Marketing to Millennials

Remember the Old Spice Guy?

The “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign debuted in 2010 and featured Isaiah Mustafa as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” It was enormously popular; the official YouTube video has collected more than 42 million views.

42 million.

Think about that. Millions and millions of people intentionally sought out the YouTube video to watch it. In an age where people fast forward through commercials and install browser extensions to block ads on web sites, hordes of people sat down and dedicated thirty seconds of their lives to watching a commercial. The campaign was incredibly successful, and the folks at Old Spice then made the wise decision to follow the TV ad with a digital campaign, featuring the Old Spice Guy character in video responses to questions received on Twitter and YouTube. By July of 2010, five months after the debut of the first commercial in February, sales of Old Spice body wash had increased by 107%.

The campaign remains a rare example of legitimately engaging ad content, and the success that came about when the company utilized quality digital creative is a perfect illustration of the effectiveness of ads that people actually enjoy.

A January 2012 study published on comScore (“Next-Generation Strategies for Advertising to Millennials”) supports the importance of creating engaging content in marketing to members of the Millennial generation, which is made up of about 79 million individuals born in the U.S. between the years 1981 and 2000. According to the report, Millennials are supposed to have purchasing power of $170 billion a year, making them a wildly attractive population to corporations.

Curiously, the report didn’t cite that statement. It also didn’t cite any of the generalizations that it made use of, like Millennials’ “reputation for having a short attention span and requiring attention-grabbing content” or their tendency to attain more education than previous generations. I understand that comScore is reputable, but I don’t like that the full copy of the report doesn’t make use of any sort of citation. I hope desperately that the conclusions drawn in the comScore report are based on other scholarly articles, rather than stereotypes about “kids these days.”

I’d also love to see the Q score for the Old Spice brand before and after the ad campaign. One of the conclusions drawn in the comScore report suggested that Millennials are attracted to ads that set the brand apart from the competition, and the campaign was so popular, so ubiquitous that I’m curious whether the brand’s reputation improved over any extended time period.

What do you think makes a brand stand out to Millennials? What do you think makes an ad engaging for Millennials? What are some other examples of effective creative content?

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