Brand Purpose, Millennials And The Epic Creative That Engages Them


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MSLGROUP and PRWeek convened brand leaders and agency innovators at Cannes Lions 2014 to discuss strategies for engaging today’s millennials through brand purpose and inspired creative.

Leading innovators shared insights on creating authentic connections with millennials and building creative social marketing initiatives that are driving social change.

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Brand Purpose, Millennials And The Epic Creative That Engages Them

  1. 1. 1 Leading innovators share their insights to creating authentic connections with millennials and unveil their strategies for building creative social marketing initiatives that are breaking through and driving social change. Brand Purpose, Millennials and the Epic Creative that Engages Them “This is the moment in time for PR and communications to rule the day. The paid media landscape doesn’t really have the potential to have as much impact as the earned communication.” - B. Bonin Bough, VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Mondelēz
  2. 2. The panel included: In front of a standing room-only audience at Cannes, PRWeek and MSLGROUP convened brand leaders and agency innovators to discuss strategies for engaging today’s millennials through brand purpose and inspired creative. Scott Beaudoin Global Practice Director of Corporate and Brand Citizenship MSLGROUP B. Bonin Bough VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Mondelēz Quinn Kilbury Brand Director for Newcastle Brown Ale, Heineken John Mescall Global Executive Creative Director, McCann Erickson Pavni Mittal (moderator) Correspondent at CNBC TV18 Christina Smedley VP of Global Brand and Communications, PayPal
  3. 3. 3 How has the emergence of millennials changed the way you think? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Christina, you’ve just refreshed the PayPal brand and logo and it looks younger, cooler, and more chic. What was the consumer insight for your new campaign? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Christina Smedley, PayPal It was two things that we thought through as we were getting to it. We’ve been redesigning products to work on your cell phone to begin with – that’s how this group engages consistently. Within that whole purpose what we wanted to do was start building a campaign that had faces and that human touch, but made it able to be seen on small, wearable devices as well. John Mescall, McCann Erickson There are a couple of things at play. Millennials have been brought up in an age of self-publishing where they’re not happy to merely consume content. They must be involved in it in some way – have a sense of self-expression and a sense of self through the work. The way they engage with brands is they need to be part of it. You cannot quarantine yourself from them. In many ways, if you don’t give them some form of ownership of your brand or your brand purpose or message they won’t engage with you. Secondly, they don’t differentiate between marketing and advertising messages and broader comms and pop culture. We’re all the same. You need to be as relevant and as good as the best content in the world or you get shot down. Previous generations were happy to consume advertising in many ways for its own sake and that doesn’t really work anymore. Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the tools that allow them to self-publish and to dig deep. “You need to be as relevant and as good as the best content in the world or you get shot down.” - John Mescall
  4. 4. 4 In April 2014, PayPal unveiled a new brand identity – a first for the company since 2007 – with a multifaceted campaign highlighting the people and personalities that make its products great. With more control of their finances, people are having their say in ways they never could before and PayPal’s new and innovative solutions power this. “PayPal believes in a world that works for people, rather than the other way around. For millennials, whose personal values consist of happiness, passion, diversity, security, and experiences, this is even more important,” says PayPal’s vice president of global brand, Christina Smedley. “We knew we needed to make PayPal more human and relatable for the millennial crowd to understand, connect and engage with our brand.” Tactics PayPal believes we have entered the era of the People Economy – a time of significant change when people and their relationship to money are being reimagined. People are able to create global businesses without a storefront, turn their car into a taxi service or pay for a meal without taking out their wallet. This change is already under way, but PayPal needed to find a way to communicate its role in this movement. PayPal worked with agency partners at MSLGROUP, Grayling and Havas to conduct interviews with media around the globe. Media was invited to the unveiling of the new logo at the PayPal campus in San Jose and to witness firsthand the excitement of the PayPal employees around this “People First” initiative. Following the announcement, activities continued with strategic placement of ads and marketing communications through television, print, digital, out of home, experiential, in-store and social channels. Media outreach and social engagement continues, with program extensions planned throughout the year. Results Starting April 30, coverage was secured across a range of outlets, resulting in more than 160 pieces of coverage in the days following the announcement. Broadcast spots have appeared in Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. Employee engagement was a crucial component of the new brand purpose from the outset. In the first week alone, direct employee feedback included: • I was super energized after the all hands! Excited to see what’s coming! • We are changing the payment world!!!! • I started a few months ago, and I love the passion at PayPal. This new brand feels young, reenergized and fresh. While outreach continues, 1,308 articles have been published globally, resulting in more than 1.62B impressions. Across social channels, there have been more than 51.4M impressions. PayPal Case Study Campaign: Powering the People Economy Duration: February 2014 – Current
