So, I missed Martin Lindstrom in the morning.
“But how was it,” you ask? “Surely you must have found out later.”
Not exactly. By the time I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised by another session that let my mind slip Lindstrom out the back door. For now, it’s best to assume he was fantabulous- conservatively speaking.
In fact, today’s been all about getting surprised by sessions that looked rather meek on paper. The first one, on Marketing to Millennials (Major LOL. I know.) by Brand Planning Director of Merkley & Partners and man-who-had-a-great-hair-day: Tim Mottau.
Unlike most millennial-centric sessions, articles, or tweet-rants, this didn’t feel like Chapter 1 in narcissism. Mottau in fact, did a great job of ‘normalizing’ things about the generation that are usually meant to overwhelm.
Starting off with this applause-worthy slide on how every generation has had been stereotyped to be understood. Hell, even the stereotypes fall within similar points of the spectrum: rebellious from the earlier generation’s practices, obsessed with self and social image, with a strain of “too close for comfort” with tech breakthroughs of their time. Shows we have way more common than we think with our previous gens.
The key difference with millennials though? Higher willingness to spend (56% versus 40% with baby boomers, as Mottau explains), which makes sense considering we’re also the most savings-averse.
What’s in it for you as a creative?Next time you get a “millennial or Gen-Z specific” brief, don’t let your CD pull off his/her “kids these days” rhetoric and simply pass it on to the 20-somethings in the team. Persuade them to get involved & help you arrive at timeless truths, which you can evaluate basis which of them are simply “accentuated in the millennial age”.
Else, you might end up doing what Air France did. Taking millennials’ more seriously than they take themselves, and creating an airline that considers flying the last of its priorities.
Following Mottau was a panel discussion on ‘transformation through disruption’, which I felt, for the most part, was an over-adjectivized version of truths we knew. Barring two stand-out points:
While e-tail has thrust its way into high-ticket categories like mobiles, fashion etc. with heavy discounting, working out a feasible, logistical model for FMCG- an industry whose average e-comm ASP is still higher to offline, will be its deal breaker. Simply put, real transformation will happen the HULs and P&Gs of our country choose to embrace digital beyond social media engagement, as a legit distribution & sales avenue.
What’s in it for you as a creative? If you work on any FMCG brand or a hyperlocal e-tail service (Grofers, Big Basket and the likes), push conversations & ideas around digital advertising that’s more performance and purchase centric. While you may not see merit in the short-term, it’s most likely to secure you Theobroma-brownie points with your clients, who’d be pleasantly surprised with the way their creatives are thinking.
And finally, here’s the scare. The session ended with a well-articulated discussion on monetization models beyond advertising. I know, right? But it’s happening. The more mediocre, irrelevant and uncontrolled advertising we creatives & our media planners push out, the more repelled our users feel. But the change goes beyond installing ad blockers: we’re seeing digital content companies offer paid, ad-free versions of their sites and apps.
Keeping OTT platforms like Netlflix and friends aside, take for instance, the Guardian, which asks for contributions from its readers to help maintain its content-quality without falling prey to advertising. And the Ken- an ad-free Indian publication which runs via a monthly-subscription model. And as a subscriber, I can clearly see the positive difference the lack of an ad-sales team makes to the content.
But are millennials willing to pay? Rewinding to Mottau’s 56 per cent willingness-to-spend claim, it’s a safe bet.
What’s in it for you as a creative? Sit down for this. The future isn’t just scary because some A.I copywriter / designer / creative director is going to steal your job. Get your head out of your ego. It’s scary because the crappy ads we’re making are forcing users & publications (whose names those crappy ads are ruining) to strike a deal that doesn’t involve us. It’s a lose-lose for us and our clients. The way out? Making ‘context’ our best friend. Sit with your media planner and understand how your creatives are being distributed, try and understand broad strokes of data (big, thick, or foamy) and optimize messages across touch-points to make it relevant to where its being consumed. Simply put, you’re less likely to hate ads on Netflix when the ad knows you’re watching Netflix and tunes its messaging to it It’s a baby step, yes. But it’s a start.
Up tomorrow- big day. Final day. Look forward to me fanman-ing (yes, just coined that) over Kofi Annan and Bobby Pawar ;)
(PG Aditiya is senior creative director at Dentsu Webchutney, Bengaluru.)
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