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Older Brands Can Still Capture Millennial Attention

From August 2, 2013 – Engage: GenY – Older Brands Can Still Capture Millennial Attention by Frank Riolo

Just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean you can’t still be “with it.” Some brands fail to understand this, which can lead to decreased sales and, in some cases, their eventual demise. Blockbuster Video, for example, failed to adapt to the impending streaming video storm and was unable to weather it.

Appealing to Generation Y can be intimidating for any brand. Millennials consume media through a variety of different channels, many have been programed to have a short attention span, and the generation as a whole has become leery of marketers’ messages. One would think that an established brand that has been around for decades wouldn’t stand a chance. However, some older brands have been able to appeal to the Millennial generation by reinventing their image and adopting a more holistic, integrated approach to pushing their message.

Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Change

Adaptation is the key to the Millennial market because this generation’s priorities are much different than the ones that proceeded them. For years, Cadillac had been labeled as an “old man’s car,” conjuring up images of a perennially blinking left indicator driving down a Florida state highway. The introduction of the Escalade helped shake that image a bit; however, many Millennials value efficiency and price. The Cadillac ATS answered the bell by being both the brand’s smallest and most inexpensive car.

In addition, realizing that offering engaging content is essential in attracting Millennial attention, the brand tapped documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger to direct several short films for its “Cadillac vs. The World” campaign. The campaign used commercials featuring champion race driver Derek Hill driving the ATS around dangerous (sometimes deadly) obstacles to prompt viewers to watch more online. This past May, a New Media Metrics survey found that Cadillac is the most identifiable brand among Millennials. While it may not be a direct result of the ATS campaign alone, it is evidence that Cadillac gets it.

Keep It Interactive

Old Spice literally has the word “Old” in its name; however that has not stopped the brand from becoming a marketing sensation. The brand’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa has become one of the greatest viral sensations of all time. In 2010 Old Spice ran an interactive online campaign featuring Mustafa answering user comments via social media. The campaign garnered 23 million views within its first 36 hours. Since then, Old Spice has been hailed as one of the shining examples of how brands should use social media. Oh, and by the way, the campaign helped to boost Old Spice sales by about 107 percent.

Don’t Run From Your Past

We have seen some brands try to take advantage of Millennial nostalgia through content as well.  For example, Quaker Oats recently created a talk show-formatted web series featuring Cap’n Crunch interviewing animated celebrities. Sony Pictures has attempted to stir the pot by releasing the live action version of the popular 80’s animated series The Smurfs. The original 2011 film made over $150 million with the sequel opening this week. While it is hard to believe that many Generation Y members went to see the movie alone, this was an opportunity for many of them to introduce their young children to the lovable blue characters.

While predicting Millennial behavior may not be the easiest task for brands, older brands don’t simply have to wave the white flag. By adjusting marketing efforts to be consistent with Millennial interests, brands typically associated with older consumers can find a way to break into younger markets.

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