  5. 5. 5 Has brand purpose become more important? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Scott Beaudoin, MSLGROUP Absolutely. MSLGROUP did a 16-country study of more than 8,000 millennials and the results centered around three things that we call resilience, relevance and resonance. The younger millennials really see brands as being resilient in trying to drive change. They feel brands have the power to unite through messaging. If you are commercializing around brand purpose, it’s very clear that it needs to resonate with what millennials believe in and what they care about. If brands aren’t where millennials think they should be then they’re nowhere. Let me ask the brand marketers that are here: How are you working with this kind of insight? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale It’s about being self-aware as a brand. We’ve got a saying on the Newcastle Brown Ale team – you need to give the Internet what it wants. We think of the Internet as millennials, males 22 to 29 – that’s our sweet spot. You just have to know what you have the right to say because in the end, as a beer brand, I don’t have the right to save the children. I do have the right to say you should be taking a cab because I’m asking you to drink my beer. It’s figuring out the right way to get your purpose across in the right way. Millennials have a really good BS sniffer. They know when you’re not being true. Just be truthful in advertising. That’s resonated really well. B. Bonin Bough, Mondelēz When you look at the tail end of millennials they actually fall directly in the sweet spot of our core consumer, parent with kids 6 to 12 years old. Don’t see millennials as some totally different beast that you have to market to. They are really the sweet spot of the consumer that you’re marketing to. The shift right now is not just how do you market to millennials, but how do you market to that “connected generation.” They’ve grown up way more mobile friendly, way more mobile focused. That’s where the transformation is.
  6. 6. 6 Source – MSLGROUP’s “Are You Ready for Business Citizenship?” Study with 18-35 year olds in 17 countries and 8,566 interviews | Research Now Panel How do you Connect Brand Purpose with Epic Creative to Capture Millennials? Move the conversation from vague to precise. want brands to be more active in the problems we are all facing.68% Where the BrandS can make an iMpact, Millennials expect brands to focus their efforts on rather than what’s important to millennials personally. Implication: Involvement in a micro issue will make it easier for a brand to focus messaging and creative. They do not expect every industry to address every issue – only the issues relevant to that industry. want more meaningful connections with people who share their dreams for the world69% wish it were easier to know which brands were doing good for society79% Implication: Tell your story; take millennials on a journey from idea to implementing change to change. It is no longer the “before and after” scenario. Rely on storytelling and refrain from bragging. Understand it’s not my creative, but our creative. There is direct correlation between millennials getting involved and their belief that they have a greater voice in driving change Implication: Crowdsource your creative ideas by engaging millennials in social platforms and asking them to contribute to the creative process. would be proud to be associated with a brand that they perceive is doing the right thing74% are looking to brands to provide simple ways for them to make a differencealMost Half MSLGROUP conducted global research that offers new insights about how brands and companies should engage with millennials around brand purpose and creativity:
  7. 7. 7 So how is the relationship between brands and the millennials changing? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Christina, is it tougher for you because you’re not just selling products you’re also selling a service? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Smedley Everyone needs money and it’s not money as you know it anymore. Money is going to be on your phone. You are not going to walk around with cash. We see data that’s showing about 68 percent of millennials don’t want to go to a bank anymore. They think we can be their bank. Bough Look at our brand, Oreo. We did a [gay pride] rainbow cookie. Today a cookie can have a point of view on a cultural moment that’s so distinct. You can only do that now because you’re talking to the core consumer, which is the millennial, who have an appreciation for a brand being able to have a point of view – that point without saying anything, just one image. You’re talking to that generation now. The relationship between brand and millennial consumer is that you can actually have a dialogue with them that’s really built around what resonates in culture right now. Smedley Venmo is an app that we acquired last year. Fundamentally, it’s like watching a slice of American Friday nights every time. People talk about how they’re spending their money whether it’s for shopping or hamburgers and they will share absolutely everything in this feed. As a brand you can’t intervene in that conversation because it’s really a private one, but very, very public. What you can do is you can start to frame a conversation about the topics that they’re talking about.
