Youth Marketing Insights » Marketing Strategy Inspiring best in practice youth marketing through sharing of ideas, strategy, trends and conversations about cool stuff Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:31:40 +0000 en hourly 1 We are living in a Transmedia World, and I am a Transmedia Girl (Part 2) Thu, 10 Dec 2009 02:43:10 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg As promised I wanted to share some thoughts I had about transmedia storytelling and how it relates to brand storytelling. While Transmedia storytelling seems to be an obvious extension of properties such as comic books, we often forget how important the role of storytelling is in brand marketing. Dynamic brands talk to consumers at more than a functional or utility level and cross-media marketing can help us communicate more effectively.

Below are elements I consider important in marketing and idea development as initial guidelines to get us thinking in the right cross-media frame of mind.

  • Start with a central idea, not channels. I find often we want to jump straight to solution in execution – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iPhone app. Yes these are priority platforms but consider the entire ecosystem first as there are many others that might be more effective. Don’t fall into the trap of bandwagon campaigning and most important please keep in mind offline executions as well.
  • Various channels for different audiences. Create different points of entry for different audience segments, for example as Henry Jenkins points out in this Transmedia 101 post, for the Spiderman property consider what link will be particularly attractive to females (a romance comic “Mary Jane Loves Spiderman”) or younger readers (coloring book or picture book versions of the classic comicbook stories ).
  • How does your brand fit within the role or organic nature of these channels. Discuss the nature and the social utility of relevant channels as part of development – outside of your motivations or brand of course. Many good ideas are executed without this insight, resulting in a half-assed branded community somewhere. Strategy is more important than ever so while I wouldn’t criticize for trying something new, I would for not thinking.
  • What is your brand’s participatory culture. Once and for all, adding a share function is not encouraging participation – consider not that you engage with your audience but how you can allow your audience to engage with you.
  • You don’t decide the value, your audience does. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating great content that will get audiences in social media communities to interact and engage with you. Without the value to the audience, you will get the inevitable “so what?”.

What I love about marketing in today’s culture is it makes you think deeply but connection, engagement and relevance. For those of us not blessed with off the cuff creativity (ahem), what will survive are those brands that value a customer-centric, holistic approach. If you don’t get analysis paralysis and over analyze – it is way more fun.

Image credit, Geoffery Long

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We are living in a Transmedia World, and I am a Transmedia Girl (Part 1) Mon, 02 Nov 2009 23:51:53 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg A great video on transmedia storytelling by Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture. Here Jenkins (my hero BTW) discusses the fundamental shift from spectator culture to participatory culture and inspires us to think of the opportunity presented now that individual voices carry so much weight. This is an intellectual look about how the world is changing – not just media or marketing.

From my perspective I find the concept of multi-platform storytelling especially intriguing as it is fueled by relevant youth marketing trends – the proliferation and popularity of new media forms like video games, social web and mobile platforms, as well as user demand for spreadable content and assets. Each platform makes a unique contribution to the brand narrative, and at the same time build on each other to create a larger story. These stories are non-linear, constantly shifting and ever engaging. What keeps marketers awake at night (figuratively speaking, otherwise take a vacation) is that a growing proportion of this is now formed outside of corporate HQ.

In every challenge is an opportunity and here we find it is in exploring and delivering on every possible media platform to effectively engage an audience. Transmedia storytelling is not a new concept, and sometimes it happens organically for fan-building brands. However this is more than marketing-speak – to me this is Opportunity #1 for thought-leadership in shifting from the old to the new.

Next post I will discuss my ideas on important considerations when developing transmedia brand stories – so stay tuned!

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It’s official, banning viral marketing from my vocabulary Tue, 11 Aug 2009 02:10:17 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Ran across an article on Advertising Age – a book review and interview with author Bill Wasik, the Godfather of flash mobs. In his new book, “And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture,”* he ponders the life (and possible death) of Word-of-Mouth Marketing in a Social-Media World. Mr Wasik notes that with the rise of social networking in which people are familiar with the ideas of personal branding, it poses certain future challenges for marketers – ie the more savvy consumers are, the harder it is to tap into them via social media.

While I have not yet read the book and do not want to misrepresent the context – it has got me thinking. I feel Word-of-Mouth marketing by nature is more important than ever. Research suggests peer influences are very important factors in a customer’s purchase pathway – for items big and small. They also influence perceptions of brands. I also feel social media with peer communities presents heaps of opportunities.

