Health-Consciousness, Food Marketing & How Chipotle is Shaping Up For Millennials

Chipotle, the long-time Millennial favorite, has done it again. And again. And again. The beloved Mexican chain recently announced that it will start delivering (yes, I said delivering) the delicious burritos and bowls that you would otherwise have to wait on a line that probably extends around the circumference of the restaurant for. This was enough to bring us instant-gratification loving Millennials to our knees. Then, Chipotle outdid itself for the foodie generation of America.


Courtesy of Chipotle’s Website

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Courtesy of Chipotle’s Instagram

This week, Chipotle announced that it has removed all genetically modified organism ingredients from the food it serves in its restaurants (Forbes). The change was the result of Chipotle’s pledge in 2013 to become completely GMO free. Chipotle CEO told the New York Times that the move is “another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food.” However, it also seems to be a clear attempt to win over Millennials (like they haven’t already…). The campaign to share the news is reaching beyond traditional media to social media as the brand shared the news on its Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter. But using social media isn’t the only way that this will help Chipotle solidify Millennials’ coveted patronage. So why is this such a smart move on Chipotle’s part?

It’s Health Conscious. Millennials love food. But what do they love even more? Food that’s fresh, natural and fits into a healthy lifestyle. And they actually care about what goes into what they eat. According to a study called Adult Millennials and Health, 95% of Millennials said that health is paramount. Millennials are even willing to spend more on healthy products. A report conducted by the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness survey, 32% of Millennials would be willing to spend more money for healthier products compared to 26% of Generation X’ers, 21% of Baby Boomers and 16% of the Silent Generation. Millennials have long considered Chipotle to be one of the healthier “fast food,” so this will only serve to boost this status among Millennials.

It’s Ahead of the Pack. Millennials like to lead and see themselves as future leaders of the world. So it’s not that shocking that they want their brands to be leaders too. According to an article by the Center for Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School, Millennials like the brands that try to better themselves and make the world a better place. They want to “actively contribute to a brand with a strong purpose as opposed to the company’s bottom line.” In 2013, Chipotle was the first restaurant chain to indicate the food items on its menu that contain GMOs. Grocery and restaurant chains are following suit. As they should.


Crowd Sourcing, Gamification & How Old Spice is Getting Millennials in on the Action

When I think of Old Spice advertising I think of the Old Spice guy in “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” That seems to be the case for most of us, judging from the fact that “old spice guy” is the second search option on Google. And just like I tend to think of girls twirling in white dresses or playing volleyball on the beach when I think of advertising for feminine hygiene products, I think of guys like the “old spice guy” or the promise of being hunted down by hot women when I think of male hygiene ads. Stereotypical? Yes. But this kind of advertising happens enough that it’s become the norm. So I actually get pretty excited when those brands do something a little bit different.

About a week ago, Old Spice started doing something completely different, and pretty clever. The brand launched a new campaign called “Nature Adventure” to promote its new Old Spice Fresher Collection. Except this time around, the familiar Old Spice guy was be nowhere in sight. Instead, Old Spice used Twitch, Amazon’s game-streaming service to place a real man in the middle of the woods. Old Spice called on viewers to control the man’s actions in realtime by typing in the chat box. Old Spice also had tricks and booby traps in the woods (think bear arm wrestling, swimming with beavers, etc.) for the man to encounter to amuse viewers. The campaign apparently got its inspiration from a previous viral campaign on Twitch about a year ago where users played Pokemon together by controlling the game’s protagonist and Pokemon through messaging in the chat function. Many are also comparing the campaign to Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” where viewers influenced the mascot’s actions.

According to Wieden+Kennedy, the agency responsible for the campaign, “the effort is the first ever crowd-sourced gaming experience by a non-videogame brand on Twitch.” (Creativity). However, it’s important to note that Twitch is not a gaming platform in the traditional sense. It’s a live-streaming video game platform that is mainly used to watch others play games in real time and chat with players to possibly influence what happens.

This unique campaign has the potential to really engage Millennials and here’s why:

It’s crowd sourced. Millennials want to get involved and they like to see that they’ve had an influence, so a crowd sourced campaign is bound to get them excited. According to a report released by Edelman in 2013, Millennials are “crowdsourcing’s king.” The report found that 74% of Millennials view themselves as “alpha influencers,” shaping the purchasing decisions of others. They also want brands that don’t just listen to them, but let them participate in what brands are putting out there. According to the CTO of agency 22squared, “Millennials…are more willing to join in this co-creation process because more than other age groups, they want to be a part of, rather than a recipient of, experiences” (Cognizant).

