I’m always getting asked what the Do’s and Dont’s are when it comes to engaging with todays youth. One of the first and most obvious things I always say is…’Don’t be lame’. Now this probably sounds quite vague and generic, but when you think about it, it’s the most critical part of your engagement checklist.
Brands today trying to engage young people must understand that young people (in particular) have fiercely guarded ‘personal brands’ and identities that they spend years creating (both on and offline) and they just aren’t willing to associate with anything lame. Think about it, they spend hours each week on Facebook uploading pics of the parties they’ve been at, their holidays and life in general..it’s all about showing off online and earning status within their tribe. They are super quick to judge anything that’s lame, so basically ideas only get a short period to ‘sink or swim’..the incubation period for ideas to light up is now far shorter than a few years back. If they aren’t willing to socialise the idea on their own, your pretty much dead. Conversational currency is gold within their tribes.
I overheard some 20yr olds talking the other at the train station and they were talking about a brand (I won’t name names) who they feel has become totally lame…”XXX has just become totally lame, as if i’d ever associate myself with them in any way..they just don’t get me”. The ‘they just don’t get me’ is the critical thing here, most brands forget to do immerse themselves in youth culture, beyond the focus group room and really understand the heartbeat of youth culture at that point in time. Rarely are you going to get a culturally relevant insight or truth or understand a cultural code to break, from listening to some kids in a paid environment. You have to strap your backpack on and get amongst it. That’s what I always try and do and I’m constantly judging my work and the creatives I work with on the ‘Lame’ test.Capturing their imagination and creatign a new reality for them is a good place to start.