Why Catfish Matters

Season two of MTV docu-series Catfish: The TV Show debuted to 2.5 million viewers, and was the number one cable telecast of the day among viewers ages 12-34, a demo otherwise known as Millennials. The show is a hit, and signifies larger shifts in reality TV tastes and their entertainment desires. Here are some of the reasons that Catfish matters, and what it says about Millennial viewers.

 It puts the real back into reality.

It might seem ironic that realness is so big a part of a show about people who are on TV for telling lies, but one reason that Catfish matters is that it is telling the truth about real lives of real people. We talk a lot about authenticity and Millennials’ desire to know all the facts and be told the truth. Though reality TV has a genre name that implies it is all real all the time, Millennial viewers have gotten used to the fact that reality shows are staged, and that “unscripted” programs most likely have a staff of writers working behind the scenes. Catfish shows a shift in the genre, and a re-emphasis on the showcasing of real lives, real emotions, and real moments. If it ever came out that elements of Catfish were faked, there is a good chance that it would seriously damage or even end the show. Actual reality in this case is a vital part of what makes the show successful. Millennials want real, and Catfish serves it up in a way that few shows aimed at them in the past have done.

 It is anti-aspiration.

There are no makeovers here, and most likely not even a happy ending for the young people who participate. Watching Catfish is not about wanting what you see. When hosts Nev and Max pull up to the house of the catfish, they are usually visiting humble places, in small towns. The young people on the show are often unhappy with where they are and who…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “When a brand can adapt to all shoppers, it makes me trust them more.”

—Female, 24, MI

A startup is leveraging angry tweets to let brands find new consumers, and engineer some incredibly personalized marketing. Customer service listening tool SocialRank Realtime allows brands to view a dashboard of tweets from consumers “who might be fans of theirs in the future.” For example, after viewing a tweet from a potential consumer about a flight delay, an airport restaurant might send over a cup of coffee to their location. The tool touts its ability to let brands to create “real relationships” with consumers and has already signed on Juicy Couture and Aéropostale. (Business Insider)  

Teens are watching influencers on YouTube, but what are the teen influencers watching? According to an Influenster survey of 14-51-year-old “tastemaker consumers,” 93% of 14-18-year-old influencers are watching product reviews—compared to 86% of overall respondents. Haul videos came in next in popularity at 76% (24% more than overall), followed by unboxing videos at 71% (19% more than overall). Seven in ten teen influencers are also watching YouTube videos at least once a day, and 42% say they can watch between six to 15 per sitting. (eMarketer

Pokémon Go is still going. The revolutionary game, which attracted 500 million users in eight weeks last summer, has made an estimated $1 billion in the last seven months and reports “a very large level” of users. The second version of the game will soon be released, with 80 new monsters to catch—which is good news for brands. According to the CEO of Niantic Labs, the game will soon be integrating ads that fit in organically to the platform, and the game’s partnership with Starbucks on a Pokémon Go beverage “opened a lot of people’s eyes to start imagining other cool things that you can do.” (Adweek

Wattpad is the latest company getting into storytelling via text messages. The social publishing platform has launched mobile app Tap, where readers can discover “chat-style” stories across genres like horror, romance, drama and more. Although fiction app Hooked and kid-targeted Amazon Rapids takes a similar approach, Tap is the only one that takes a “voyeuristic” angle, giving readers the feeling that they’re reading through someone else’s chat messages—a move that can appeal to teenagers and young adults. (TechCrunch

Nordstrom is going above and beyond the “typical department store” offerings to reach young consumers. Earlier this week, the retailer launched the Lab—an incubator venture that showcases indie, new designers with “completely different audiences, messages, and points of view.” Each season will bring a new crop of designers, and according to the retailer, new stories: “It's the full package — who is the designer, what is their story, what do they stand for, why are they doing what they are doing, who is it for. There’s an authenticity [in that].” (Racked

Quote of the Day: “For my engagement ring, I want a tattoo. No ring.”—Female, 30, AZ

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