The Serious Faux Pas: Reality TV

In today’s segment of our Serious Faux Pas series, we’re looking at how Millennials’ attraction to the irreverent over the self-serious has changed the reality TV landscape.

 

In early April, Bill Simmons’ Sports Guy Q&A segment on Grantland featured the following exchange on reality TV:

 Q: I'm flipping back and forth between the NCAA tournament and MTV's retro marathon of the 1993 San Francisco season of the Real World. Is this really how people acted in the 90's? These people suck. There hasn't been any sex, barely any drinking and all conflicts have been resolved through open discussions. Did everyone in the 90's take themselves this seriously? Did everyone feel they need to take up a cause? Why are they rock climbing so much? Watching this is making me thankful to be in my 20's now and not then. —Pat, Chicago

 SG: And you wonder why everyone from Generation X is so bitter.

The question (and response) highlights a huge shift in the kind of reality TV that young people want to consume. The Real World has been on MTV since 1992 when the series kicked off in New York. That is 21 years of 20-somethings being documented living together while they stop being polite and starting being real— and a lot has changed.

The early seasons of the show, which many consider the first reality series, were full of earnest Xers making impassioned statements about their views on life and social issues. Serious topics like prejudice, AIDS, substance abuse and sexuality were tackled by roommates who were also figuring out how to live together when they came from such different backgrounds. Flash-forward ten years and the show had shifted considerably to focus on hook-ups, heavy partying, and roommate drama that was more likely to stem from people getting on one another’s nerves than judging…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“My work schedule can be hectic, so I snack on nuts, berries, or other non-deadly foods during any downtime.”

—Male, 32, KY

AwesomenessTV and fashion/beauty brands are coming together to make branded series for Gen Z. In the past, AwesomenessTV has worked with numerous brands to produce original content, including CoverGirl and Kohl’s. Now they’re planning a 24-part docu-series with Hollister called “This is Summer,” following teens’ high school journeys—while they’re clad in shoppable Hollister clothing of course. Our own Chief Content Officer explains that Ypulse has “found Gen Z to be fairly open to watching sponsored entertainment,” with 77% of 13-17-year-olds agreeing, "As long as the story is interesting, I don't mind that it is sponsored." (Glossy)

Fullscreen agrees that Gen Z is the generation that’s most receptive to branded content. Their survey found over half of Gen Z doesn’t mind even undisclosed branded content, and significantly more Gen Z teens than Millennials have engaged with social branded content (viewing photos, liking and sharing content and tagging friends) in the past six months. Influencer marketing wins out with the group, with over half of teens preferring influencer content to pre-roll, sponsored posts, banners, and traditional TV commercials. The sweet spot for advertisers may be branded video, especially when influencers are involved. (TubefilterAdweek)

Graduation spending is expected to reach a record $5.6 billion for the Class of 2017. Over half of the graduation gifts given will be cash, followed by greeting cards, gift cards, apparel, and electronic devices. Another trend for the year is more and more peers giving each other gifts, with a 6% lift year over year. Younger consumers will spend an average of $78.42 ,compared to 45-54-year-olds’ $119.84 and 65-and-over’s $112.34, and while greeting cards are also most popular, they’re also almost twice as likely to gift clothing. (ConsumerAffairs)

Instagram has the “most negative impact on young people’s mental wellbeing,” followed by Snapchat, according to a recent study. The image-centric platforms could “driv[e] feelings of inadequacy and anxiety,” and were rated the most poorly for their impacts on sleep, FOMO, and body image. Out of the top five most popular social media platforms, YouTube was the only one that earned a positive score. The silver lining? Some argue the evaluation is “blaming the medium for the message,” and social media/online communities are also Gen Z and Millennials’ top resource for learning about “mindfulness, meditation, and wellness,” according to Ypulse data. (The Guardian)

Lego is being called the “most powerful brand in the world,” beating out Google, Visa, and Nike. Brand Finance’s latest valuation report shows Lego’s brand value increased 68% over last year, looking at metrics like “familiarity, loyalty, promotion, marketing investment, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation.” At least some of the lift can be attributed to the successful movie franchise (The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie) and its strategic partnership with Star Wars.

(Business Insider)

“I kind of don't like the commercialization of fandom culture…However, creating licensed products is one way a brand could interact.”

—Male, 24, MO

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