Hoax Fatigue: The (Probably) Pranks Millennials Aren’t Believing This Week

April 1st is just four days away, but on the internet every day is April Fools Day. Pranks and hoaxes have become so widespread that it seems not 24 hours goes by without yet another fake news story, trailer, ad, product, or video going viral only to be debunked. Gawker has even begun running a weekly column, called Antiviral, “in which [they] run down the worst hoaxes, pranks, Photoshops and straight-out lies blowing up on the internet” to keep readers in the loop on what news was real and what was fake. Brands have embraced fooling the public with prankvertising, and it’s becoming unsurprising for a viral video to turn out to be an ad. The more pranks the Millennial public is exposed to, the less effective the approach may be for brands.
 
The trend The Age of Not Believing in our upcoming Lifeline report (which will be released to subscribers March 31) will be examining the way the constant presence of pranks and hoaxes, among other factors, has helped to reshape the way Millennials view the world, and brands. We found that 84% of Millennials have believed something that they saw or read to be true or real, only to find out later that it wasn’t, and that number increases to 94% for those under 18-years-old. Thanks to their skeptic eyes, when an unexpected story spreads the attempts to debunk it begin almost immediately. It is a case of the “brand who cried wolf”— after enough times of being fooled, now campaigns are being questioned even before the truth is revealed. In short, if you want to participate in the prankvertising trend, be prepared: it’s harder than ever to fool Millennials these days.  Here are the marketing stories being accused of fakery as we speak: 


American Beagle Outfitters
This week, American Eagle is under Millennials’ microscopes for their announcement…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I actively avoid discussions of TV shows.”—Male, 31, MI

Networks are launching an onslaught of new streaming services to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. CBS, Disney, and now Warner Media are hopping on the bandwagon to compete for young cord-cutters' viewing time. The digital switch makes sense, considering 74% of 13-36-year-olds told Ypulse they watch Netflix weekly, versus 33% who watch cable weekly. But one eMarketer analyst predicts this over-saturation in the streaming wars will lead to “a shakeout," in which companies will be weeded out unless they consolidate their offerings. (THR)

Macy’s is putting virtual reality in 90 stores, with the “largest VR rollout in retail history.” Shoppers can don HTC Vive VR headsets to create 3D floor plans, design their living spaces, deck them out with Macy’s furniture, and then take a step inside of the room. The retail tech enables smaller Macy’s stores to offer a lot more inventory to shoppers, and follows in the footsteps of other reality-bending home décor brands. And, according to Macy’s, VR sales were 60% higher than regular sales in their three pilot stores. (MediaPost)

Prada is plotting a comeback among young consumers. They’ve been slow to adapt to digital, but now the luxury company is emphasizing Instagram and aiming to grow their online sales, which were just 5% in early 2018. While investors applaud Prada’s dive into digital, they also believe the brand needs to shutter several stores—not just to increase “profitability” but to create “the illusion of scarcity.” Prada also has to recover from being late to the luxury streetwear game. (Bloomberg)

Some teens are opting for technical school over four-year universities. At Queens Tech, high schoolers are trained to take on non-desk jobs, like being an electrical engineer or working for public transit companies. Earning a high paycheck that isn’t chipped away by student debt is helping to overcome the societal stigma of skipping college. According to one Queens Tech student, “If you’re a construction worker, you may get paid the same as a doctor, but you don’t look as good.” (Vice)

Don't expect to see macho men and swooning women in grooming brands' latest ads. Instead, companies across the industry are toning down the machismo for Millennial & Gen Z males. Some are blurring gender lines, like Dollar Shave Club, whose “Get Ready” spots debunked stereotypes by not just casting straight, cis males. Other brands are betting modern men are more in touch with their emotions, like Gillette, who shared the touching story of a man’s son becoming an NFL linebacker, despite missing one hand.
(Ad Age)

Quote of the Day: “[Zendaya] is such a beautiful human being and I grew up watching her on the Disney Channel.”—Female, 18, TX

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