Millennials are tired of traditional ads. It’s time to make a shift. In the past, advertisers sold a narrative consumers wanted to join, but that method doesn’t work on the millennial population. Why? Because Millennials already have a narrative, it’s one they generate and share via pictures and post to their social feeds. It’s now up to brands and marketers to figure out how to become a part of the existing millennial narrative.
Let’s start with Coca-Cola, in 2013 Coke started to look for a way to reinvigorate their brand amongst millennials. In 2014, Ogilvy hit upon a key millennial note and approached Coke with the “Share a Coke with” campaign. Coca-Cola dropped their name from millions of cans, bottles, and vending machines; replacing them with 1000 of the most popular millennial names in the United States.
#ShareACoke trended and is still trending on Instagram with over half a million uses.
The gold in this idea was simple in its brilliance. Every millennial’s narrative is titled with a name, and the Coke can provided a clever, catchy way, to display it on new media. Let’s face it though, not everyone is going to pull off a “Share a Coke” campaign. Not to worry, there are other powerful ways to be a part of the millennial narrative.
Take a Stance
Politics, once a corporate taboo, now are hugely important. Millennials are pushing brands to be more than a Nasdaq symbol; they want brands to be authentic and accountable. New media has become a place to share your political alignment, and millennials are happy to share in stories where brands take a social stance. WGSN points out that “Brand Activism” is on the rise and millennials love it. Target’s public transgender bathroom policy was hugely controversial, but thrust them into millennials’ news feeds. When a brand stands for and with millennial beliefs, it earns millennial admiration and they share its content as social currency
Support a Voice
Meet millennials where they are, on their terms. Brands should help new media users generate content, rather than focus solely on brand generated content. Millennials trust content created by other millennials over content produced by brands. ComScore points out a huge stat: Millennials prefer user generated content on Youtube to traditional cable programming. Casey Neistat is a prime example. He gathered over 6 million followers in two years and averaged nearly 2 million views per video. Each of his videos shared a day in his life, following him as he traveled, visited events, and worked on his company. Casey’s success was defined not just by his artful storytelling, but also by his brand support. The important thing to point out here is that brands didn’t interfere, they simply enabled Casey to continue his work. For example, Emirates Airlines offered Casey a first class ticket, with no advertising obligation; however, Casey produced a piece of organic content that currently has over 30 million views.
Authentic brands get to be a part of the millennial narrative. The word ‘authentic’ gets thrown around a lot because it matters. An easy way to remain authentic as a brand, is to avoid the PR approved messaging from time to time. Recently, Wendy’s Twitter community manager created a viral sensation. A twitter user accused Wendy’s of lying about their “fresh never frozen” branding. He was slapped down with sass, by Wendy’s twitter account, and then retweeted, reposted, and shared on new media. This happened because Wendy’s tweets were refreshing, honest, and fun. The tweets moved away from corporate approved language and into authenticity.
Brands need to adjust their method of communication to meet millennials in their narrative. Every millennial is looking for content that contributes to their personal story, and reinforced their story. Brands and advertisers are perfectly situated to meet millennials where they are and provide that input. Messaging needs to shift, but it’s being done, and your brand can do it, too.