It’s a game. While Twitch might not be a traditional gaming platform like Xbox, letting users influence games that are being played still allows for the gamification of a brand experience that Millennials love. According to a study by MTV in 2011 (seems to be the year when everyone was talking about the buzzword) half of Millennials agreed with the statement, “People my age see real life as a video game” and about 60% thought that #winning is the generation’s slogan.

Authenticity, & How Sperry Isn’t Giving Millennials Familiar Shoes to Walk In

Attention world: Sperry Top-Sider will now go by Sperry. To be honest, this “change” doesn’t seem too monumental to me – it doesn’t make the brand any less reminiscent of preppy lacrosse players and kind of reminds me of when I tried to go by “Vanna” in elementary school (it didn’t stick). But to Sperry Top – erm, Sperry, it’s a pretty huge deal and it’s part of their attempt at rebranding.

Sperry has redesigned its logo and launched a new campaign, “Odyssey Await” to reposition itself among adventure-seeking Millennials. Sperry’s rebranding and new campaign will focus on reconnecting the brand to its roots – it’s an 80-year old company inspired by the sea and its founder, former naval officer, Richard Sperry. The brand has two goals – to strengthen the relationship and loyalty of existing Sperry-lovers and to grow its fan base introduce the brand to unfamiliar consumers of a certain genre the brand calls “Intrepids.” According to Sperry, an intrepid is a modern day explorer, a Millennial discoverer. Co-founder of the ad agency working on the campaign, Mono, explained to Adweek, “There’s a certain section of Millennials that really look at life as an opportunity… [Intrepid consumers] want to have meaningful experiences and align with brands that provide opportunities for such.”

The campaign, “Odyssey Await,” which has been launched in print, digital and social media, focuses on the idea that stories are “written” with feet. The most recent ad for the campaign features young what looks like 20-somethings doing “adventurous” things like jumping from boats, swimming, and running on beaches, all wearing Sperrys of course. The next phase of the ad puts Millennials in the shoes of the storyteller – the brand has sponsored a select group of Millennial vloggers to go on their own personal Odyssey in Hawaii, funded by Sperry. This part of the campaign gives consumers a taste of the brand experience and allows for some user generated content.

When I first read about Sperry’s rebranding and campaign I thought the idea seemed to hit the nail on the head in what would appeal to Millennials. They had it down – appealing to the adventurous, discovery seeking, travel enthusiast nature of Millennials, giving them a brand with more personality and an experience. It sounded like it would be more authentic since the whole idea behind the campaign was reconnecting the brand to its roots and original inspiration.

But then I watched the ad. And after that, I read the comments. And I realized that everything about it was just… annoying. The main question that I and many other commenters had was: why are these people swimming in shoes? And that in itself symbolizes my problem, and many others’, with the campaign. It’s not real. It’s not authentic. Sperry seems to think that it really has Millennials down – the ad might as well have the word Millennial plastered over the footage. Everything about the ad screams that Sperry did its research on Millennials – figured out that they’re like, sooo adventurous – and then just boiled it down to hipsters splashing around in various aquatic situations in their very expensive shoes, because that’s what Millennails do right? They might as well film the next episode of “Girls” on a boat and call it a day.

In other words, it’s too Millennial. Sperry is trying too hard to “know” Millennials, and instead of showing Millennials it knows them, it’s giving them an inauthentic picture of what they think Millennials are. As a result, it comes across as inauthentic. What Sperry clearly didn’t know is, Millennials hate the brands that try too hard to win them over. To quote Loyalty 360 – and it’s a quote that I don’t think Millennial marketers will forget – “You know that look kids give their parents when they co-opt their slang, trying to close the generation gap and appear hip? That’s how Millennials feel when you try to shove down their throats how well you know them.” Sperry might not have put a label with the word “Millennial” on their ads, but it’s clear that they really think they’re doing the Millennial thing right. Unfortunately, they have a little more to learn.

