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.
In Colombia, the unemployment rate among young people hovers around 47 percent. For this cohort, the idea of a better future is a difficult dream to hold on to. There’s little hope of saving enough money for a home or going to college. Plus, Colombians tend to presume that opening a savings account will require a significant amount of money and come with too many terms and conditions. Many simply keep cash under their mattress or opt for other informal savings schemes.
Against this background, local banking institution Banco Caja Social is working to address the structural causes of poverty by trying to develop a culture that believes in the benefits of saving via a bank account. The bank helps by offering flexible terms and conditions that cater to each person’s needs. In a recent campaign, a TV commercial showcases a young man in a hard hat who’s seeking to “go further” in life by advancing in his education. “I have to save to accomplish my goals,” he says. “That’s why I opened my ‘Friend Account,’ to save. And I really save without being charged.”
For young people, the idea of having a bank on their side, helping them move ahead, may help motivate them to start banking and to do so with Caja Social.
With America’s unemployment rate at 9 percent and no great cause for optimism about the country’s job situation, Hallmark is now selling layoff-themed greeting cards. The messages range from inspirational (“Losing your job does not define you. What you do about it does”) to humorous (“One day, you’ll look back on all this with the wisdom that distance bestows,” reads the front of one card, while the inside adds, “and you’ll say: Wow, that sucked”).
They are a response to consumer requests, Hallmark creative director Derek McCracken told NPR, saying that the cards offering more moral support with “a little humorous twist” are doing well. Some have turned up the snark in response to news of the cards, with comments along the lines of “The last thing people who lost their jobs need are cardboard reminders of their misfortune,” from The Consumerist.
When asked whether the cards might be exploiting a bad situation, McCracken noted, “People in times of need will always need to connect” and that the greeting card offers a “bridge” for communication in difficult times. In other words, the cards likely do more for the anxiety of the tongue-tied but well-meaning consumer buying the card than for the layoff victim, and in that they serve their purpose well.