From GM to Powerade, brands are promoting mental health
In a recent social media campaign, the boutique hotel operator said it was offering 1,000 of its customers free access to a videotherapy session from teletherapy company Talkspace Inc.
Kimpton is among a growing list of brands, from automakers to meal kit makers, putting mental wellbeing at the center of their marketing. As the issue is increasingly de-stigmatized — with celebrities and athletes openly discussing their own mental health — companies see an opportunity to connect with consumers.
Laura Simpson, head of intelligence at advertising giant McCann Worldgroup, said the Covid-19 pandemic has played a key role in raising awareness about mental health. “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back to finally allow us to have proper conversations about mental health,” she said.
Coca-Cola Co.’s Powerade is currently airing a series of television commercials that tell viewers “pause is power.”
In a spot featuring gymnast Simone Biles, Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte and British diver Tom Daley, Ms Biles – who pulled out of some competition at the Tokyo Games last year because she didn’t was not in the right mental state to continue – tells reporters at a press conference that she is taking a break. We then see her getting a manicure.
Ms Biles has been one of the most high-profile athletes – a list which also includes tennis star Naomi Osaka and former swimmer Michael Phelps – to open up about mental health in recent years.
“Sometimes you have to stop being a real human,” Ms Biles said in the ad, as a manicurist paints images of a goat on her fingernails.
General Motors Co. plans to launch a social media campaign next month that features influencers encouraging drivers to release stress before getting behind the wheel. GM said it decided to take a closer look at increased anxiety and stress in part after seeing an alarming increase in road deaths during the pandemic. More people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first nine months of last year than in any similar period since 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
GM said an online survey of nearly 3,000 U.S. drivers conducted by McCann Worldgroup – a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos. – revealed that a majority of respondents said they remembered a time when they cried in their car, while a third said they stopped because they felt too emotional to drive.
“High levels of stress and emotions can be a significant cause of distraction for drivers,” said Deborah Wahl, GM’s director of global marketing.
Earlier this year, GM showed off a self-driving electric concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, whose seats are fitted with biometric sensors that monitor a person’s level of fatigue. The Cadillac-branded car, which has no steering wheel, can display soothing colors, play soothing sounds and emit relaxing scents, GM said.
Meal kit pioneer Blue Apron had decided to reposition its brand into a so-called wellness brand just before the pandemic took hold. After the outbreak began, the company said it placed more emphasis on stress relief in its marketing and attempted to recast cooking drudgery as a form of therapy and meditation. “We looked at the emotional and mental benefits that cooking has to offer,” said Dani Simpson, Chief Marketing Officer of Blue Apron.
In an email to its customers, Athleta, the activewear brand of Gap Inc., recently promoted a series of online mental health talks taking place on AthletaWell, the online community of the company that offers content on health, fitness, nutrition and mental and mental health. emotional well-being. The series, which included stress management tips from a licensed therapist, had the highest participation rates since the site, which was designed before the pandemic, launched in July, the company said.
Long before Covid-19 hit in 2020, rising stress was identified as one of Americans’ top concerns. Now, two years into the pandemic, consumer stress levels are skyrocketing. Nearly a third of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety or depression between March 2 and March 14, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2019, only 11% of Americans reported these symptoms.
Companies that feature mental health in their advertising campaigns run the risk of being seen as profiting from rising stress levels, but consumers seem to want companies to give them health advice. A Spring 2020 McCann study of nearly 12,000 people in 18 countries found that 51% of respondents said it’s more important for a brand to understand their frustrations than to provide them with dreams, an approach preferred by 49%. That’s a reversal from 2018, when a similar study found that 63% preferred brands to make them dream, compared to 37% who would prefer brands to understand their frustrations.
Burger King, a unit of Restaurant Brands International Inc., has faced backlash for a 2019 marketing effort tied to Mental Health Awareness Month that included mood-themed meals – a blue meal, a savory meal, a Yaaas meal and DGAF (Don’t Give a F—) Meal, which were available at select restaurants. While some applauded the fast food chain for raising awareness about the mental health issue, some people took to social media to criticize the chain for shedding light on the issue.
Kimpton Hotels, a unit of InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, said it decided to join Talkspace after seeing how difficult it was for its employees to navigate the pandemic. He also found it difficult to attract and retain burnt-out employees, in part because they had to deal with stressed hotel guests. Its 4,000 employees received a one-year subscription to Talkspace, and the hotel chain decided to offer its customers access to a free virtual therapy session.
Guests were showing “a high level of impatience, frustration, anger and anxiety,” said Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer of Kimpton. “We really tried to be sensitive to the psychological ups and downs of what our guests are going through.”
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