Today’s post comes from Ypulse’s Director of Insights & Inspiration Ali Driesman.
(Snowball) Throwback to the Good Ol’ Days
Remember the days when a snowball to the face would elicit a grin from ear to ear? When there was no such thing as getting “too cold”, “too tired” or “too sore”? Well Millennials certainly do, and to this generation, those were the days that were safe, cushy, and when all was right with the world. However, with a silent acknowledgment that those times are fast fading, there is certainly a longing to hold on to those glory days in whatever way that they can.
So what better way to get back to that childlike state of mind than a massive snowball fight? Not just any snowball fight, but one to break the world record previously held by the Republic of Korea. That is exactly what Millennials in Seattle did. On Saturday evening, people adorned in tutus, onesies, goggles, etc. gathered under the Space Needle, where over 162,000lbs of snow had been transported for a massive snowball fight.
Being an (eh hem) ‘aging Millennial’ myself, I heard of this event and immediately strapped on my goggles and rallied the troops. This sounded amazing and something not to be missed. However, as always, I had my Ypulse ethnographer goggles on in addition to my Millennial ‘game-time’ goggles, and once I got to the snowball line of fire, there were a few insights I could not help but take note of:
Desire to hold on to the Glory Years: The first thing that caught my attention was that most people there looked around 24-30 years old. It definitely attracted the older millennial crowd. These are the people who are grappling with the fact “yes, I am getting older…. but I am not so sure I am ready to let go of the good old days.” At Ypulse, we often see this in Millennials. This is a generation that grew up in a time when everything was wonderful and safe as kids and then reality hit hard as a result of the recession and some eye-opening events like 9/11 and Columbine. It’s no surprise that older Millennials gladly accepted the opportunity to revert back to the simpler times of snowball fights and hot cocoa with open (and snowball filled) arms.
Casual Community: Proceeds from ‘Snow Day’ went to the Boys and Girls Club of King Country. To me, this speaks volumes of what the Millennial generation is all about. They want to be involved in causes, but they find new ways to engage and motivate together. It’s not just about donating money to a cause or event – they want to be a part of something and moreover, they want to it be a communal experience. Look at initiatives like Kony 2012, TOMS shoes – these both show how Millennials look to get involved in new, communal ways.
Go Big or Go Home: Need I say more?! Millennials are all about making a statement whether it’s through their sense of style or everyday experiences. The people who organized this ‘Snow Day’ (Millennials of course) were not going to settle for anything less than a record-breaking title. They organized an event, but more importantly, they organized an experience for people to be a part of. An experience becomes something that Millennials are proud to partake in and something they want to share: “tag me in your post, Instagram that picture of me getting clobbered in the face, and let the world know I was there”… which brings me to last point…
Snowball Effect of Social Media: To motivate this many people to join a snowball fight, you need to get them talking. And what better way to do that then by using the many social media channels that are already so engrained in every aspect of Millennials’ lives. There were Groupon deals to generate sales of the tickets, Facebook groups to build excitement, tweets galore, and many more channels with information leading up to the event. Not to mention, once the snowball fight was in action, I was in awe at the number of people who were willing to take the risk of getting pelted with a snowball (or worse, letting their precious iPhone get pelted!) so that they could stop to document that they were there. Myself, being guilty as charged.
I’m not gonna lie, I’m a sucker for a good time – probably one of the reasons I immediately purchased my ticket for this event as soon as I got wind of it. But I realized there was more appeal to this then just a ‘good time’. As I watched the masses of twentysomethings duck behind massive snow forts, run around calling people names while slinging snowballs, and conclude by sitting around recounting the day’s events over a cup of “enhanced” hot cocoa (did I mention there was a pub crawl organized to conclude the fight), I couldn’t help but appreciate the fact that there was something so comforting and ‘all-is-right in the world’ that comes out of these simple pleasures of one’s past. I could see why Millennials gravitate towards events like this to escape from the pressures of reality. After all, sometimes it takes a snowball right to the face to ground you back to what really makes you grin ear to ear.
Ever since her days as a Red Bull Student Brand Manager while attending Brown University, Ali gravitated towards the power and impact that the Millennial generation held at its fingertips. In her various Marketing roles at Microsoft, she quickly found her sweet-spot on the Student Marketing team with an expertise in youth marketing. She drove marketing campaigns, launched offers in market, and led Worldwide student competitions; always diligent to ground herself in the research for these initiatives. She sees Millennial marketing as an opportunity to be bold, innovative and saucy and this is what keeps her coming back for more. At Ypulse, her role continues to tap into the creative inspiration from youth culture to amplify your market research and insights in style.