Humor & How Neil Patrick Harris is Killing it with Millennials for Heineken Light

Haaave you met… Neil Patrick Harris? (Joke for any HIMYM fans). Although I’m pretty sure most of you have not, I’m guessing you all know who he is. For those of you who don’t, he’s pretty well-known for his role as Barney on How I Met Your Mother, his appearance in Gone Girl in December, hosting the Oscars in February, and generally for just being awesomely hilarious and talented. Harris also happens to be the face of Heineken Light, and the brand is killing it with Millennials with the actor by its side.

Heineken Light released two new ads last Sunday, starring Neil Patrick Harris. The actor (dancer, singer, comedian – you name it) first appeared in the brand’s advertisements in the summer of 2014. In this new edition of the campaign, Heineken is using a typical marketing tactic, the money-back guarantee, and poking fun at it to resonate with its target audience of Millennials. The ad is focused around Heineken Light’s newest promotion, the “Best Tasting Light Guarantee.”

In the 15-second teaser ad, Neil Patrick Harris appears with a Heineken Light bottle in front of a white screen and delivers a reluctant sales pitch. Harris explains that anyone who does not believe that Heineken Light is the best tasting light beer will get their money back – the money back guarantee is indeed real, although not available in all 50 states. However, he hilariously tells viewers that it is not Harris himself, who will give them their money back, but “Someone at Heineken, I’m guessing.” The 2-minute long online ad, which is even funnier, features Neil Patrick Harris in a grocery store, being approached by various shoppers who refer to him as “the guy from the Heineken Light ads” rather than Neil Patrick Harris, who is of course known for many other things. They even get his name wrong.

The “Best Tasting Light Guarantee” and new Heineken Light ads were actually created specifically for the Millennial target audience. According to Fortune, the VP of Heineken USA discussed the reasoning behind the initiative to prove to Millennials that Heineken Light is truly the best tasting light beer. He explained, that according to a Consumer Edge Insights’ Beverage DemandTracker study, they found that 40% of 21-27 year olds desire light beer with a more full-flavored taste. As a result, Heineken recreated the brew for its light beer to give it a fuller taste and has launched this campaign to show consumers that the changes it has made to the brew make it the best light beer out there.

The videos have gone viral over the past week and have been extremely successful among Millennials. Why has it done so well with the audience? Well, pretty simply, it’s funny! Millennials appreciate humor and they’re skeptical of traditional marketing tactics and anything that seems like a scam, oh, and they also like beer. So what better way to attract them than to make them laugh with an actor they love by poking fun at something they hate, and offering them a beer formulated for their tastes or their money back? Pretty brilliant.

Anniversary Marketing & How Coke and Pepsi are Doing it to Refresh their Brands in the Eyes of Millennials (Part 2)

Last week we looked at Pepsi’s anniversary marketing efforts and its millennial-minded revitalization of the Pepsi Challenge. Now we’ll take a look at its rival.

For the 100th anniversary of Coke’s iconic bottle, the soft drink giant launched a global campaign with advertising, music and exhibits to go with it. During a presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York in February, CEO Muhtar Kent said that the marketing campaign would be rolled out in more than 100 markets around the world. The advertisements, which have been extremely popular, are also being shared on Coke’s social media platforms.

The campaign falls under the umbrella of Coke’s “Open Happiness” campaign, which has served as the platform for the brand for six years. Coke is not the only brand trying to own happiness as of late – McDonald’s and Dove are also trying to make the world a happier place and influence the minds of consumers with their Pay with Lovin’ and #SpeakBeautiful campaign (which I blogged about a few weeks ago if anyone’s curious!) respectively. As the most recent effort in the Open Happiness campaign, coke is using the hastag #MakeItHappy which was featured in its Super Bowl ad this year. A few weeks ago, Coke used Ascii art, which generates images out of lines of text, to #MakeItHappy by targeting hateful tweets.

Coke’s marketing efforts for the anniversary of its package design and its overall happiness campaign are calculated attempts at targeting Millennials and have done very well with the audience. So, why has it done so well and what lessons can be learned from its success?

