• Strawman Says | Millenials want stories not just ads

Give Millennials what they want: Stories, not just adverts.

19 August 2016

‘Everybody loves the new, full flavour blah blah blah.’

‘Eight out of ten mothers know that blah blah, something something.’

‘This season, we’ve got over 120 yadda yadda etc.’

This is your typical experience of TV ads, as experienced by a run of the mill, ‘don’t call me a millennial’ twenty-something.

And that’s even if they’re watching traditional TV, and not streaming on-demand, or browsing through their favourite vloggers’ Youtube channels.


It’s not due to a short attention span (although let’s be honest, the internet has made us all a little more impatient).

No, a big part of this because a generation of people have developed their own in-built ad-blocker in their minds, one that filters out the bombardment of messaging they’ve endured throughout their lives.

That’s not a statement intended as a doomsday prophesy for the future of advertising.

Directly the opposite, in fact.

The only way brands will be able to get through to an audience that is consistently drowning them out is by telling a story, not just with ads but continuing that narrative throughout online and social media.

The young’uns of today will react more to a low-key, authentic tale of a brand, told through a vlogger’s anecdote, than they will a multi-million-pound spot that’s beautifully shot and artfully directed.

The popularity of video creators who have earned millions of followers, like PewDiePie and Zoella are testament to that.

Authenticity is the word of the day.

Of course, even with sponsored content in a video, podcast or blog, audiences aren’t stupid, and know it’s a paid-for segment. Transparency and full disclosure should always be clearly defined, but even if they weren’t, most branded deals can be seen a mile off, wearing a high visibility jacket.

But the point is, a brand is being discussed by someone other than the mascot, and that goes a long way to providing a compelling story that doesn’t feel forced.

Campaign Live recently ran a feature piece declaring this the ‘Age of the Audience’, an age where the audience dictates the playing field, not the brands.

With every tiny niche and subculture represented in this digital age, so many brands can find their community, big or small.

This doesn’t mean that big budgets are just going down the drain. With the right campaign supporting it, a glossy TV ad wields just as much power as it ever did.

It just means a TV spot has to work harder, and high budget projects need to think deeper about how to deliver an authentic message that doesn’t feel stilted or forced.

While there’s plenty of success for small budget behind-the-scenes content, or audience-driven features on social media, a big budget spent the smart way can still break through that language barrier between a brand and a ‘millennial’.

Just a cursory flick through my Facebook feed just now brought up a recent Peugeot 2008 SUV ad using 360-degree video.

Yes, it’s a gimmick, one that had more pulling power than the content itself, which was essentially a ride along with the car through winding Welsh roads.

But since you experience the ride yourself, you are physically turning and looking around to create an ad directed by yourself, it’s a story that seems that much more authentic.

Plus, as mentioned before, it’s simply a typical drive through the country. No spinning around in ice rinks or weird monologues from Hollywood stars here, just the pure driving experience.

It’s not a life altering, ‘stop your mates’ conversation in the pub to show them’, piece of creative, but it’s the interactivity that drives the authenticity here.

Besides, the 360 video also prompts you to spin around in your chair like a kid who’s ingested several bags of Haribo, and everyone deserves a spinny-chair break every now and then.


Strawman Says

Millennials want full stories, not just standalone ads. Give them a good tale, and an authentic side to your brand, and they might even take the headphones off for a minute and listen.