  8. 8. 8 At South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) 2014 in Austin, Texas, Mondelēz International and its Oreo brand hosted a large-scale activation called “Trending Vending.” The objective was to further distinguish Oreo’s brand innovation thought leadership in a crowded snacking industry space with key audiences. With Trending Vending, Oreo leveraged connectivity and customization in a creative, fun way to create an engaging consumer experience. SXSWi is a crowded space with many competing to have their ideas heard, so PR was a critical component in achieving these goals. Oreo challenged and explored the existing snacking paradigm where companies decide the cookies that consumers eat, asking, “What if consumers could customize cookies according to their mood of the moment?” After researching and testing concepts around the customer journey, the team mapped out the consumer experience to determine what motivates users, ultimately resulting in the concept for Trending Vending. Oreo knew that SXSWi would be the ideal testing ground for this emerging technology, providing a unique opportunity to get feedback from the digital-savvy crowd. Oreo created two proprietary vending machines that enabled SXSWi visitors to create custom snacks based on trending Twitter conversations. Using transparent touch screens, users could literally taste the trend by scrolling through a list of trending topics, with each trend representing a particular flavor combination and pattern. Tactics Leveraging tactics including a press release, traditional and social media outreach, as well as on-site media liaising, the Trending Vending activation propelled one of the largest spikes in Oreo social conversation and media attention since the brand’s “dunk in the dark” tweet of the 2013 Super Bowl. Buzz on the ground was tangible, with approximately 10,000 visitors, or one-third of all festival attendees. The activation garnered 6 million media impressions in two weeks and over 360 Trending Vending mentions on broadcast channels, including local, national and international stations. Mondelēz Case Study
  9. 9. 9 Results Trending Vending generated palpable excitement and meaningful buzz, with results including: • 10,000 visitors, or one-third of SXSWi Interactive attendees, who waited in line for 2+ hours despite rainy weather, for a chance to be part of the experiment • 42+ million online/print and social media impressions • Trending Vending was one of the most talked-about activations at SXSWi, with positive Twitter sentiment beating Oreo and CPG benchmarks • Highest Twitter engagement at SXSWi among comparable food and snacking brand activations, despite higher spend by competitors • Nearly 5,000 tweets mentioned Oreo and SXSWi together • 360+ broadcast mentions in local and national TV outlets • 58 article placements in two weeks: • 98% was favorable or neutral • 62% included key messages • 41% was in-depth (including pieces in Fast Company, Wall Street Journal and CNN) Since the activation, Oreo has received multiple requests from national broadcast morning shows and trade show organizers to have the machines featured on-site.
  10. 10. 10 Can you give me an example of someone who’s got it? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 John, the challenge for you is that Metro Trains Melbourne was not a cool brand. How do you work around that to drive purpose? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Mescall The message was destined to be ignored because no one likes being told what to do. Think about when you’re a teenager – you’re hardwired to resist messages from on high. The best thing you can ever do is have a very honest, hard look at yourselves and the message and say we’re not marketers anymore, we’re not agency people. We have the audience in the room with us and apply the bullshit filters and ask would anyone care? If not, what could we do to get them engaging with our brand purpose and message? It’s hard, but it’s simple. [Brand marketers] have got more power than they’ve ever had in the history of marketing right now thanks to social platforms, but to exercise that power they must relinquish control. With Dumb Ways to Die, we never told you not to do it, ever. So people are happy then to share it peer to peer. We started from that basis of we’re not in control here. Kilbury You have to be newsworthy, too, to a certain extent. And you have to figure out a way that’s got to be a super creative idea that people are going to want to choose your brand over cute kittens and Justin Bieber. It’s really hard to beat cute kittens. Kilbury The P&G Secret brand. I think arriving at a brand purpose around fearlessness is such a strong connection to young girls today. They have purpose, commercialize around purpose, and connect it to their citizenship actions. They’re helping stop bullying in the world, which is a huge issue for millennial girls. Brands need to jump into conversations that are relevant and their points of view must be grounded in who they are.