However I agree with the statement that viral marketing might be dead. Perhaps this is because the idea of viral marketing at its foundation is based on old advertising-models. As noted by Henry Jenkins in “If it Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead”** (a must read), the very definition uses a metaphor of viruses being spread involuntarily by unaware consumers. Like Swine Flu. Why would anyone want to be involved with that? The term was created by marketers who were comfortable with disruptive advertising models to hold onto an inflated sense of their role in the process.

But we all know the truth – we (collective we as in the marketing industry ‘we’) have lost control. Unpredictable results in social media campaigns, fueled by unpredictable behavior by consumers, is a source of great anxiety within business. It is a common story – we built it, why didn’t they come?

Therefore I have ditched the term viral and instead adopted Mr Jenkins’ theory of ‘spreadable media’ – which emphasizes the role of consumers, or what he calls ‘multipliers’, in shaping the distribution of content. This notion of spreadability is a direct contrast to outdated models which emphasize centralised control of distribution and message. The power is with those who spread, not those who create.

If as marketers we want to be able to harness and effectively engage the power of WOMM marketing within social media we need to better understand the role we all play.

Here I have developed 3 overarching principles I feel are important when successfully creating spreadable culture and ultimately developing communities. I originally had more but I felt everything else kept falling into these buckets – so this is what I am sticking with:

  • Stop and ask why – without your brand hat on. It can’t be said enough but in order to engage your audience you need understand the motivations – and let me give you a hint – your recent ad campaign 99.9% of the time is not serving the interests of the consumer. Consider what content you are offering and how that is going to strengthen the relationship with your consumer. Another way to look at it is to solve your customer’s issues, instead of your own.
  • If your strategy relies on one video to “go viral to extend reach” – go back to the drawing board. To best integrate into a connected society, you need to provide as many layers as possible, building an ecosystem around the brand. You might want to consider the role of RSS feeds, corporate blog, Twitter, EDM, mobile apps, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Yahoo! Answers, etc – that is not even to mention offline activations which should feed into all these as well. Social media is not “a” channel – it’s is heaps and these should play many roles in your marketing strategies, just not a mere campaign extension as in my opinion that misses the point a bit.
  • Stop thinking of your content as ‘free’, think of it as a gift. As Mr Jenkins notes in his whitepaper, “in a gift economy the gifts we share say something about our perceptions of the person we are passing them to as much as they express our own tastes and interests”. It is important to think that all these interactions should reward your consumers for participating in your brand. What gifts are you giving your customers?

While it may seem trivial to focus on the language, when you drill down it’s not the words we use it’s how we understand the mechanics of it that are misleading and ineffective. Perhaps by changing the language, we will change the deeper meaning.

For more information on the sources quoted, please see here:

*Bill Wasik’s new book “And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture,” a survey of the rise of the “nanostory” in America and its impact on culture, art, politics and, of course, marketing, is out now. Check out these Amazon reviews.

**Henry Jenkins’ white paper “If it Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead”, co-drafted by Henry Jenkins, Xiaochang Li, and Ana Domb Krauskopf with Joshua Green, was developed by the Convergence Culture Consortium on the topic of Spreadable media. Check out the paper available on Henry Jenkin’s blog Confessions of an Aca Fan here.

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Nestea takes Nes-step Online Tue, 07 Jul 2009 01:45:40 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Coca-Cola’s Nestea is the latest brand to launch online-only branded content. As noted in a recent Brandweek article, “[CTRL], which launches on sites such as,, this month, stars Tony Hale of Arrested Development as an office worker with the ability to change everyday reality by drinking Nestea”. The webisdoes will supplement the current Nestea “Liquid Awesomeness” campaign running online, and launches in mid-July. You can read the full interview with Annis Lyles, VP of Media and Interactive for Coca-Cola, North America in Brandweek here which gives some interesting insight.

The strategy seems right to me – empowerment. Adding value and content to youth’s lives. Ms Lyles also noted that it takes more than building the site or posting the videos to draw attention, there is a seeding strategy in place to drive awareness (I hope that seeding strategy doesn’t mean banner ads, by the way). Another tick for success. Furthermore, entertainment as a core youth pillar seems a natural fit for a brand trying new engagement models.