For the #MakeItHappy campaign, the answer is simple. Millennials want to be happy. According to a study by ZenithOptimedia, what the generation really care about is the pursuit of happiness. The study explained, “At this age, their own happiness is what’s most important, their personal lives are being shaped and their lives are being defined. ZenithOptimedia’s insight from the study is that brands that create meaningful experiences that make Millennials happier. Of course, brands must always be careful to seem genuine, and the claim to benefit Millennials lives must actually be true. Millennials know that any for-profit company has less than altruistic intentions, they can see through marketing efforts if they’re fake, and they can easily become cynical. Coke was able to be genuine enough to gain Millennials approval – The #MakeItHappy Twitter effort received 95% positive and neutral social responses.

For the anniversary campaign specifically there are three overarching qualities that make the campaign so successful with Millennials:

It gets them involved. For one of the ads released, “A Generous World,” Coke also posted a slightly different, unfinished version of the ad on Facebook. Coke urged social media users to view the video and “channel their inner screenwriters” by using the #AndTheCokeGoesTo to tell Coke who they thought would get the next Coke. Coke then posted the full video with a new ending. Millennials love to be heard and feel special (and more loyal) when their input is taken seriously by brands.

It tells a story. And not just any story. The history of the Coca-Cola bottle is not only extremely interesting but relevant to Millennials’ lives and tugs on their nostalgic heartstrings. The Coke bottle has influenced design and pop culture for the last 100 years, which Millennials recognize is awesome. Millennials don’t self-identify with just one title but with many (Artistic food blog-writing activist? Sounds about right.) and they want to make an impact on the world, so a bottle that has influenced art and culture, and changed the world? They’re all over the story behind that. For more on why nostalgia is a helpful tool for Millennial marketers, read my blog post from last week! 

It’s global. The Coke campaign has been launched in over 100 countries. One of its ads for the anniversary campaign also highlights diversity through showing different hands touching each other (pretty powerful image – see above!). The Millennial generation is the most diverse generation in the history of America. Do I need to say more.

There’s so much to say about these campaigns that I can’t fit into one blog post. Overall, I think what really spoke to me as a Millennial in both the #MakeItHappy campaign and the Anniversary campaign, beyond tactical choices, is that they’re about powerful ideas. Even when the focus of the anniversary campaign is the bottle, a product, it’s not about selling. It’s about Coke being influential and leading change, and I think this really resonates with Millennials, who have big plans for themselves.

Anniversary Marketing & How Coke and Pepsi are Doing it to Refresh their Brands in the Eyes of Millennials (Part 1)

Coke or Pepsi? Another legendary question that will go down in history as one of the most polarizing questions ever asked. No matter who you ask everyone has an opinion and will stand by it as if the answer has become engrained in their very person. Regardless of your preference (I’m team Coke if anyone was wondering) both brands are some of the largest global companies in the world and have obviously used good marketing to get there.

The two soda giants are also doing some celebrating, with Coke’s 100 year anniversary and Pepsi’s 40-year anniversary of the Pepsi Challenge – and have some Millennial-focused marketing to go with it. Both Coke and Pepsi have faced pretty big hurdles appealing to health-conscious, anti-gigantic corporation, pro-making the world a better place not a fatter place Millennials. But I think the two brands have done a pretty incredible job of using their anniversaries to market to Millennials and create a connection with them.

Since I could go on and on about Coke and Pepsi’s anniversary marketing campaigns and think that there are many, many lessons that can be drawn from both for Millennial marketers, I will discuss Pepsi’s campaign in this post and Coke’s next week. Pepsi’s hallmark “Pepsi Challenge” began as a blind taste test where consumers tried both Coke and Pepsi and chose what they liked better. The brand has now launched a revamped Pepsi Challenge to celebrate its 40 year anniversary in which six celebrity brand ambassadors from athletes like Usain Bolt to R&B singer Usher will announce challenges on social media from March until December of 2015.

So why is this campaign so on the mark for marketing to Millennials?

It’s a Challenge. This one’s pretty obvious, but the whole campaign is centered around doing challenges that force consumers to be innovative, daring and courageous and push themselves to “live for now.” While we may actually be more similar than we think, Millennials want to be unique and stand out from the crowd, according to research by Ypulse. And to quote Ypulse, “Millennials are adventure seekers. They want to live in the moment, have fun with their friends, and make memories.” So pushing this group to do something different and exciting is bound to get their blood pumping a little faster.

