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Giving Millennials Something to Talk About

From Friday, June 7, 2013 MediaPost – Engage: GenY – Giving Millennials Something to Talk About

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago, thousands of my peers attended an event called the Electric Daisy Carnival over at Citi Field in Flushing, Queens. I am ashamed to admit that up until I started seeing photos of dozens of my Facebook friends ensconced in 50 shades of neon, I had never even heard of the event. I have another confession to make: I immediately wanted to be a part of the experience despite knowing nothing about it.

As a Millennial, I can speak to a multitude of subjects regarding marketing to my generation. It makes perfect sense that I now want to attend the next Electric Daisy Carnival in my area because one of the most glaring facts about us is that we crave experiences. We are very happy being a part of something bigger than ourselves, yet are thankful when we have input into a situation as well. Brands can refer to this simple concept when crafting a Millennial-targeted campaign.

Many marketers have become privy to the fact that marketing through certain media, such as television commercials, is no longer effective when trying to appeal to Millennials. However, what many fail to realize is that if a singular tactic works in conjunction with several other tactics (think strategically), Millennials will start to pay attention. This is creating the “experience.”

A Social Award Show

Despite the Golden Globes and Academy Awards trying to spice things up by featuring trendy hosts such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Seth McFarlane, many Millennials find awards shows boring and pretentious. This year’s MTV Movie Awards (albeit youthful in nature) gained traction by actually creating a “sub-award show” through Twitter and Instagram prior to the airing of the April 14 event. Fans were encouraged to participate in the hashtag-based voting process, which allowed them to vote on their favorite movie “hero” of the year. Within the first week, MTV Twitter and Instagram followers literally increased by hundreds of thousands, building anticipation for the awards show (which also involves voting by the general public).

Influence Is Entertainment

According to a study by Cognizant, Millennials are most inclined to be “entertained” by a brand when they feel they have some type of input into what they are experiencing. Whether you agree with his politics or not, President Barack Obama (yes, he himself is a brand) resonates with the majority of young people in this country. While “entertainment” may be the wrong word to apply to him, the president has long been applauded for connecting with Millennials through innovative marketing and media practices. Arguably one of his boldest moves has been participating in Google Hangouts with citizens. If nothing else, this results in the appearance that the president is taking people’s opinions seriously by displaying a substantial amount of openness. Brand marketers can take a similar approach by putting themselves directly in front of consumers via dozens of ways.

Extreme Branded Content

Many experts agree that branded content is leading the future of marketing. However, some brands take it to the next level. Red Bull’s space diving project Stratos involved Australian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumping to Earth from a helium balloon approximately 24 miles above the United States. Baumgartner now holds the record for highest altitude jump in history. The accomplishment was featured in almost every major news outlet, and Red Bull – a brand very popular in the Millennial space – had its name attached to all of it. While not all of us have the resources to send a man outside our atmosphere, this is a large-scale example of how entering the minds of Millennials through every-day experiences (such as news consumption) can create guaranteed exposure.

Millennials will not sit idly by and accept being pitched a message. We want to be part of that message. Creating an experience, from allowing consumers to affect the outcome of an event to giving friends something to talk about, will have deeper impact than any one-way communication ever will.


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