Can Anybody Market to Kids Today?
Who can understand anything they say?
You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can't they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids today?
"Kids" from the musical Bye Bye Birdie
Much has been written about today's teens as being wired, wireless and digitally connected. And, of course, advertisers are starting to take notice -- especially since teens are increasingly resistant to traditional advertising.
Kids today are distracted by their constant connectivity, according to a recent study by the advertising firm Energy BBDO. Add to that a healthy level of cynicism, and advertisers are perplexed at how to reach this demographic, which Energy BBDO terms "SuperConnectors." "What we see is that often, they are [using active and passive media] at the same time, they may be multitasking or doing an activity with friends," said Chip Walker of Energy BBDO. "The days of using technology purely to veg out seem to be gone."
SuperConnectors also have a global outlook, with their ability to network with peers worldwide... and this may also be affecting how teens perceive brands. An article reprinted from Women's Wear Daily posted on the Energy BBDO website says that American brands are hurting in the global marketplace, suffering in part from the increasingly negative image of the US abroad.
Advertisers study products that seem to be making inroads into the teen marketplace... and are noting that often, these products are not supported by traditional advertising. The Energy BBDO report suggests ways of reaching out to SuperConnectors, including leveraging the technologies kids use, and making their messages interactive. Products, moreover, should be customizable and reflect the owner's sense of expression, rather than being status symbols in of themselves.
Such advice, however, is not new, and advertisers' continuing preoccupation with reaching teens reflects their continuing frustration in not being able to do so. Could it be that kids today are so jaded, cynical and preoccupied that all conventional advertising is lost on them? More fundamentally, do kids even have a sense of trusted brands, which are the underpinnings of all advertising?
UPDATE: Miss Rogue of the horsepigcow.com blog offers a solution that could be applied to marketing to today's kids -- "pinko marketing."