Millennial Minute: The Degradation of United’s Brand in 11 Memes

Millennial Minute: The Degradation of United’s Brand in 11 Memes

I had originally planned on writing an in depth piece covering the latest United Airlines fiasco, but it occurred to me that this situation calls for a visual representation of the degradation of their legacy airline brand. United is a hallmark example of a brand that has yet to understand millennial consumers. If this was observation was not evident when they banned two female teenage passengers from wearing leggings aboard a plane (on an award ticket), it has to be now.

I will not delve into the politics and practices of the airline, but will briefly touch upon their response to the latest explosive situation. Rather than getting ahead of the “internet” (referring to the trolls and meme lords) and issuing an authentic apology, the brand defended their gate agent’s decision and refused to budge on their corporate stance. In the short time following the incident, thousands of likes, shares, and comments were traded on social media platforms that placed the brand in an unflattering light. As if the brand hadn’t already faced issues with attracting millennial fliers, they managed to turn thousands of them into enemies overnight. Individuals who may have been considered passive or non-rejectors of the brand have been exposed to this brand-damaging content every time they scroll through their social media feeds. This exposure builds to create subconscious brand biases that ultimately influence consumer-buying behavior.

“Give the Internet a meme, and they’ll laugh for a day. Teach the Internet to utilize an open source template for creating and sharing memes, and they’ll laugh for a week.”

Take a look at the top memes below:

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

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Amtrak: Train Yourself To Deal With Millennial Service Needs

Amtrak: Train Yourself To Deal With Millennial Service Needs

Growing millennial service demands bring Amtrak to a spending junction: invest in their capital infrastructure, or focus on service amenities to better align with the millennial demographics.

On several recent trips on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train, it became apparent that while Amtrak has made great strides towards increasing its appeal, the company has yet to reposition itself for the next generation of travelers who will soon be deciding if it’s worth saving the few extra bucks by taking the train over faster options like air travel. Here are 4 ways Amtrak can better align its service delivery to delight and further attract millennial riders:

Better Food and Beverage Service

Millennials know what they want. It’s safe to say that microwaved cheeseburgers aren’t high on their list. Amtrak should take note of our friends across the pond. The Spanish national train company, Renfe, offers fresh baked breads, pastries, and sandwiches, including the famed jamon serano.

A sad microwaved cheeseburger from Amtrak.
Photo Courtesy of Matt Lynch/Thrillist

Better Pricing

Often the Amtrak routes will be priced higher than airfares along the same routes. Amtrak has been known to be a price discriminator that nearly doubles or triples fare prices as the trip date comes closer. The high variability of prices and the uncertain amount of time needed to book a trip at the optimal price often leaves millennials searching for a less expensive option.

Enhanced WIFI

While the Northeast Corridor offers select WIFI service on many trains that travel along this route, not all of the train origination points offer WIFI service. Notably, trains that originate in Vermont, dubbed the Vermonter line, don’t offer WIFI options in the train cars. With airlines offering connectivity at 30,000 feet, it is hard to understand why Amtrak hasn’t yet equipped all of the cars with WIFI options. If the company fails to invest in its network offerings, many younger travelers may choose to fly, enjoying entertainment options such as JetBlue’s DirecTV offering.


More Loyalty Perks

Amtrak’s loyalty program, Amtrak Guest Rewards  offers three unique tiers that require yearly qualification points. At major stations, none of these tier levels allow early boarding, which can be a bit of a hassle at the major hubs. Enhancing how the carrier identifies and treats its loyal guests will increase customer satisfaction and ease of travel. Much like purchasing extra leg-room on an airline, travelers appreciate the little things.


Millennials are known to marketers as expecting a higher service standard without having to pay for the upgrade. The younger generations, fueled by the increase in mobile technology, has created new demands and service requests surrounding travel.


My Two Cents: I would go as far as to guess that Gen Y’s would choose a slightly longer travel time in favor of increased WIFI and connectivity options onboard trains. It is now up to Amtrak, as well as other transportation giants to determine how they will focus their spending when upgrading their infrastructure. Whether this upgrade be to include more service options to meet customer demands, or to increase infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels to ensure business growth.

While these suggestions aren’t going to make or break Amtrak’s future success, they would further entice millennials to fall back in love with rail travel. With airfare cutting the travel time between some points by a third, there is heavy competition in the travel industry to capture the business of the Gen Y’s. Service delivery is important for all industries, including ones that are semi private (like Amtrak) and competing with other modes of transportation seeing heavy investment in en-route entertainment technology.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

When’s The Last Time You Saw The Government Swear?

When’s The Last Time You Saw The Government Swear?

When charged with ensuring millennials listen to the PSA’s plastered on the ceilings of subway cars, what is the easiest way to catch their attention? Swear.

“Outrageous”, “Disgusting”, “Immoral”. These are all words used by a Facebook user to describe a hoax subway overhead ad supposedly by the MTA. My description of the pretend campaign? Pure Genius.

With outrage and controversy growing over the latest photoshop stunt featured below, it is important to step back from the vernacular used and understand the context and meaning of the message.

“Don’t Be A Fuck Boy”

The term fuck boy, recently coined by millennials, is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “the type of guy who does shit that generally pisses the population of the earth off all the time”. In short, this is a person with loose moral character and having little regard for the respect and space of others.

Think back to your last subway ride. Did you encounter someone who was a “pole hog” or “man-spreading”? Chances are you did. The younger generation in New York City is known for disrespecting the space of others on subway cars and furthermore, known for not giving up a seat for the elderly or those who require it. With changing personalities comes a false sense of entitlement. Listen to any Gen X’er and you will hear praise of the good ‘ole days when gentlemen would give up their seat for a lady. There is a reason you hear these remarks more frequently in 2016. Millennials hold a sense of entitlement, arguing that they shouldn’t have to give up a seat, or move out of someone’s way because they paid for that spot, or more commonly “they have a right to be there”.


This fake ad, while vulgar, speaks to the target market of the campaign in terms they understand. By using the vernacular in the ad, the MTA (or mysterious photoshopper) is able to identify with the target market by referencing how their actions can be construed with the negative connotations that follow the moniker “fuck boy”. It is also comedic to note that the red figure in the picture has a white triangle below its neck. This is meant to visually show the shirt is a v-neck cut, a popular shirt style of millennials who will further successfully identify with the ad’s copy.

V-Necks Are A Popular New Shirt Cut

When I think of a great ad campaign, it is one that speaks directly to the target while evoking an emotional response. This fake PSA’s message is loud and clear (to its target), “Millennials, respect the space of others”. While older generations may take offense to the language used in the copy, they should look at the benefits of using such a term to speak to those who need to heed the message the most in a way they will. After reading that ad, most millennials will become aware of their selfish actions, and yield extra space for others to hold onto the pole, or grab an open seat.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.