Posts Tagged ‘Authenticity’

How to Sell to Millenials

May 24, 2010 1 comment
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A little less than a year ago, Miracle Whip came out with new ads, targeted at consumers my age (somewhere around 18-24, I would guess). The ad campaign proclaimed “Don’t be so Mayo,” that Miracle Whip was as rebellious as we were, that it somehow could tap into our generation and provide us with kickass mayo-substitute that wasn’t so bland. The ad was lampooned on the Colbert Report, which gave it a great amount of earned media, and even ran advertisements calling Stephen Colbert out (the ads were placed during his broadcast). While they’ve since gone on to place their new product in a Lady Gaga video, “Telephone” (which I think is a much better way to reach our generation), I think Miracle Whip missed the message.

Gen Y grew up being bombarded with advertising. We know that we’re often being lied to, and we’re getting a little pissed off about it. We’re jaded and cynical about advertising, and irony is a second-language to us (if there aren’t enough ironic mustaches and three-wolf-moon shirts in your neighborhood, there soon will be).

Kotex has a campaign that I think is more effective at reaching us than Miracle Whip was, all because it understands Gen Y. I have no idea what women expect out of ads for feminine hygiene products, and I don’t know whether its sales are going to increase or decrease. I could care less about what product Kotex is selling, but their UbyKotex campaign is, in my opinion, done very well and tailored perfectly to our generation.

The ads (other one here) make fun of every tampon commercial. The imagery, the dancing girls, the white pants….they’re all lampooned here. Instead of reinforcing these old clichés, these ads make fun of them. Kotex as a brand admits to its own previous lack of authenticity. This straight-talk transparency is something our disillusioned generation respects.

Domino’s also understands this desire for authenticity and, most of all, transparency. The brand did something that shocked most people; it said it’s pizza sucked. Ads showed real footage of focus groups where the participants were unhappy with the pizza, and then listed the reasons why (taste, etc). Then, Domino’s said it would redesign its recipe to make its pizzas better. That’s about as transparent as a brand can get. Until this summer, that is.

Most recently, Domino’s decided to admit that its pizza advertisements were false. That their pizzas pretty much went through a “makeup” process in order to look pretty for the ads. They claim that they’ll start advertising pizza the way it is, straight out of the oven. That’s transparent, and according to sources Domino’s sales are skyrocketing because of it. Other brands might want to take note.

Companies that want to sell something to us are going to have to begin talking like us. This does NOT mean using our slang; there’s nothing worse than a brand that throws in a “shizzle” or “LOL” into a message just because they want to appear authentic. Use our tone. We’re a generation that grew up on the Simpsons, Conan, and Seinfeld. We’re used to sardonic humor, satire, and meta-comedy. We know how to make fun of ourselves, and we expect that a brand should be able to do the same. So, the takeaway for brands here is that if you want to sell something to us, don’t dumb the message down, and don’t forget who you’re communicating to. We’ll listen, but only if you get the tone right. Either give us the straight facts or make it funny, but do not assume we’re dumb one-way recipients of your message.

(image via)

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