  11. 11. 11 How do you convert connecting with millennials to getting them to buy? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 But do you have to be young yourself to understand millennials’ views? What is the average age of your teams? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Bough I would say it’s not young enough. I’m not young enough. The bigger question is how are we going to understand a young millennial demographic if we spend most of our time within the four walls of our office? That’s where I think part of the challenge is. Most marketers leave their house, they go to the office, they leave the office, they go home and that’s their understanding of the world. If you want to understand electronic dance music culture, go to events, go understand what’s happening there. I don’t think we do enough anthropological work. I don’t think it has to be a young or old person. Kilbury We do a fair amount. Honestly, you can never do enough. You have to do all of these things and you have to understand there’s a huge difference between a 33-year-old, married with a kid millennial and a 25-year-old, single millennial. They are not the same people. They might digest media the same way. You still have to get on their Facebook feed the same way, which by the way is through PR not through social. PR is the key to our campaigns. It’s all about getting in the newsfeed. But if you’re not out there understanding what they care about you can’t possibly become important enough in their lives to make a difference. Kilbury Actually, it’s not that hard. We’ve basically found when people are talking about us as a brand people are buying us. It’s a badge category. You need to get people talking about it. Bough Does people talking about my brand or my brand's purpose equate to sales? Yes, of course. When you look at Beats by Dre, there was no paid media for the first two years. It was all around the influencer. This is the moment in time for PR and communications to rule the day. The paid media landscape doesn’t really have the potential to have as much impact as the earned communication.
  12. 12. 12 Kilbury Not every brand has to stand for changing the world. You just have to be honest because millennials will call you on it. You have to establish the fact that you have the right to play in a space. Newcastle Brown Ale being about telling the truth in the No Bollocks campaign will allow us in the future to do something maybe bigger and bolder. Mescall You don’t have to change the world, but you have to change my world. You have to have a reason to exist. Don’t just sell me shit. Why? There’s too much out there. Why should I have you in my life? Change something for me. Allow me to move forward in some small way. Beaudoin The future of purpose is profit. What we found is that millennials want to co-create. It’s not your creative, it’s our creative. Mescall You need to launch a campaign platform that’s open from the start. So in Dumb Ways, the film launched on day one. On day two we launched the karaoke version because we knew people could use the music to make their own parodies. On day three the parodies started coming. The client was smart enough to allow people to and never interfere. You don’t disable comments. If people make the most outrageously profane parodies, let them. Don’t crack down on anything. From day one say we want you. This is yours. The old way of a person feeling good about a brand is to wear the big logo on their chest. The Nike swoosh said I’m part of Nike. Now you need to feed them with stuff that they can then use to self-express in their social communities through you. If you don’t do that they’ll ignore you. How do you balance commercialization, the bottom line, and still stand for brand purpose? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 “Not every brand has to stand for changing the world. You just have to be honest because millennials will call you on it.” - Quinn Kilbury
  13. 13. 13 “What we found is that millennials want to co-create. It’s not your creative, it’s our creative.” - Scott Beaudoin If I was a brand wanting to reach out to millennials, what are your three tips? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Beaudoin It’s very clear there are three things - head, heart and hands. What I mean by that is for the older millennials it was really the heart. You want them to understand that you are more than just about selling products. There needs to be a confluence today with the younger millennials around hands and head. Head in that they are very rational. They can separate and they can call you out if you’re not doing it right. Hands because they want to not only collaborate and co-create, they want action and want to be part of it. They want to be part of a brand’s citizenship action. If I were a brand I would be thinking of those three in the context of purpose. Don’t stop at heart because millennials are very smart, very rational and action oriented. Bough The power of the opportunity that we have in front of us is to co-create with consumers and allow them to share, allow them to be a part of the message, allow them to shape it and make it their own. But the hardest thing is for brands to also have a feedback loop. What do we learn from that? I was with the CMO of Burger King and what was interesting is not only do they participate in social and listen, but they actually turn what they’re hearing in social into menu items. We had a similar example where we launched 3D-printed Oreo cookies at South by Southwest. It’s the most cynical audience in the world. The goal was to see if we can change customization. There were two machines. You could just watch the process happen and taste the cookie, but you couldn’t actually control it. The other one you waited two hours and you could control the process. What came out of it was people would wait in line for two hours to get one customized Oreo cookie. We’re going back and figuring out how to create a line of mass customized product that we can deliver and create a new business. So you have to basically part with some of the power that you have as brand custodians. Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18