However I do feel there is a major hurdle for any brand moving into a youth space – it can seem hollow. I think this is because youth feel brands need to earn a certain level of credibility that offers this humorous, playful tone for example. Cracking the youth demographic is difficult, if you look at really successful brands like a Boost Mobile or Red Bull, they are ingrained at a really grass roots level. Boost Mobile people are present at local surf events, pick-up basketball games, and the other relevant places their target audiences are – in real life, and online. That level of commitment and authentic interest from a brand is a cultural thing, and if that is not your company’s brand I think it poses significant challenges. Red Bull is a unique company where the marketing runs the organisation, not vice versa.

That said we all have to start somewhere whether trying to find a new audience, or making the jump to an online engagement strategy. It is all a learning process and evolution for us and I am surely not one to criticise brands for making the leap. I look forward to following [CTRL] – sounds like something I would like and yes, I am the target millennial. Anyway maybe some more of my millennial readers (which believe it or not there are quite a few) will check it out as a result as well…

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BK uses BJs to sell new Seven Incher Fri, 26 Jun 2009 00:09:17 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Quick service marketing is a different beast altogether isn’t it? Check out this highly suggestive new ad campaign from Burger King. Actually it’s not suggestive, it’s overtly sexual. It’s also funny. Guess I fit within the immature adult category — although a reminder that I am female.

In case you didn’t catch the text at the bottom of the poster, here it is (via Gawker):

“Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled with the NEW BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER. Yearn for more after you taste the mind-blowing burger that comes with a single beef patty, topped with American cheese, crispy onions and the A1 Thick and Hearty Steak Sauce.”

As it goes sex sells. So sue them. I know I don’t blame them for beating the sex innuendos to death – think the only way a print ad is going to generate so much discussion or awareness is from shock value. Or humor. I’m not one for any publicity is good publicity (in fact that one line is one of the worst things to happen to PR), but to this seemingly specific target market leveraging both sex and humor seems a legitimate strategy to me.

Disclaimer: just in case you can see right through my not so subtle strategy, it is definitely true that because I used the word “sex” in this post that it will generate that much more traffic. What does that say about my audience?

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10 Things Millenials Could Teach CMOs About Marketing Tue, 23 Jun 2009 04:17:11 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

I am a firm believer that understanding and listening to Gen Y, millenials, youth or whatever you call them is not about just reaching that demographic. Rather it provides valuable insight about the market as a whole. Youth are leading a rapid transformation in consumer marketing and brand engagement, and that is why we should all pay attention.

That said, I have put together a list of 10 Things Millennials Could Teach CMOs About Marketing.

  1. Provide a reason. We want to buy into more than “this latest product/service is best”. And the latest technology upgrade 6.18 or new Orange Raspberry flavor isn’t going to cut it. Think more deeply about the rationale, what is the bigger picture.
  2. Thrive does not equal Survive. You must evolve and grow with us, with the market. Otherwise you will lose relevancy, no matter how big you once were giants fall.
  3. Be authentic and have values. We spend our money in an effort to support brands. The companies that walk the walk will have our support – in dollars.
  4. Elusive isn’t the word, just stretched. Think broadly in terms of where you can reach me– and remember I only spend 1 of every 11 minutes online on a social network.
  5. Entertain me. Consumer experiences matter, that is what we remember and talk about. And think about the whole marketing cycle because my experience with your brand extends well beyond purchase point.
  6. Brands aren’t friends. But you should think more how to socialise with me then to sell to me.
  7. Inspire. Lead us by example.
  8. Empower me. We feel entitled because we grew up expressing ourselves online, how can you help me spread the word for you?
  9. Quickly bored. It’s not ADD, it’s just that we are all inundated with massive amounts of brands messages. Keep it simple or loose mind space – quickly.
  10. The age of Here and Now. I prefer to lease my car, pay as I go on my mobile, and expect real time help from my online bankng service. My sense of immediacy directly relates to who I interact with brands.
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Tweet, Tweet: New Way to Call the Police? Fri, 19 Jun 2009 04:20:43 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

