I’m convinced that when EVERY ARTICLE EVER WRITTEN ABOUT MARKETING TO MILLENNIALS talks about how millennials “crave” authenticity, it’s actually a failed attempt to explain bad marketing decisions. Let me explain.
Now that wine seems to be approaching the point at which it will FINALLY (fingers crossed) start changing its marketing strategy, we all need to take a second to learn from other people’s mistakes (one of the only benefits to being so far behind the curve). In my opinion, there is one gigantic pitfall that I can see wine falling into – especially when reaching out to millennials. Pop Culture Marketing. It is so easy to fail when individuals who don’t pay attention or particularly care about pop culture decide that it’s a good idea to go for the Ol’ Pop Culture Marketing Campaign. In no way am I saying “don’t do it,” but I AM telling you, dear readers, that you must do it right.
Speaking of doing it right, please take five minutes to watch the following two videos. This is a Pedigree commercial that, to quote mashable, has “beguiled the internet.” A friend of mine shared it on facebook, I fell in love, and in turn, regurgitated it all over facebook (and now my blog).
And now take a look at the video below. It’s considered a short film using Vitalic’s Poney Part 1 directed by Pleix. This YouTube video with over 1 million hits was created a while ago. This YouTube file specifically was uploaded in 2006 and obviously has been viral for some time.
Now. Someone at Pedigree that saw that Vitalic/Pleix vid and said “This is awesome. This is dogs in slow motion. We sell dog food. We should do this.” Don’t you just want to find that person and shake their hand? I do. This is a great example of doing pop culture marketing RIGHT. Take something that’s out there and proven and APPROPRIATE for one’s business, tailor it to the business’s needs as simply as possible, and unleash it (ha, get it?) on the masses.
Getting back to authenticity. There’s nothing particularly “authentic” about the Pedigree commercial. It’s a dog food commercial. But it’s smart, it’s done well, and it’s referencing something that is already a part of people’s lives without pretending to invent it.
I don’t think that we as a generation (millennials) expect advertisers or marketing campaigns to be authentic. We’re not insane. I would venture to say, however, that what people mistake for “authenticity in marketing” is actually respect for one’s audience. This means an understanding of your audience, knowledge of their likes, dislikes, trends and interests. This means ACTUALLY caring about what your audience cares about, not just finding something popular and creating a poor facsimile. (Sorry people, your branded version of “Pants On The Ground” probably won’t work.) It seems to be tougher when companies try to market to millennials because the PIC (people in charge) usually are not millennials themselves and don’t put the effort in to understand their audience.
So, if you want to go for pop culture marketing – especially to millennials – make sure that you actually care about the same pop culture that we do. If you don’t, it’s understandable – just make sure you have someone on your team that DOES. Put the work in. Do the research. Take the time to understand your target demographic. Then have some fun.