Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

Today's post comes from Ypulse General Manager Jake Katz.

Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

GirlsIn 2010, The New York Times published an article called “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” This identification of the “emerging adulthood” Millennial phenomenon serves as the creative seed from which HBO’s “Girls” has grown.

“Girls” has sparked as much discussion in the marketing/media community as it has among its viewers. Thematically, the show brings to life many Millennial concepts. In particular, the growing complexities of dating (it’s no coincidence an article titled "The End of Courtship?" ran the same week as “Girls’” premiere). Additionally, the show’s exploration of navigating one’s post-college path to success mirrors much of what our research here at Ypulse shows about how Millennials are realizing their dreams in a post-recession economy.

While much of the discussion around the show has been quick to point out its misses (a lack of diversity in the cast, arguably skin deep analyses of life from Dunham), stepping back and examining it from a few levels higher brings up a more important discussion. The media industry should quickly be decoding what it means for our perceptions, visions, and assumptions of “mainstream America”, that a show set in the most notoriously niche and infamously marketing trapdoor of Williamsburg is as relatable to 20-somethings as the more obvious “The Carrie Diaries.”

The elephant in the room has now been recognized. For every big brand that has learned to assess new ideas, talent, trends, and marketing through a lens of mainstream versus leading edge, could this be the moment we realize the gap between leading edge and mainstream has nearly dissolved? Maybe.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We know this generation of youth…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I use cloth diapers, and a lot of my coworkers don't quite understand this. They aren't condescending, per say, but I do think that they judge my less mainstream parenting style. Also, several of my online mommy Facebook groups can be VERY judgy.” –Female, 26, IL

‘90s kids (older Millennials) remember many products from the decade that have now sadly passed out of their lives. But some of their undying nostalgia is being rewarded: Coca Cola has brought back their lemon lime flavored soda Surge thanks in part to a Facebook group called “The Surge Movement.” The soda is being sold exclusively through Amazon, and the first batch sold out in about an hour. (The Verge)

GIFs are invading marketing, and the medium is now seeping into mobile communication. Popkey is essentially a GIF keyboard for the new Apple operating system. The app allows users to search for appropriate reaction GIFs without leaving their chats, save frequently used GIFs, or select from popular featured files. The tool could appeal to young consumers who are more interested in communicating via images than text. (TechCrunch)

Millennials’ reputation for not caring about cars might not be the whole story, and we’ve heard that having a car actually is important to them—if brands can create cars they want. Toyota is imagining what that car would look like with their concept the U^2, a “city car” for Millennials, or in their words, the “entrepreneurial, urban driver.” The imagined car is customizable, with a removable front seat, an iPad central console, and a tailgate that can turn into a ramp. Though Toyota isn’t likely to produce the U^2, it is possible that some of its features will be integrated into upcoming models. (Wired)

Despite the fact that the platform is technically ad-free, brands have infiltrated Vine, and its “Vine famous” stars now regularly team with companies for creative advertising. The young social media savvy players—each with millions of followers—are also becoming involved in more traditional media: Brittany Furlan has landed a sketch comedy show deal, Nash Grier is working on a film career, and Shawn Mendes’ record topped the iTunes charts. (Adweek)

Financial services are not appealing to Millennials, and the disconnect between the industry and the generation isn’t likely to be solved by reaching out to these young consumers on the platforms they frequent. A recent global study found that less than 1% of Millennials want financial service providers to contact them through social media, and 59% believe they haven’t seen financial products that are targeted at “people like them.” (CNN)

Looking for a quick Millennial stat to get you up to speed before a strategy session? Searching Ypulse is the best place to start! Silver and Gold members have access to 10,000+ articles, 20,000+ curated Millennial news items, 2 billion peer-generated opinions from our mobile, social Q&A network, and thousands of statistics on Millennials drawn from our bi-weekly national survey of the generation. Your search can begin and end with us. (Ypulse)

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