Have any of you found yourself needing to take timeouts from the news these days? It seems like we can’t get a quick dose of the top current events without becoming irreversibly saddened by too many stories of violence, product recall warnings, natural disasters, and tragedy. Added to the stress we already experience in our everyday lives, it can be easy to feel incredibly bogged down by the heaviness of adult life.

As a result, I find myself needing a break from it here and there, and I tend to seek out even the most minutely uplifting experiences and bits of news, just to stay sane.

Fortunately, I know that people across the globe feel the same way. We’re learning that we can achieve solace in sharing happy stories, fun games, and lighthearted throwbacks to our younger, simpler, more carefree days. In a word, we need the occasional recess—a concept explored in the Mintel Trend Play Ethic.

As a benefit to all of us, companies are starting to find ways to provide sporadic seconds of fun in our daily lives. A dose of joy—no matter how acute or temporary—served up by a brand can make us feel a closer affinity toward that brand.

We’ve seen tactics ranging from products and promotions centered on games and other childlike indulgences, to goofy and playful messaging. Among them:

• A restaurant in LA creates a new chalkboard drawing every Tuesday with a film character on it, such as Jabba the Hutt or Dobby the House Elf. The restaurant rewards a 10% discount to diners who can then order their meal in the voice of the character.

• Gatorade Brazil have launched Gool Gatorade, a limited edition bottle that can be attached to other bottles to be turned into soccer goal posts.

• Taco Bell has launched a new campaign in Canada that asks people to play an arcade game in order to get a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos taco. Customers choose an avatar in The Waiting Game and then get in line to order a taco, regularly checking their watches or blowing bubblegum. Once they reach the cashier, those patient enough to wait are given a free coupon that can be redeemed for a Cool Ranch Doritos Locos taco.

• In São Paolo, Suvinil is advertising its new magnetic paint by turning walls into game boards. Passersby can borrow game pieces to engage in impromptu matches such as chess and checkers.

• Doritos has launched a party game Canada called Doritos Roulette, which features a special edition bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos containing 25% hot chips. These spicier chips look exactly the same as the nacho cheese flavor. The Doritos brand is encouraging those who consume a hot chip to take a selfie and upload it with the hashtag #BurnSelfie.

• Gumtree Australia, the country’s leading domestic site for second-hand goods, has launched a campaign that comprises a treasure hunt of prizes through its listings. Through a daily list of clues hidden amongst the listings, users can uncover hidden cash rewards.

• A Melbourne pop-up restaurant delivers its sandwiches from several stories high by parachuting them down to the street.
• Asiana Airlines flight attendants are responsible for not only meals and safety on the new Airbus 380, but also a range of in-flight live entertainment services. The new luxury plane includes magicians performing tricks plus managing cookie baking, balloon art and dress-up activities for children. In addition, mystics offer tarot card readings, make-up artists help ladies refresh before landing and “delighters” put on traditional Korean fashion shows and portray traditional wedding ceremonies. Certified mixologists also provide a special cocktail service on board.

• Snickers Korea brought its brand message “You are not you when you are hungry” to a new level at a Seoul university. This campaign transformed people’s faces into zombies and animals using real-time facial animation technology. When students approached a vending machine, they saw their appearances suddenly change with the animation responding to their movements and facial expressions. A Snickers candy bar was then dispensed from the machine.

Because the stress of life today won’t be disappearing any time soon, brands who provide these opportunities for ‘recess’ can benefit from a little play time.

For more information about consumer trends and Mintel’s trends expertise, click here.

Stacy Glasgow is a Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. She specializes in consumer trends that will propel businesses forward and comes from a diverse background that includes CPG, agency, and marketing experience.

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