Marketers, Agencies: Don’t Pass Over Millennials

Marketers, Agencies: Don’t Pass Over Millennials

As an aspiring brand strategist and researcher, I spend a lot of time trying to get into the heads of the “dreaded bunch”: darn Millennials with their insatiable demands, expanding minds, and lack of brand loyalty (often called nomadic). This crowd has a reputation of being a thorn in the side of brands of all sizes often leading to poorly planned brand executions. The solution is so obvious. So mind blowing, that it just might work. That’s right. I’m suggesting what most dread: hire them.

Incorporate Millennials into your culture. Encourage them to educate your staff. Most importantly, allow them to lead your company’s expansion and growth in the coming years. Millennials are often overlooked for mid-level job positions at agencies and client side companies due to a common perception held by older hiring managers who value experience. While some Millennials lack on the job experience, they may possess a native understanding of how their peers view marketing and advertising efforts and what it takes to uncover the deep seated insights that drive them. The best way to market to Gen Y is to have them quite literally market to themselves.

Some brands have understood this, however. The effort to include Millennials is displayed prominently on the digital front. Social media influencers saw a rapid expansion across multiple platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, & Instagram. These influencers, often peers, leverage their personalities and real life anecdotes to influence millennial purchase decisions by up to 20%-50%.

What happens when agencies and client side companies alike neglect refreshing their workforce with Millennials? They miss out. Take the example of Adidas. An independent filmmaker created a short spot that blew Adidas’s previous creative out of the water and attracted mass attention, without ever receiving a response from the brand’s communication department. Adidas missed out on a captivating piece of creative that combined a riveting story. This short story is one that draws an emotional response, as well as artistically showcasing the brand’s purpose. Take a look for yourself. Bravo, Eugene Merher!

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist 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.

3 Emerging Trends Disrupting the Advertising Agency Model in 2017

3 Emerging Trends Disrupting the Advertising Agency Model in 2017

Six. That’s the number of agencies that have asked me a variation on the question: “How
will the traditional advertising model change in the coming months?” during the employment application process.

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The answer to that question is: yes, it will, and in unexpected ways. The agency model will change because we live in the information era in which trends are born on news feeds and timelines. Social movements can sweep very rapidly from coast to coast with a single post. While there has been little change in the traditional agency model (shout-out to Grey Adventures for shaking up the model), consumers have broken through traditional social norms. These changing norms demand faster responses to their trends from brands and their marketing teams.

  • Legal Marijuana: Likely to be a big contender in 2017 with 4 states recently moving to legalize recreational use of the drug. So how are agencies going to adapt to this growing market opportunity? Will the traditional “big boy” agencies seek out marijuana dispensaries as clients side by side with their financial or pharmaceutical greats? Or will neighborhoods see an influx in new shops opening up that specialize in building (or planting) emerging marijuana brands without fear of the stigma that surrounds the industry? I foresee great market opportunities for creatives and strategists to break away from the more traditional, larger agencies and open their own specialty shops to capture the business of this soon to be 8 Billion Dollar per year industry.
  • Millennials: Yes, that’s right: the dreaded bunch (myself included). During a recent conversation with a senior marketing manager, our discussion turned from the familiar industry dialogue toward a more inquisitive one. The tone suggested that many marketers are unsure of what’s next with this generation. Millennials may not follow the same demographic and psychographic trends as we have seen with past generations, but they are fluid. They are exceedingly loyal and preferencial when it comes to brands, which further drives their demand for unique and individual experiences. I frequent brands that make me feel like I am an individual, unique from my peers, and not just a number on revenue reports. Ultimately, this means that agencies must tailor communications strategies to individuals, rather than setting demographics at a high, unfiltered level. Successful agencies will need to leverage CRM marketing initiatives and tailor copy to speak to the individual preferences within the consumer, not the wallet in their back pocket.
  • Disappearing Gender Norms: It’s timely that brands have finally made strides toward removing traditional gender norms from their products and marketing. Most notably, Cover Girl recently debuted its first ever Cover Boy. No longer is the company sticking to traditional social norms and avoiding cultural taboos. This company is making a statement that brands will begin to allow consumers to define the target demographics for their products. The trend of disappearing gender norms has spread to other personal care brands as well. Premium beauty care brands, such as the Art of Shaving & Kiehl’s, have led the charge targeting their marketing and products towards men as social stigmas regarding self-care have been destroyed. The emerging market of men’s beauty care and maintenance products will continue to drive entrepreneurial investment into new companies and extend existing traditional feminine product lines of dominant companies to men. The creative work published by agencies must match evolving consumer expectations rather than pushing traditional social norms onto the market. Consumers reported appreciating “real advertising” from brands, such as Bodyform, that don’t shy away from incorporating an unfiltered life into their creative work. This trend is likely to extend into male beauty care as disappearing gender norms convey to male consumers that it is ok to take the time and use products to enhance appearance.

These three trends are just a few of those posing an upset to the traditional agency model. With social trends and demographics changing at the blink of an eye, agencies must look within and ask themselves if they are fluid enough to adapt to these changes before other competing agencies swap out the traditional model (known for the lag time between creative ideation and execution). To all potential employers out there asking questions of their applicants, weigh the insights provided by Millennials and commit to adapting to new trends and changing the way your agency operates to stay relevant and competitive in this ever crowded marketplace that we will soon call 2017.

I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all of my readers, colleagues, family and friends. May we all adapt to changing times and charge into 2017 with innovative and open minds.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist 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.

Your Toddler Is A Walking, Talking Advertisement

Your Toddler Is A Walking, Talking Advertisement

This past weekend I was very fortunate to spend time with my entire family at the Connecticut shore. I was surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, & grandparents. Everyone under the sun in my family was there… including the youngest members, the toddlers.

My first foray into entertaining young children turned out to be a fantastic time in the sand for them, and an even better continuing education advertising moment for me!
We’ve heard the rumors that supermarkets place sugary products marketed towards children at their eye level. Let me tell you a little advertising secret: those rumors are true. Little did I know that young children’s exposure to brands is not limited solely to supermarket aisles. One of my relatives asked my youngest cousin to sit still while she applied sunscreen to her back. Without missing a beat, the first words out of the toddler’s mouth were “if it’s not Banana Boat, I don’t want it”.
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Whoa. Hold on for one second. Was that a brand name and a small moment of brand loyalty that just came out of a toddlers mouth? Why yes. Yes, it was.
I thought loyalty just applied to fast food chains, sugary products, and flashy toys. There is actually a deeper tactic that marketers use to sell products to toddlers.
Think about it. A three year old can’t walk into a McDonald’s to pay for a own meal without parental assistance. Why is it that children recognize the golden arches before understanding their own name? The answer starts with segmenting target audiences and target markets.
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The target market is a demographic tool that explains who is purchasing the product. The target audience is the segmented group to which the advertisements are geared. This practice is often called influencer marketing in which one person influences the purchasing decision of another person. The influencer can be friends, celebrities, or even children! Advertisements encourage children to ask their parents to purchase products by name on their behalf.
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Target Market vs. Target Audience
Advertisers and marketers work hard to define their target audience and understand what makes them tick. This strategy is used when  developing a creative campaign that often targets our children without adults even noticing. That is until they roll and scream on the floor for candy (see here for a laugh)!
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.