad. International travel is increasing as India’s middle class expands, but consumers are still adjusting to the idea of leaving their comfort zone. A new Thomas Cook campaign from JWT targets foreign-travel newbies who are less cosmopolitan than residents of international cities like Delhi and Mumbai—the cohort most likely to get stressed out about straying far afield.
The most humorous of three TV spots shows a flummoxed family stumbling into a kinky bar (a sort of modern version of Cabaret’s Kit Kat Club), which turns out to be the lobby of the hotel they’ve booked, Golden Mangoes. “Don’t just book it,” would-be travelers are advised as the Thomas Cook logo pops up along with the words “Travel smooth.” Other spots show some young women getting ripped off by shady money changers and two guys enduring a tour led by a scary-looking guy speaking a foreign language.
JWT’s Tista Sen told Ad Age: “In spite of the perfect planning and online checks and calculations, the Indian traveler usually gets it all wrong. Everybody comes back from exotic locations with some horror story.” By reminding travelers of those stories, Thomas Cook presents itself as an easy solution to travel jitters.
In an effort to counteract the steady stream of news about drug-related violent crime in Mexico, the Mexico Tourism Board is spotlighting real-life American tourists for a campaign termed the Mexico Taxi Project. A series of Web videos that take inspiration from HBO’s hidden-camera series Taxicab Confessions feature American travelers returning from Mexico, answering their driver’s pointed questions about the trip. Some videos address the issue head-on; in one, a driver asks if the travelers felt safe, to which one passenger replies, “Oh, yeah, it was one of our biggest [concerns]. … We almost didn’t go.” His companion chimes in, “I would definitely recommend it. Everything you hear on the news is not what you experience down there.”
The campaign includes a microsite and a Facebook page where users can share photos of their Mexican vacation for a chance to win a free trip to the land of the Mayans and tequila.
We’ve seen a lot of “real people” advertising (the auto category is one we spotlighted), and one reason is that today’s anxious consumers are more apt to respond to authenticity than slick marketing tactics. Believable testimonials—or “real people telling real stories about Mexico,” as the microsite explains—are perhaps the best way to go when targeting skeptical, jaded consumers who are less interested in feel-good images of lovely beaches and sombrero-wearing mariachi bands than in having their concerns addressed.
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.