Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

Today's post comes from Ypulse General Manager Jake Katz.

Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

GirlsIn 2010, The New York Times published an article called “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” This identification of the “emerging adulthood” Millennial phenomenon serves as the creative seed from which HBO’s “Girls” has grown.

“Girls” has sparked as much discussion in the marketing/media community as it has among its viewers. Thematically, the show brings to life many Millennial concepts. In particular, the growing complexities of dating (it’s no coincidence an article titled "The End of Courtship?" ran the same week as “Girls’” premiere). Additionally, the show’s exploration of navigating one’s post-college path to success mirrors much of what our research here at Ypulse shows about how Millennials are realizing their dreams in a post-recession economy.

While much of the discussion around the show has been quick to point out its misses (a lack of diversity in the cast, arguably skin deep analyses of life from Dunham), stepping back and examining it from a few levels higher brings up a more important discussion. The media industry should quickly be decoding what it means for our perceptions, visions, and assumptions of “mainstream America”, that a show set in the most notoriously niche and infamously marketing trapdoor of Williamsburg is as relatable to 20-somethings as the more obvious “The Carrie Diaries.”

The elephant in the room has now been recognized. For every big brand that has learned to assess new ideas, talent, trends, and marketing through a lens of mainstream versus leading edge, could this be the moment we realize the gap between leading edge and mainstream has nearly dissolved? Maybe.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We know this generation of youth…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “My favorite brand on social media is Complex, because it's more of an online network that reports on urban culture.”

—Male, 23, MI

Luxury watch brands are innovating to cater to what could be their biggest opportunity: Generation Z. A September 2016 survey from Mintel found one in five 16-24-year-olds reported they were thinking of buying a watch “in the coming months,” and that “the young are the biggest buyers of all age groups.” As a result, watch brands are taking marketing online. Omega says that social media is not part of their marketing strategy but “the way [they] communicate.” (Financial Times)  

A group of moms is making hijabs for Barbie to battle Islamophobia. Created through a partnership with the non-profit For Good, Hello Hijab sells $6 handmade headscarves for dolls, available April 1st, along with a card explaining what the accessory is. As one founder explains, the aim is for a more inclusive generation: “They will see it as a kind memory from their playtime, and then they will grow into a kinder generation…used to playing with dolls that look different to them.” Profits from the new doll accessory will go to support multicultural communities. (RT)

Netflix is winning the “steaming wars”—at least on home TV sets. comScore’s analysis into video streamed over Wi-Fi to televisions in U.S. homes found Netflix’s penetration is around 40%, while YouTube, the next most-used service, was less than 30%. Both Amazon and Hulu are far behind at below 20%, but the latter was found to have engagement rates on par with Netflix: “People who do use [them] use [them] a lot…Both services engage their users for more than 25 hours a month.” (Recode)

Chipotle wants to "slyly” promote kids’ healthy food habits with an unbranded video series. RAD Lands, available for purchase on iTunes, follows “the Cultivators” as they try to save the galaxy’s animals and plants, and features cooking segments with celebrity chefs and musical appearances by the likes of Biz Markie and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Described as an “entertainment Trojan horse,” the series is all about educating the next generation while also making a play to win back consumers after the brand’s food-related illness issue. (Ad Age

Airbnb is launching Aibiying, a new brand to target Chinese Millennials. The company’s research has shown an increase of 142% of travel out of China in 2016, and 80% of their users in the country are under 35. The young travelers are also a “lucrative market” according to one expert: "Chinese Millennials are likely to travel farther afield -- and to spend more while traveling—as their disposable incomes and appetite for adventure grow." Aibiying, which translates to "Welcome each other with love,” will include the brand’s latest “Trips” and “Experiences” features. (Inc.

Quote of the Day: “Budweiser ads are memorable because they pull at the heart strings with the horses and dogs.”—Female, 22, CA

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