Scandal in the Age of Acceptance

This Monday, we took a look at how Millennial attitudes are shifting their views on just what can be deemed scandalous in The End Of Scandal As We Know It. We also told you that though they may be changing, scandals will not become extinct and that new issues that matter to Millennials will rise up to take the place of the traditionally taboo public behaviors. For this generation, scandals will be made up of those things that Millennials find socially unpalatable, like corporate discrimination and cover-ups. In this world, there is such a thing as bad PR — because while Millennials are quick to forgive personal missteps and brand product and marketing failures, publicly aired opinions that don’t fit into their worldview are scandal igniters. Here’s a look at some recent scandals that signify the shift:

 

1. A&F’s “Cool Kids” Comments

Abercrombie & Fitch has had a serious branding problem and PR scandal on their hands since comments that CEO Mike Jeffries made that the youth retailer does not produce plus-sized clothing because they “go after the cool kids” were publicized earlier this month. The comments incited a wave of anger and reactions from consumers online and off. Interestingly, the interview in which these comments were made is seven years old, a fact that is significant in a few ways. First, the public perception of what brands are responsible for, how they should act, and the plus-sized clothing acceptance movement has changed significantly in that time. Second, Millennials have aged up and become more economically and culturally influential since 2007. Finally, the internet means that everything a brand puts out into the public can affect their reputation—even if years have past since the gaffe. Millennials, a generation that has been taught that acceptance is the…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “The issue I am most passionate about is LGBTQ, because in the words of Dr. Seuss ‘A person is a person, no matter how small.’” –Female, 18, KY

Being able to mix up a good cocktail is an attractive quality to Millennials. A recent study commissioned by Southern Comfort found that 70% of single 21-34-year-olds who drink alcohol at least once a month would date a mixologist, and almost all (94%) say that they’re impressed by someone who can make a good drink. The survey on singles also found that 10% are intimated by whiskey (though we know that more of the generation is embracing it) and 44% are planning to stay home and cook for Valentine’s Day (which makes sense seeing as “home-cooked meal” is on their top 15 Valentine’s gift list this year). (Los Angeles Times)

Brands looking to get Millennials on their side need to speak to them—not like them. A survey on brand communication reveals that young consumers aren’t responsive to companies that use slang, emojis, and celebrity quotes. Two-thirds don’t find words like “bae” and “yasss” effective on social media platforms, 70% don’t like it when you say “on fleek,” and 83% think using abbreviations like LOL and FOMO are “a poor attempt by brands to relate to them.” Another word you should steer clear of is “Millennial”—42% loathe when advertisers say it. What’s important is communicating effectively without trying so hard to be “hip” (another word you shouldn’t use). (Adweek

Toyota’s Scion brand launched to build cars for the non-conformist Millennial, but the quirky line is being shut down. The unique-looking vehicle was originally a hit for younger consumers and Toyota reports that 50% of buyers were under 35-years-old. But sales peaked in 2006, and have been falling—not because those younger consumers stopped buying cars, but because they’re more interested in “performance and safety” than colorful design. For brands, the lesson may be that focusing on quality is “a better strategy than pursuing the ever-changing perception of cool.” (Forbes

As Millennials deal with the repercussions of student debt and low income, they may be turning to risky financial solutions to help them get by. The number of consumers taking out personal loans increased by 18% between 2013 and 2015, and a Bankrate survey found that 18% of 18-29-year-olds say they are very or somewhat likely to use a personal loan this year—more than any other age group. With 63% of U.S. adults lacking emergency funds, personal loans have become an easy option to get money quickly without negatively affecting their credit scores. (MarketWatchBankrate)

Time Inc. is continuing their pursuit of Millennial women with Motto, a new website targeting young female consumers with articles on “work, life, and play.” Time Digital’s managing editor reports that, “an enormous amount of [Time, Inc.’s] traffic, especially in social media, is about self-improvement and living a better life.” Motto will feature such “inspirational and motivational” daily stories and video content, which will be posted to Facebook and YouTube, written by Time magazine staffers, celebrities, and politicians. They expect more than 50% of readers to access the site through mobile and tablet. (The Wall Street Journal

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

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies