Youth Interview #5: 16yr old Gen C’er Harry gives us the low down on youth brands

 

Harry, 16  (second from left) with a few mates

Harry, 16 (second from left) with a few mates

Meet 16yr old Harry, a Sydneysider who identifies with the ‘INDIE’ tribe and has his  finger firmly on the pulse. He’s into radio hosting, remixing, drama and everything else creative. Harry is the archetype Gen C’er.  He’s probably the most insightful 16yr old I’ve spoken to in ages, he is totally in the know when it comes to what the best youth brands are doing to target him and his friends. Here’s his POV on youth marketing.

 

What’s the best thing about being your age?
Without sounding stupidly cliché – it’s kind of cool we’ve knowing nothing different from Facebook / Myspace / Twitter. It’s something that we’re so used to now. We’re also so CONNECTED to the rest of the world, more so than ever before – information is so instant and we can multitask so easily. Things like tabbed internet browsing can’t be underestimated either. I’ll often be on msn, facebooking, reading blogs through an RSS reader, doing homework, listening to iTunes, and keeping an eye on twitter.

Describe Australian youth culture in a word?

 
‘Connected’- today’s ‘youth’ are super switched on. Despite being isolated here in Australia, we’re pretty switched on with what’s going on around the rest of the world –  cool bands, brands, designs seem to be found pretty quickly and it all seems to catch on. In many ways I think the youth are sometimes more connected and switched on than the brands themselves, it seems to take a couple of months for an overseas trend to make it to our shores, when kids have already heard about it over the net a few months back.

What are the ‘in’ youth subcultures at the moment?

The whole idea of an ‘indie’ subculture seems to be a rather complex one. It’s rather ironic to now consider it’s become a huge ‘subculture’ or ‘movement’. But it’s one that’s gained heaps of momentum. It’s such a broad term that seemed to begin with music then branch out in to clothing, events…and a general way of living for some people. I’d consider it an ‘in’ subculture but one that people often try way too hard to be a part of. Surely there’s no shame in liking commercial music if it’s decent. But props to brands like General Pants who have managed to harness this trend, market their brand in this way, and cash in on that sort of style.

What tribe/s do you belong to ?
If anything – I’m probably an advocate for the whole ‘indie’ movement– but not in its pretentious form. I’d like to think I’m in to that but a bit more open minded about music and styles, rather than insisting it’s completely ‘underground’ in order for it to be indie. I helped start an event series called ‘Xrayspex’ which I think sums up part of this whole movement. We’re wanting to showcase great music, art and fashion to an under 18s audience that is very rarely catered to. Our age group really needs to be respected a bit more by people like record labels and promoters of music, rather than being totally excluded then slammed for downloading music. If they showed us a bit more respect I think they’d be rewarded.

 

Harry doing some part time work at FBi radio station in Sydney

Harry doing some part time work at FBi radio station in Sydney

 

 

What are your favourite brands and why?

Apple – enough said.
General Pants – they’ve got an epic market share but manage to cross that divide between ‘indie’ and ‘mainstream’ – stock some cool clothes and are pushing boundaries with things like ‘The Bubble’ – one of the smartest ways of involving creative youth with a big brand in a long time.
Mooks – their Andy Uprock campaign was such a clever way to involve someone youth love and integrate them into their brand.
FBi Radio– independent radio station who consistently airs an amazing amount of new and local music to Sydney. Become an amazing cultural hub in Sydney.
Channel [V] – moreso past than present, they were once the peak of an amazing movement that had a stable of really awesome presenters. The day they decided to model themselves on MTV it started to take a dive. Nowadays, they still make some amazing content centered around festivals and things.
Hobogestapo – again not quite a brand and more a website – but these guys have great images and are developing a pretty cool brand for themselves.

Which youth brands do you think have got it all wrong and why?


I think that the key thing brands often forget is that what they really need to do is gain kids respect. If we respect the brand, we’ll back it. In a generation whose opinions are changing so quickly, the brand is only as good as its most recent campaign, that said – a few still manage to hold their longevity through some really strong products and content.
All wrong?
Come Together Festival – sorry to be so specific – but these guys added me on facebook the other day, spammed me ridiculous amounts about their festival. Were updating almost hourly, but with nothing informative, interesting or compelling, just details of who what when and where. It’s amazing to think a festival of that scale aimed at our age group manages to turn kids off so quickly.

Australian Government Ads – something about them seems to have a distinctive look that immediately makes kids switch off.

Some more general comments – any brands who think using a ‘rough’, ‘edgy’ font will make kids switch on – or using words like ‘rad’ or ‘awesome’ in a brand name is the best way to appeal to kids have got it all wrong. It’s just patronising. Brands also need to understand that whilst we love being the age we are, we desperately also wanted to be treated like adults, we often enjoy brands that are pitched at markets older than our own. If a brand pitches something at people slightly older, we’ll catch on as well.

All right?

Tooheys Extra Dry / TEDS – I’ve got enormous respect for a brand that’s willing to spend its marketing budget on making interesting content for young people and embracing what we enjoy. The 6 Beers of Separation campaign was genius – compelling content, shot well, interesting viewing, the product is plastered all through the videos – but I think people are willing to accept that as a trade off for a brand that takes such as risk in spending to much to create great content. Their uncharTED initiative was also pretty awesome – embracing young people’s love for unsigned bands and using their resources to give leverage to some awesome younger bands.

Record labels who have their own blogs – Modular and EMI in particular are really proactive in getting their stuff out to people our age in a really accessible form. It’s clever.

General Pants – mentioned above but their work on ‘the bubble’ was really really clever – an amazing way of harnessing both the internet as well as a community of kids across the nation who are interested in music / art / culture.

Monster Children – a magazine starting an art gallery in the Sydney CBD – what an awesome way to create a culture around a brand.

Music Festivals – Big Day Out at the centre of it – but kids can’t seem to get enough of these and there just isn’t enough for our age

Anything that involves interesting content generally seems to work well. As long as the content isn’t ridiculously in your face, we don’t mind a bit of product placement as long as it’s relative and appropriate. We’re smart enough to realise that the money has to come from somewhere – so there’s no point trying to completely disguise the product, but at the same time completely flogging it means kids totally switch off.

Harrys Favourite Blogs:
Two Thousand
Boudist
Hipsterrunoff
The Cool Hunter
Andrew G’s Blog
Stereogum
ModBlog
Stuff White People Like
Polaroids Of Androids
Darlinhurst Nights
Monster Children
The Grindhouse
A Whale’s Life
Lifelounge
Lost at E Minor

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