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5 Guidelines for making great Youth Marketing Campaigns

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Ankur Kalra,  CEO, Vibgyor Brand Services

Ankur Kalra,
CEO, Vibgyor Brand Services

If you’re still getting the hang of ‘YOLO’ in an effort to connect with the youth, you’re already one step behind. They’ve already moved on to tweaking which is also breathing its last in the collective youth consciousness and in dire danger of being replaced by the next fad that catches their fancy. Marketing to the Gen Millennial has been particularly arcane. Who knows what they will like next?  So are marketers forced to rely on trial and error tactics or does there exist a definitive guide to the behavioral pattern of the young and the restless. One only needs to turn to popular culture for the answers. They have blogs, Facebook accounts, twitter handles and an uncanny ability to tell it like they see – it, at their disposal. Truth be told, marketing for the youth requires some intelligent work because if you give them anything less, they’ll see right through it.

Over the years we’ve had the opportunity to associate with several brands targeting the youth. We’ve tried several things – some instantly successful and others that were first-hand lessons in what not to do. Without getting into generalisations, here are some guidelines that have struck a chord with this difficult to please generation.

Ganging Up: Creating Real-Life Communities
Girls love to gang up and anyone who’s been to high school or seen Mean Girls will be able to vouch for it.  Give them a reason to make closed cliques and communities and you’ve got yourself a winning strategy. To test this theory, we applied it to an activation campaign, Sunsilk Gang of Girls, years before Facebook and MySpace. Marketed as an exclusive group for girls who use Sunsilk, they exchanged hair secrets, celebrity hairstyle hacks and makeovers. The campaign turned out to be a rage and a record number of girls signed up at malls and salons to be part of the group.

Do my friends and friends of friends like it?
No one drives the ‘me too’ phenomenon like the youth. A stamp of approval from their peers and friends decides whether a trend is ready to explode or backfire.  Armed with this piece of insight, we started the ‘Bausch and Lomb – Model of the Week’ to usher in an era of contact lenses. Before nerd glasses were voted as the coolest accessory of the season, glasses were the bane of teenyboppers who couldn’t wait to do away with the extra pair of eyes. The campaign let youngsters see how glamorous they could look without their glasses and follow it up with a makeover to make the change even more startling.  Pictures of ‘before’   and ‘after’ avatars, were posted on Facebook. Bringing in maximum likes won them titles like Model of the Week. Suddenly everyone was talking about it, commenting and liking and the campaign became a runaway hit.

25 and below only!
Anything that would make anyone over 25 scoff and you’ve got a winning strategy on your hands. That is why trends like planking, urban dictionaries that spew new acronyms every day and the hipster culture have found dedicated followers in the youth. The more mystifying it is to other (read older) people, the greater affinity the young will have towards it. We put this theory to test at a campaign for Wild Stone deodorants where there was a lot of headbanging, tattoos and trance music that upped the youth quotient much to the disdain of everyone else around.

Back to College
Even by the most conservative estimates, 50 per cent of time spent in college is time wasted. And while they’re wasting it, why not give them something interesting to do? Colleges especially during fests can be hotbeds for any kind of engaging campaigns. In the super-charged atmosphere they will be ready to sing, dance, act, try your facewash, and get makeovers – actually almost anything where everyone else can cheer them on. A good tip would be to plan something in the October-November period when most colleges host their fests. Give out branded freebies and pictures; something that can be a keepsake and reminder of the experience.

High on technology
This smartphone generation is exclusively made up of first-movers and early influencers who love technology and take on to new gadgets like teenage girls to a Justin Bieber song. When marketing for a new cellphone, laptop, tablet or gaming device it’s always best to get the youth talking about it and it will get to your intended target group eventually. When we organised the Nokia India Fest in Goa the Lumia had just launched. A phone made for the youth, we encouraged them to talk about it on Facebook and enabled instant logins with RFID bands. The traction this generated was unbelievable; pictures, likes and comments flew around faster than tweets after a Rahul Gandhi rally. Similarly, Intel Catch n Win had people download an application to play a game and win an Ultrabook.

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