Scandal in the Age of Acceptance

This Monday, we took a look at how Millennial attitudes are shifting their views on just what can be deemed scandalous in The End Of Scandal As We Know It. We also told you that though they may be changing, scandals will not become extinct and that new issues that matter to Millennials will rise up to take the place of the traditionally taboo public behaviors. For this generation, scandals will be made up of those things that Millennials find socially unpalatable, like corporate discrimination and cover-ups. In this world, there is such a thing as bad PR — because while Millennials are quick to forgive personal missteps and brand product and marketing failures, publicly aired opinions that don’t fit into their worldview are scandal igniters. Here’s a look at some recent scandals that signify the shift:

 

1. A&F’s “Cool Kids” Comments

Abercrombie & Fitch has had a serious branding problem and PR scandal on their hands since comments that CEO Mike Jeffries made that the youth retailer does not produce plus-sized clothing because they “go after the cool kids” were publicized earlier this month. The comments incited a wave of anger and reactions from consumers online and off. Interestingly, the interview in which these comments were made is seven years old, a fact that is significant in a few ways. First, the public perception of what brands are responsible for, how they should act, and the plus-sized clothing acceptance movement has changed significantly in that time. Second, Millennials have aged up and become more economically and culturally influential since 2007. Finally, the internet means that everything a brand puts out into the public can affect their reputation—even if years have past since the gaffe. Millennials, a generation that has been taught that acceptance is the…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

“I won’t buy an already-made costume to dress up in for Halloween because I prefer using my creativity to come up with an uncommon or personalized costume to wearing a mass-produced costume that won't be unique to me.” –Male, 24, CA

One entrepreneur has a big idea to change charity fundraising as we know it—and she’s only 10-years-old. Vivienne Harr started a lemonade stand for charity in 2012 that has turned into Make A Stand lemonade, a family company that donates 5% of each sale. Now, the Harrs are launching StandApp, a mobile platform for donating to and starting crowdfunded social good projects. Twitter’s founders have invested in the app, which tells users they can “make a stand and change the world in 3 steps and 30 seconds.” (Fast Company)

Vice media has established themselves as creators of online content that speaks to young consumers, and now they will launch a global, 24 hour TV network for their Millennial audience. The brand’s Vice News has gotten a reputation for tackling some of the biggest international stories before much more established news organizations, and CEO Shane Smith warned traditional media outlets that as the generation ages up, they will become obsolete, and sites like Vice and BuzzFeed are “the changing of the guard.” (The IndependentThe Drum)

Posting calories counts on menus isn’t necessarily making consumers choose healthier options, but a new study has found that if told what they would have to do to burn off those calories, teens are less likely to buy higher calorie or sugary drinks. When signs were posted in stores telling buyers things like, “Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 5 miles of walking,” 40% of 12-18-year-olds who saw them said they changed their drink choice as a result. Even after the signs were removed these teens continued to make healthier choices. (Washington Post)

Italian clothing label Brandy Melville has reportedly become “one of the fastest growing popular brands among American teens,” but the company is not interested in selling to everyone: they sell most items only in size small. Abercrombie & Fitch has famously lost ground with young consumers thanks to their similarly exclusionary practices, and some teens are expressing their dissatisfaction on Melville’s Instagram, where they are asking for sizes that “fit all.” (Tech Times)

Many Millennials don’t trust banks (or any other large institutions) but it could be that financial organizations are missing a big opportunity with the generation. Adweek’s recent study found that 18-24-year-olds are more likely than other consumers to say they would trust a financial institution more if they provided helpful, unbiased content. But only 20% of respondents felt that these institutions are currently posting interesting articles. (Adweek)

That image at the bottom of our newsletter is a gateway to insights and expert commentary on current and future Millennial trends. Clicking on it takes readers to our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold subscribers, which illuminates a facet of Millennial culture and helps subscribers to understand the "why" behind the "what." Drawing from our ongoing collection of proprietary data, our deep-dive desk research, and our 10-year history of studying this generation, we figure out what it all means for brands and marketers. (Ypulse)

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