When It Comes To Serious Topics: How To Get Inside A Milennial’s Head

Today's post comes from Ypulse Research Manager, Nicole Tarantino. 


Every Peerent’s nightmare – sitting their Millennial down to talk about ‘serious topics'. When attempting to reach this always connected, know it all generation – especially as a brand or authority, there’s a few time-and-again proven ways to go about it. 

Catch their attention with shock value. 

Millennials have ten thousand things pulling their focus in opposite directions, all at the same time, so when and if you can catch their attention, it would be a shame to miss the window of opportunity. Public Service Announcements (PSAs) and advocacy groups have been using the shock value of gruesome, attention-grabbing clips to force Millennials to realize the reality of the subject for years – and it still works. 

PSFK recently showcased a new PSA by charity, End7, that generates awareness about topical diseases. The PSA showed celebrities reacting to videos of those effected by tropical diseases. Afterwards, the PSA ad showed the audience what each celebrity watched. This PSA gained much attention by forcing those who would usually ignore these topics to face their reality.

One PSA I know I’ll never forget (as I’d bet most others in my generation won’t either) was when Rachael Leigh Cook showed us our brain, then showed us our brain on drugs using a frying pan and an egg as an analogy. She then went on to smash the whole kitchen to show viewers how drugs affect every aspect of life.  Even though this aired in 1998, this was the first PSA that came to mind when I started to think about this form of advertising. 

Shock value PSAs are proving are highly mobile, even across borders. Even though these three were meant for UK audiences, the following ads were so…


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

The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “Retail should be a facilitator for experience, rather than just selling product.”—Sharmandean Reid, Founder, Wah Nails London (YPulse)

Millennials seeking portable booze are cracking open canned wine. Even though the category still only accounts for less than 1% of the Millennial-favorite alcoholic beverages’ market, Nielsen reports it spiked 69% last year and continues to gain ground. An exec at Delicato Family Wines explains, “Millennials have grown up in a world where consuming wine outdoors—or any location outside of the traditional table—is more acceptable than generations past.” (Wine Spectator)

Summer camps are cropping up to teach kids how to become YouTubers. At I-D Tech Camps, Level Up, and Star Camps, kids can learn all about how to, as the latter puts it, “Become an Internet sensation.” They offer courses in how to create and post videos, from shooting clips to editing audio, and how to build their personal brand. But don’t worry, most are framing YouTubing as a hobby, not a career, and setting kids’ expectations accordingly. (WSJ)

A new bill could change the free-to-play profit model that’s made games like Fortnite top earners. Senators have proposed the official ban of “loot boxes,” or items that players can buy (and sometimes must buy) to win a video game, often gambling on what’s inside. Senator Ed Markey explains that “Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds.” For some, this will eliminate a key revenue stream and open the door to review other in-game purchases.  (The Verge)

A social media overhaul upped Corn Nuts’ sales by 12%—with no paid support.The snack’s sales were stagnant before a new exec took over their Twitter, infusing it with the personable tone food brands have become known for (and sometimes notorious for). Since then, followers spiked from 650 to 21,000, and what they’re calling a “scrappy” strategy “absolutely translated to sales,” reporting that retail sales spiked 12% and Millennials’ repeat purchases rose the same percentage. (Marketing Dive)

The retail apocalypse continues, with 7,000 more stores closing their doors in 2019. CoStar Group estimates that the square footage of retail space closed has topped its own record each year since 2017, and this year they’re “predicting more of the same.” PayLess ShoeSource, Gymboree, Dressbarn, and Charlotte Russe lead the list of number stores planned to shutter this year, as retailers learn to scale down size and up Experiencification for young shoppers. (Business Insider

Quote of the Day: “It’s a really interesting time at the moment in catalog [music]…Sometimes, it’s a question of how we make something out of nothing.”—Tim Fraser-Harding, President, Global Catalogue, Recorded Music at Warner Music Group (Rolling Stone)

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