On Wednesday morning I attended the Twitter for Business / Twitter for PR presentation, hosted by Glenn Frost of FroComm. The Twitter for Business overview was a 101 tutorial so in my opinion a little elementary for the audience. For many in client services however it is the hot topic of the moment so it was timely. Plus I love Twitter. What I challenge us to focus on however is less how to get engaged on Twitter, but more WHY you should. Not just to have a conversation, we know that by now, but what is the purpose of that conversation, what role will you have? A strategy needs to be clearly articulated. I get that it’s good to try and through trial we learn and grow, but to provide legitimacy to the value of social media we need to be clear on the purpose and outcomes. By nature of the beast these will be different than other traditional efforts, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Which leads to the next part of the conference, Twitter for PR, which I thought was really interesting. A little misleading by name it was a Case Study presented by New South Wales (NSW) Police Public Affairs Director, Strath Gordon. Mr Gordon discussed how they were brand-jacked on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar with the story basically an Australian Social Media agency, Mentally Friendly, set up the Twitter account (@NSW_Police) in the name of the police department. It was an interesting thing to do to get a potential client’s attention, except impersonating a brand – let along the New South Wales police – probably wasn’t the right tone of transparency we try so hard to keep real online. To be fair I read on CNET that Mentally Friendly added that “the intent was never to misrepresent the NSW Police Force, but to create a simple and genuine dialog with which to gauge the public’s response.” Good thing they had a sense of humor about it.

As a result of the fake Twitter ID, the NSW Police decided to launch into Social Media, as have many other law enforcement agencies worldwide. It has proven an incredibly powerful way to communicate and engage with the community. Public safety officials are finding the sites not only speedy, but also a convenient way to distribute alerts, road closings, suspect descriptions, traffic disruptions, explain why police are in a certain neighborhood or to offer crime prevention tips. Others encourage leads on more pressing matters: bomb scares, wildfires and evacuations.

In addition to providing a semi-reliable distribution channel, apparently the police also face issues that brands do as well – how do we humanise our organisation to the public. Take for example the Boston Police Department and its amusing response to a question…

- Boston Police tweet “INJURED OFFICER: Officer from district 4 transported to Beth Israel Hospital, human bite to arm, suspect in custody”

- @willcady responds: “@Boston_Police if that was a zombie bite, would you tell us?”

- Boston Police: “@willcady Yes, absolutely”

Cute, good response. Glad even the ploice get the nature of the medium. I had never really thought about “friendly” communication with police departments before – usually I would only call in an emergency – but hey, why not?

However I do get concerned that in the dive into social media some of the potential issues may have not been worked out. For example, are the police monitoring these communications platforms as another way for people to contact in a case of emergency? Before your respond that’s absurd, and I wouldn’t blame you, note there was a case of a Silicon Valley exec who did just that when someone broke in. Read the story here if you don’t believe me….If you still think it’s absurd, think ahead a little to a time when Twitter is seamlessly integrated within our other communication devices – for some that is already the case – maybe in crisis it becomes hard to decipher between the different apps on your iPhone. If police departments are not monitoring Twitter or other social media channels they create as an emergency channel – how are they educating consumers about the various purposes? Realistically is it safe to rely on general public’s understanding of those distinctions anyway?

Never would I try to stifle the growing engagement of social media for any brand, government body, law enforcement agency or every day person. However, I do hope that we all think strategically and be smart about potential outcomes – not just the positive ones but the risks as well…

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Daryl Butler of Nike wins me over, again Wed, 22 Apr 2009 06:23:50 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg

Recently YPulse did a brief Q&A with the very smart Daryl Butler, retail brand marketing director for Nike (and before that he was at Boost Mobile, which was also one of the first youth brands I had the pleasure to work with years ago). Nike does youth marketing really well, best in practice really, and as could be expected there was some interesting insight from DB.

I won’t include a copy of the whole interview, as I want to direct you to YPulse here for that, however I wanted to make a note of how much I think this guy gets it….and BTW in a 5 questions email interview, I generally wouldn’t be expecting a whole lot.

Take the below for example:

[YPulse] YP: Can you describe a recent successful youth-targeted initiative from Nike? What made this work?

[Daryl Butler] DB: I would be selling the brand short if I focused on an initiative. That assumes that our work is done….and that’s far from the case.

It’s not that what he says is groundbreaking, it’s that it feels genuine. There is a humbleness with which Daryl speaks about the brand and the relationship with it’s consumer that I find amazing, especially in this industry. It is a sense of learning from and listening to the customers. It is all about adding value to their lives. It is a real understanding. It is the conversation. Sounds like he is even at the basketball courts with kids on Sat morning, chatting, trying new products, just being a part of their lives – that is commitment anyone can respect.

So now that I have exhausted pretty much every buzz word in marketing (I see about 36 in the above para alone), I want to make clear why call out DB and Nike specifically. I guess it’s that while brands speak of this level of engagement, few actually do (or maybe should say can), and that’s why his and Nike’s approach stands out. This is not to be negative towards other brands, it merely highlights how advanced Nike as an organisation is, not just the marketing department.

