There’s one thing for sure, young people can be a tricky bunch. Especially teenagers. It may not be traditional research, but the TV show Summer Heights High emphasises an important insight. Remember Jonah? Imagine being his teacher. Teenagers don’t want to be told what to do. Especially by anyone in a position of authority.
Advertising has traditionally been all about telling people things. But you can’t tell this lot what to do. As long as you think of youth marketing as “key messages” you are working at eroding your market share.
The brands that have succeeded with teens have found ways to earn a role in teens’ lives. Rather than getting lost in reach and frequency metrics, the energy has gone into understanding them. Knowing who’s cool and who’s a tool. And then looking back at their own brand, from the point of view of the audience, to see what they have to offer above and beyond the usual sales pitch.
Rather than creating a great ad, the brands that have succeeded have found ways to create experiences in areas that matter. They’ve found ways to improve the world of the people they want to attract. Be that the NYC Department of Education and its Million Project [which gave New York school kids a free phone to encourage them to attend school] or, nearer to home, the Defense Jobs Games recruitment drive.
Instead of “targeting”, these brands are “attracting”. If you want to attract the youth crew, you have to do something for them. Then they will endorse you.
- Jules Hall