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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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I learned to cook through ship to home meals like Blue Apron.” –Male, 24, IL

Some Millennial guys are embracing going gray—way ahead of time. Silver fox hair has joined man buns and merman hair as one of the fads they’re using to express themselves and stand out in the crowd. Though clearly not a widespread trend, Amazon has seen gray hair dye searches increase by threefold in the last year and some celebrities are showing of their silver dos on social media. One stylist tells the Times it isn’t about the natural look: “The demographic of guys who come to me to go gray are doing it more as a fashion statement.” (The New York TimesGothamist

Luxury fashion brands have been targeting teens through Snapchat, which is prompting some to ask if they’re ignoring their core market. Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry have all had recent campaigns on the platform using teen influencers like Kendall Jenner and Brooklyn Beckham. Although the promotions might miss the mark with their traditional older consumers, as well as most older Millennials, the goal is likely to influence today’s more practical young consumers to buy (or ask their parents to buy) entry-level luxury items. One analyst says that “online as a whole now influences over 60% of [luxury] purchases.” (Forbes

Taco Bell wants to be Millennials’ favorite. Despite benefiting from Chipotle’s E.coli breakout and seeing sales rise 4% last quarter, the brand is still looking to make significant changes and continue to improve their image. New menu items like the Doritos Locos and Waffle Tacos were a hit with 18-35-year-olds, and next they’re adding cage-free eggs. Fast-casual is a threat to fast food titans, but Millennials’ craving for cheap eats isn’t going away—McDonald’s is still the most visited restaurant among 20 and 30-year-olds, thanks in part to their value menu. (Business Insider

The struggle is real for Millennials, and the upcoming movie Get a Job is bringing their employment and financial problems to the big screen. The story starts off with two optimistic, bright-eyed college graduates who are in love and ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, they soon face the challenges of a tough economy with layoffs and downsizing. While they alternately lose jobs and tell each other to “step up,” they attempt to make rent, deal with debilitating student loans, and enjoy being young.  (Entertainment Weekly

YouTube is ready to be the next Netflix. YouTube Red, their $9.99 monthly subscription service, is premiering their first original shows next week, and will launch between 15-20 new ad-free shows in 2016, some featuring popular YouTube stars. The platform plans to attain success with cheaper productions, unlike Netflix’s big budget shows, and is going after the younger viewers that grew up idolizing social media stars. With YouTube focusing on the fans, networks are expecting the influencers to help the platform take-off: “There’s a reason why [millions] of people are watching them and it’s not just because it’s free.” (Los Angeles Times

“The issue I am most passionate about is the economy, because wealth disparity is killing the American dream.” –Male, 27, TX

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