Getting Weird: How Bizarre Marketing is Appealing to Millennials

A generation raised on absurdist humor is eating up entertainment and marketing that isn't afraid to get weird. To capture their attention these days it seems the more random and bizarre, the better.

They’re a generation of consumers raised on the absurdist humor of Ren and Stimpy, Rocco’s Modern Life, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, and even Spongebob—and they haven’t grown out of it. As we covered in our most recent trend report, Things Are Getting Weird. While overtly sexy images in marketing make them yawn, entertainment and ads that get a little weird, ok, or a lot weird, are getting their attention. Brands are tapping into their appetite for the off-the-wall and out-of-the-box, running campaigns that celebrate the strange and put a spotlight on the nonsensical. Right now, the weirder the content, the more likely it will get young consumers’ attention. It seems the further from the norm and the less sense it makes the better.

How did we get here? The majority of Millennials and teens watched at least one show as children than featured some majorly surrealist humor. These shows celebrated the ridiculous and paid no attention to traditional children’s entertainment norms. Forty percent watched Family Guy growing up, a show that plays with non-linear storytelling, random cutaways, and stretching the absurd as far as it will reach. They are approaching adult entertainment with these expectations baked into them. These young consumers are not just marketing savvy, they’ve seen it all. Sex sells might still be a mantra, but it doesn’t actually capture their attention. Right now, surreal, insane, nonsensical content is one category that still takes them by surprise and makes them talk.

We've seen hints of this weirdness appeal for some time. Old Spice captured Millennials again by…


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Quote of the Day:  Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.”—Kate McManus, VP of Marketing, Delicato Family Wines (Wine Spectator)

Young consumers are “killing the shopping spree.” Whether they’re signing up for the growing number of clothing subscription services (Rent the Runway, Le Tote, Urban Outfitters, etc.), shopping second-hand, or just culling their closets—young shoppers are quitting fast fashion in droves. Some are inspired by Marie Kondo’s joy-sparking brand of minimalism, while others want to help the environment—and still others are just seeking a wide range of things to wear at a lower price. (Vice)

Airbnb is launching “adventures” for experience-seeking young travelers. The site that started with accommodations and moved into one-off “experiences” (like dinner parties) now offers multi-day excursions, complete with guides, gear, meals, and accommodations. The platform already features over 200 trips in 40 countries, including a tiger-tracking expedition in Kenya and a trek through the canyons of Oman. (Fast Company)

Tyson Foods is taking on the fake meat market with plant-based nuggets. The pea protein nuggets are the first in a line of “Raised & Rooted” products from Tyson Foods. The brand's CEO explains they’re catering to the “growing number of people open to flexible diets that include both meat and plant-based protein”—aka young flexitarians, not full-time vegans. But can a company known for its meat sell the idea that “this [trend] is about ‘and’—not ‘or’”? (The Verge)

Snapchatters can shop Levi’s new Pride Month jacket via selfie filter. The Shoppable feature is first enabled by scanning a QR code found at select stores or by getting a special Snapcode from a friend. Then, users can try on the special-edition trucker jacket via augmented reality, customizing it with one of two washes and a selection of six pins and patches. Once they complete the look, users can purchase the Pride Month Jacket—without ever leaving the app. (SJ)

Amazon’s new Echo Dot Kids Edition revamps the original. The new smart speakertakes many cues from the adult version’s second generation (it’s louder and rounder) but adds special features just for kids that go beyond a rainbow-striped color scheme. The device will come with a year of FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service that includes popular Alexa skills like Pinkfong’s Baby Shark Adventures, as well as an enhanced parental control suite to address growing privacy concerns. (VarietyCNET)

Quote of the Day: “Young people still have an incredible interest in the Olympic Games…But the way they are consuming the Olympic Games—the type of content they are watching and the ways and the platforms on which they are watching—are fundamentally changing.”—Kit McConnell, Sports Director, International Olympic Committee (Bloomberg)

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