Sunday 22 April 2018

AdLib: Millennials not lost generation

Media & Marketing with Michael Cullen

The new Mace ads by Piranha Bar, which were shot in the Blackrock store
The new Mace ads by Piranha Bar, which were shot in the Blackrock store
Guns or Knives boss Zara Flynn has been talking about the ‘Y’ Generation

Michael Cullen

What does it mean to be a Millennial? Guns or Knives agency boss Zara Flynn is 35, so out of curiosity she did a Google search to find out. The first four answers that came up were "idiots", "the gayest generation", "lazy, entitled narcissists" and "killing". As Flynn says herself, it would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact it's what most people believe.

Taking a closer look at what other stereotypes are out there reveals more inaccuracies. For instance, Millennials are meant to be broke. Yet, 'Fortune' magazine said they have overtaken the Boomers and Generation X as the predominant generation in the US workforce. Ireland counts 595,000 working Millennials, or a third of the national workforce. The World Advertising Research Centre (WARC) predicts that one in two of the global workforce will be Millennials by 2020.

Is it fair to describe Millennials as "spoilt and lazy"? Flynn says US consultancy CEB polls 90,000 American employees every year. It found Millennials to be the most competitive cohort: 59pc of Millennials said competition is "what gets them up in the morning", compared with 50pc of Boomers. The 'Economist' said 58pc of Millennials compare their performance with their peers, as against 48pc of other generations.

How vain are Millennials? Flynn says there has been a surge in youths pushing for social justice, with issues like marriage equality and repeal of the 8th amendment. Young people believe they can bring about real change by making their voices heard, contradicting the 'me, me, me', selfie generation.

It's often suggested that Millennials have trust issues. They saw what happened to their parents' and grandparents' jobs, investments and retirement funds after the bank crisis, so who could blame them? It's not just Millennials. Last year's Edelman Trust Barometer labelled Ireland as a "mistrusting nation".

Millennials are silly spenders? Flynn points to a Standard Life survey that shows a 15pc surge in pension coverage among workers between 25 and 34. They are either more aware of the pension options out there or more copped-on in providing for their futures. We are constantly told that Millennials insist on getting quick, short-form content, otherwise they just skip it. But "great work is great work", Flynn insists. Over 1.5 million viewers watched Emmet Kirwan's seven-minute short film 'Heartbreak' about a teenage single mother for its emotional resonance. So what does all this mean for Irish marketers?

Hype around the stereotypical notions about Millennials is unhelpful and distracting. This year may be wildly different to 40 years ago, but youths still have similar traits. People are just people - living under new circumstances. They have access to knowledge at a level unseen by other generations, maturing with the world literally at their fingertips - and it's a world available to everyone.

A recent Nielsen report revealed Americans aged 18 to 34 are less obsessed with social media than their older peers. Adults 35 to 49 spend an average of six hours, 58 minutes a week on social media - 39 minutes more than 'social-media obsessed' Millennials. Flynn says brand owners must recognise common human traits and not single out different generations.

"It's important not to get caught up in the buzz and fads," she says. The term 'teenager' was first coined in the 1940s. But traits of independence, adventure and rebellion are not confined to today's young 'uns. Flynn will speak at the Marketing Institute's DMX Dublin conference in the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, March 8.

* Following confirmation that KBC Bank is to stay in Ireland, the Belgian group has appointed CKSK as its lead digital marketing agency. It is understood that In the Company of Huskies and Wondr also pitched. Publicis has won Today FM following a two-way contest with TBWA. DDFH&B was the incumbent. Dynamo has rolled out a new brand identity extending right across the national radio station's portfolio. The Today FM rebrand was unveiled at a party for advertisers in the Lemon & Duke bar and restaurant, just off Grafton Street.

* BWG Foods is spending €900k on new Mace ads. Created by Ogilvy, the theme builds on the brand's 'Going the Extra Smile' proposition. Supported by in-store promotions, the TV ad urges consumers to embrace their 'Mace face' and smile as much as possible. Produced by Piranha Bar, the ad was shot in the Mace store in Blackrock, Co Louth, with choreography by dance and fitness instructor Jane Shorthall.

* Guy Van Liemt from Rotterdam's Erasmus University is coming to Dublin next month to address Marketing Society members on the power of happiness, its economic and emotional impact and how it can be used and measured by Irish marketers. The breakfast event is in Chartered Accountants House on Pearse Street at 7.30am on Thursday, March 9.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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