Among our 10 Trends for 2013 is The Super Stress Era: the idea that governments, employers and brands will ramp up efforts to address stress as it mounts around the world. In Hong Kong, a McDonald’s Value Meals campaign is reminding stressed-out residents that “It doesn’t take much to be happy.” The city is “a stressful environment in which many people forget that happiness doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated,” says a McDonald’s marketing director in a press release. Indeed, in a 2012 Regus survey, 55 percent of Hong Kong respondents said their stress levels had risen in the past year.
In addition to airing commercials that show silly, lighthearted moments of fun, McDonald’s kitted out a double-decker “Happy Bus,” which plies the busy Cross Harbour Tunnel route, with a motion sensor that makes laughing sounds when passengers swipe their Octopus cards and seat backs featuring optical illusions—replacing passengers’ hairstyles with Ronald McDonald’s. And distorting mirrors at bus stops feature reminders to smile. —Geri Kan