Daily news, insights, and expert commentary on current and future Millennial trends.

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GIF-Powered Marketing: The Rise of Branded GIF Content

GIFs have been adopted by Millennials online as a near-second language, and now savvy brands are using GIFs to create marketing content that captures young consumers.

GIFs are the sweetheart of the internet; an important fixture of communication for young consumers, internet users, and the brands that want to speak their language. In just a few short years, the looped motion files have gone from near extinction to become a vital part of conversation—just check a commenting board, or the plethora of reaction GIF libraries, to see what we mean. The medium is now seeping into mobile communication thanks to new apps that make animated clips easier to share on the go. Nutmeg is an app that provides an “expertly curated” menu of reaction GIFs that allow users to simply tap on the emotion they want to convey and choose a GIF that will act it out for them. New app Camoji is making GIFs personal, letting users create GIF selfies that send and loop seamlessly within iMessage.

Last year, we discussed the untapped marketing potential of GIFs, but in 2014 GIF-powered marketing has finally arrived. This June, Twitter opened up its feed to GIFs and Wendy’s, Forever 21, Mountain Dew, GE, Samsung, and Arby’s all contributed, remaining playful with the format and giving us a taste of what to expect in GIF visuals on the social network. Outside of social platforms, brands are using GIFs in creative ways, and integrating them into even traditional marketing to attract young consumers. It isn’t always easy. Last Christmas, Kmart attempted to incorporate GIFs into their on air commercials, but the result didn’t make sense and annoyed viewers, showing a disconnect between the brand’s desire to be current and their understanding of how GIFs are actually used. But it is very possible to include GIFs in campaigns in ways that are sharable and unique. Here are two recent example of GIF-powered marketing that works:


EA Sports Madden has maintained its spot as the top football video game, and has continued to adjust to keep up with young gamers and their tastes. Now that digital download games and mobile gaming has invaded the space, the brand has made digital marketing a priority, and for Madden NFL 15, they’ve put GIFs in the spotlight. EA teamed with Google to create the Madden GIFERATOR, a site that allows anyone to create customized GIFs of Madden players to send to friends as animated trash talk. Visitors pick their favorite team, a play to be looped, an environment the player will be placed in—including falling snow, lightning, lava, and a field of blossoming cherry trees—and then add block of text, or choose from a menu of already written insults. Presto: instant reaction content for the NFL season, and highly shareable marketing for the gaming franchise. 

Why It Works: The Madden GIFerator hits the nail on the head by understanding how GIFs are a part of Millennial conversation: they’re used as visual exclamations, reactions, and to send over the top messages that words alone just can’t convey. The instant sharing tool incorporated into the site is key to its success, and the fact that the GIFs are completely customizable speaks to young consumers' desire to put their own stamp on content before broadcasting it out. 

Fiat's Endless Fun

Fiat’s latest “Endless Fun” TV commercials bring GIFs to the small screen, featuring weird and quirky scenes that loop and are in fact actual GIFs pushed into a traditional content format. The GIFs were originally created for Tumblr, but the Chrystler CMO liked the

Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “If I played the lottery tomorrow and won $100,000,000 I would save most of it, donate some of it. And I'd buy my dad a boat, because I promised I'd buy him one if I was ever a millionaire.” –Female, 15, WA

This week, celebrity Photoshopping was debated online when fans criticized Beyoncé for posting an Instagram picture that looked altered to make her look slimmer. The star (and others) have been accused of using Photoshop or other image-fixing apps on social media photos before, a practice that many feel contributes to young female fans’ body issues, and does not align with the imperfection embracing and authenticity that so many young consumers expect. (BuzzFeed)

The Cartoon Network has launched an anti-bullying campaign called “I Speak Up” to encourage kids who have been bullied to reach out to trusted adults. Viewers are being encouraged to submit videos (with the permission of their parent or guardian) to share the anti-bullying message, and some of those videos will be featured in the campaign online and on TV. Visitors to the Speak Up website can also take a pledge to stop bullying, and earn special badges while playing Cartoon Network games. (PR Newser)

Young consumers are screen multitaskers, and second screen use while watching TV is a norm—but it’s not always clear to brands how they should engage in that behavior, and just throwing a hashtag on the screen isn’t going to cut it. Now Twitter says that studios and networks that live-tweet their popular programming (post and respond to viewers while the show is happening) can “dramatically boost followers and Twitter mentions” and even bump up TV ratings. (Recode)

YouTube is coming to the big screen. The digital comedy duo who create SMOSH, a channel with 30 million subscribers, has created a movie that will be distributed by Lionsgate. The movie is being described as a “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventurefor 2014” and will star a slew of other YouTube stars. The news is another example of traditional media embracing YouTube to entice young consumers, and the mainstreaming of the site’s stars. (Fast Company)

New research has found that across all grade levels and subjects, girls get better grades than male students—around the globe. The results have caused some to wonder if schools are “set up to favor the way girls learn and trip up boys.” Male students might be less able to self-discipline themselves, a key ingredient to doing well in classes, which means that the way education is structured plays into their weaknesses. (The Atlantic

Have some lingering questions about Millennials that you need answered for an upcoming meeting? That’s what Ypulse is here for. Silver and Gold subscribers have access to Ypulse's trend and Millennial experts for quick, personalized feedback on any topic. After each insights article, subscribers can submit questions and requests directly to our experts and receive instant responses. (Ypulse)

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