“Going back to basics” as I believe he puts it, and listening to consumers is exciting, maybe because I grew up jaded by the you-need-me approach. Really there are very few brands – if any – that we as paying consumers need. I can think of 1 example – tow-truck companies – by the time a car is towed we have to pay them to be allowed to recover it, and most who have experienced that would agree customer satisfaction is low on the priority list there and we all hope to never run across them again. So with that in mind, does your customer need you or do you need your customer ?

As always my tangent gets a bit off track, but the point is I look forward to continuing to watch and learn closely from the mistakes and successes of a brand like Nike, where the customer is central to the company. I sincerely hope to run into more marketing execs at places I hang out listening to what I want, if that ever happens you can be sure they would have converted at least one advocate – me!

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Why being teased as a kid might help brand marketers Tue, 07 Apr 2009 00:13:20 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg There are all different types of bullying, some more spiteful and hurtful than others. However some forms of teasing, while at the time of childhood development could be quite damaging, are actually probably more a compliment. This is called impersonation, we all know how the saying goes, it is the biggest form of flattery.

With that in mind, watch this Dove Evolution parody:

While I know the video or remake is not new, I just got this for the first time. It highlights how the central idea offered by Dove in the form of a spreadable video is so powerful and simple, and now so iconic, that others borrow from it to spread their own ideas which live on in the online universe. This video is only one example of the several that have sprouted up in the years since this Dove brand campaign launched in 2006, and it is case in point that the best ideas are those that can be stripped back, appropriated and reworked by a variety of communities. Look beyond the content of the re-make as it does not have to be about the product anymore, if you inspire people to act or to speak you are evolving as a brand. Probably someone is going to come across this clip for the first time (not seeing the Dove Evolution ad), and create a mock of a mock. The cycle of culture creation continues, and deep within the new content lies the heart and soul of the first version….the potential is inspiring actually.

As brand managers we should take the time to grasp this opportunity, and instead of trying to stop or contain the online shenanigans, embrace it. Allow people to have fun and create their own interpretations. It is brave to allow consumers to be brand transmitters as that means we lose control, but it is naïve to think that they aren’t already. This is a modern approach to brand-to-consumer communications that really grasps how it works in real life. I would love to see Dove somehow harnessing and connecting back to the consumer activity, not to control it but to remain in the “conversation” so to speak, build on the momentum.

I’m not inherently a creative person with a big “c” so instead of creating my own video I am going to re-post Dove’s original ad and hope that this discussion inspires someone else who might stumble upon this blog.

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Gen Y Mocks Twitter Users: The walled-gardens of social media Wed, 01 Apr 2009 21:19:18 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg This is pretty much truth – not all social media sites are created equal. Well, maybe a bit more accurate to state that not all social media sites were created or used with equality of purpose.

So, that in mind, watch this video from “SuperNews!”, an animated sketch comedy series airing on Current TV. it features some ‘young adults’ battling an addiction to Twitter….the social network Gen Y just doesn’t get.

As you can see by the video, as well as the comments below, Gen Y not into Twitter. As Gen Y love social media and played an important role as facilitators in the growth, it’s obviously not an adoption issue. Recently however many ‘adults’ have also come to crash this at one time exclusive party. In fact Facebook states that it’s fastest growing user base is 50+ women, and the highest percentages of people on Twitter are 30-40somethings. With the exception of the mother who Facebooks her kids to spy a little bit, there is not much cross-generational communication happening online. Why?

Well many tools are used differently by different groups. While some may use Twitter for random status updates (“I am eating dinner with my cat on the couch”, “I just ran into the bar, it said ouch”), most use it for information spreading, personal branding and a whole lot of networking. As the video clearly points out, Twitter is for people ‘who have no friends’, another way to state that it is not about hanging out but participating in open, public dialogue…with no one in particular. On the flip side, research supports the Connected Generation uses social networks more of an extension of what they do offline, that is socialise with their existing group of friends. So these places that ‘adults’ have invaded and are networking…Gen Y not interested.

So varying social networks, varying user groups with varying interests. It turns out that social media is actually just a huge set of walled-gardens. It is important for marketers to keep this in mind. Next time we casually throw out “leveraging social media”, we need to challenge and be challenged on understanding not only the functions of social media sites to distribute information, but the role it plays in users lives as well. Kids don’t want to be friends with brands on Facebook, and branded content on YouTube doesn’t just “go viral” because it is on there….not that I was born understanding this either, but after several years of working with Youth brands in the digital space, it is all becoming a bit clearer.

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