With the explosion of new media in the past decade, youth marketing took off on tangents in all directions. We tried social marketing, experiential marketing, flash mobs, street teams... But to reach youth in the ways they want to be reached, marketers need to be doing all that and more.
In submissions received for this year's GennY awards, we saw participants actively combining efforts of traditional media with social, grassroots, experiential, and online campaigns in order to let tweens, teens, and collegians interact with brands on their terms and on their turf, whenever and however they want.
Here's a few examples:
MTV's "A Thin Line" campaign, the 2011 GennY Award winner, leveraged the network's massive traditional media reach with two PSAs, and tied that to a strong social media presence and online tools that allowed fans and users to take ownership of the project (another key aspect of reaching today's youth). The "Draw Your Line" tool turned over control of the campaign to students, allowing them to say when bullying crosses the line and share their stories about what they've done to stop it.
The NBA and Geppetto Group, finalists in the Sports category, covered all their media bases with their NBA Hoop Troop campaign. The program includes a mall tour, live events during NBA All-Star Week, TV ads, a print magazine, an online game, online videos, and more. Kids can take ownership of the game, literally, designing their own fantasy NBA arena online with custom additions and upgrades. The game's blend of fantasy and reality allows kids to be silly, test boundaries, and even a little mischievous as they play and share their game.
Finalists in the Grassroots category, Mountain Dew and Motive got fans involved with a mock election to allow them to decide the newest flavor in the Mountain Dew line. The DEWmocracy Flavor Campaign was designed around a continuous cycle of online and offline engagement. Offline, campaign rallies took the form of skate competitions, poster shows, basement gaming parties and more. Online, each flavor campaign had a microsite with live chat capability, a dedicated Twitter account and a Facebook page. The fans who joined the campaign offline could get more online and vice versa.
WattPad and ChooseCo, finalists in the Social Media category, also took advantage of an active online community to launch ChooseCo's new YA line called "Adventures of You." WattPad users are writers (and aspiring writers) who share their work on the site and read others' work. The launch campaign was designed as a contest around the first book in the line, Fabulous Terrible. As chapters were released online, fans were challenged to pick up the cliffhanger and write the next three pages of the novel. Not only did they discuss the book on the WattPad site, they also shared it on other social networks. The novel's author also got involved, posting and tweeting about the novel and interacting with readers to maintain interest between chapter releases. As fans became involved, they shared their favorite and least favorite aspects of the novel, giving the publisher valuable feedback for future releases.
We learned from the Ypulse GennY Award finalists that simple campaigns don't work anymore; marketing to this generation needs to be multifaceted. Giving Millennials a variety of ways to interact with a brand keeps them engaged and entertained, and giving them a voice or a choice lets them know their opinions matter.