It’s Social. And I mean this in two ways. First, the campaign is social media centric, with celebrity ambassadors posting challenges on social media and Millennial challenge accepters posting their responses on social media as well. Millennials are not only digital and social media natives, but according to a recent survey by SDL, a customer experience software and services provider, social media is actually the best way to reach Millennials and we even get a sense of personal validation from posting on social media. Second, the Pepsi Challenge campaign is socially conscious, as some of the challenges will benefit local communities and every time consumers use the hashtag #Pepsichallenge on social media, Pepsi will donate $1 to Liter of Light, an organization that provides sustainable lighting in over 18 countries. Millennials care a lot about whether brands are actually trying to change the world and many of them are actually trying to change the world themselves. Brands’ CSR efforts influence 84% of Millennials’ purchasing decisions according to Cone Communications, and 7 in 10 Millennials consider themselves to be social activists according to research conducted by TBWA Worldwide.

It’s Nostalgic. With its anniversary campaign, Pepsi is essentially taking something that was really cool and really worked in the 80s and making it cool again. We Millennials may be young but we’re already at the age where we’re becoming nostalgic for our childhood, the 90s, and, according to Digiday, we’re even nostalgic for time periods we haven’t actually lived in. Taking something that was once cool and making it cool again? Sounds like a #TBT. We’re all for it.

Experiential Marketing, SxSW and How The North Face is Using both to Appeal to the Millennial Crowd

There’s one thing on every millennial marketers mind this week and it’s SxSW. For those of you who are like me and get lost in what seems to be an endless array of large-scale, millennial-attracting events taking place in the middle of deserts across the country (Burning Man? Coachella? What’s the difference?) and may be unfamiliar with SxSW, it’s actually pretty different and an incredibly unique opportunity for innovative marketers to prove their worth to the world’s most sought after generation. SxSW is essentially a traditional music festival and tech conference combined in one (think: Ultra and CES mash-up) that takes place in Austin, Texas. Millennials and marketers alike flock to the event in droves to experience everything it has to offer.

While brands from HBO, to McDonald’s, to Visa are showing up at the event in an effort to market to Millennials, The North Face is being particular innovative and capitalizing not only on the event itself to appeal to the generation but on some of the biggest emerging trends in marketing: immersive content and virtual reality marketing. The outdoorsy, active and outwear brand is now letting consumers in on the lifestyle of the mountain climbers and general adventurous types using virtual reality to bring them to Yosemite and Moab while shopping in North Face stores.


Photo Courtesy of: The North Face’s

The North Face will offer a peek into the VR campaign, sponsored in part by Jaunt, a company that provides 360-degree 3D cameras and sound, at SxSW. According to Digiday, The North Face’s Director of Digital Marketing explained that virtual reality campaign will allow the brand to “enhance our storytelling, use technology and transport people to the outdoors.” And what do Millennials like better than a brand with a great story, technology, and getting an experience? Not much. The festivities of SxSW will continue until tomorrow so it’s too soon to know for sure how Millennials will react to The North Face’s exciting tech-forward marketing campaign but I have a feeling they’ll be pretty excited about it and here’s why:

It’s experiential squared. The North Face’s campaign capitalizes on the “experience” in two ways. First, Millennials are already having an experience by being present at SxSW, or in other words, Millennials are essentially in their happy place. Millennials enjoy music festival so much that it is becoming the new “American pastime” according to a study conducted by Eventbrite, an online ticketing company that found that one in five Millennials attended a music festival in the last year. Second, The North Face is providing Millennials an exciting experience that represents the brand’s personality, for free. According to a 2014 EventTrack study, experiential marketing works. And works especially well among Millennials for whom having experiences with a brand helps them connect with a brand’s personality. And who doesn’t love free stuff?

It’s on their tech-savvy level. It’s pretty obvious by now that Millennials are technologically savvy (cough: “Digital natives”), but a recent study by Annalect, a division of Omnicom Media, proved that a brand’s use of technology is just as important as brand name for Millennials, if not more important. Millennials want brands that can keep up with them and understand their needs and desires, which go hand in hand with the use of the most up to date technology out there. Virtual reality is the next big thing and to be honest, it’s just really, really cool. And Millennials are always searching for the next cool thing aren’t we?

Overall, The North Face is providing an experience and technology overload by personally providing both at an event that already provides both. Good job, North Face. We’ll see how it all works out after the festivities of SxSW have died down.