  14. 14. 14 Kilbury The non-Super Bowl Super Bowl ad. Most of us who worked on that campaign have worked on a Super Bowl campaign before, so we knew that there’s a pattern to the way that’s going to work and we also knew that our consumer, the younger millennials, want to watch the game. Very few ads do well anymore on the Super Bowl. We created a hypothetical campaign that made fun of Super Bowl campaigns and it got more impressions than any Super Bowl campaign because it was relevant to this consumer and they got it immediately. We didn’t have any money behind that Anna Kendrick video and that was so important because if we had tried to buy the views all of a sudden it’s an ad. Mescall My advice would be just assume from minute one that you can be world famous inside of two months and just make it happen. No matter how much money you’ve got, pretend that you’re poor. Don’t buy any media. Give yourself a ridiculously ambitious target and challenge great people to meet it. Be the toughest client in the world in terms of the brand purpose. I will accept nothing that isn’t great and that will ignite a global conversation around my brand and I am 100 percent open to what it is. I have no expectations of what it is. That would be great fun. Give an example from your experience, something that your brand has done. Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Smedley I agree. The opportunity is having audacious goals and going after them really aggressively. But [it is also about] how you pull technology through to help you. At PayPal you can’t turn around without bumping into loads of data. That’s something that we are beginning to pull through in how we build campaigns. We like to do really cool stuff. We use that data to tell our story in a meaningful way. Bough Well in the words of [Weber Shandwick’s] Gail Heimann just matter to the world. We don’t appreciate how important culture and news is in terms of breaking through and communicating with people. “The opportunity is having audacious goals and going after them really aggressively. But [it is also about] how you pull technology through to help you.” - Christina Smedley
  15. 15. 15 The Big Game. It’s the one week when Americans actually seek out ads rather than skipping over them. And Newcastle Brown Ale wanted to be the most talked about brand at the Super Bowl. The problem was that Newcastle didn’t have the money to make a Big Game ad or permission to be anywhere near the Big Game. So the brand created a campaign entitled “If We Made It” that calls bollocks on overhyped Big Game advertising tactics. The initiative started like any mega-hyped Big Game ad with teasers and trailers for the ad Newcastle would have made and used Twitter’s promoted posts and accounts to hijack the Super Bowl conversation two weeks before the game. Newcastle showed the ad to focus groups and released a film with their real reactions and revealed videos of the celebrities that would have been in the ad including NFL star Keyshawn Johnson and actress Anna Kendrick. Tactics Newcastle built buzz through an advertorial for Gawker, promoted post on Reddit, and leveraged a relationship with ESPN to create a few cheap TV spots aimed at sports fans. All of these were released in the 10 days leading up to the game. The Anna Kendrick’s not-a-Super-Bowl spot for Newcastle went viral and the initiative was mentioned on Conan and the Today Show. Results Newcastle received 600 organic media placements, earning 1 billion impressions and received more than 10 million views across 15 pieces of content, becoming a number one trending topic on Facebook two days in a row, ahead of even the Big Game itself. In the weeks that followed, Newcastle saw an 18% bump in purchase intent and a 416% lift in brand conversation compared to the biggest beer in America’s 187% average. All for one-thirtieth of their budget. The commercial was named one of the top Big Game commercials by almost every major media outlet including Time and Us Weekly. The first time for a commercial that didn’t actually run in the Super Bowl. Newcastle Brown Ale proved that you don’t have to actually be in the Big Game to win the Big Game. Newcastle Case Study Campaign: If We Made It
  16. 16. 16 What are the hot sectors in today’s conversations? Pavni Mittal, CNBC TV18 Bough Space is hot. I tried to put an Oreo in space. The maker movement is super-hot right now. Tech is red hot, always. The startup culture is red hot. We’re just not doing enough in that space. Technology is going to transform fortunes and business and it’s in its infancy right now. So much runway and so many organizations are still turning a blind eye to that. Smedley The technology space. I spend my life in the Valley surrounded by people who are thinking of these things all the time. It’s just phenomenal what’s going to happen. As marketers I just don’t know whether we’re engaging and leaning into it as much as we should be. Kilbury Data is the key to unlocking consumers and their lives on a mass scale. The way that they consume media, you can get all of that from data. Also, just knowing what people do on a daily basis allows you as a brand to do great stuff. You get to a point of view, but you’ve got to know what they’re doing in order to break into that point of view. Beaudoin One of the things that came out in the research is that kindness in the world is an area that millennials want brands to get more involved in. Our China team is doing a program with candy brand Alpenliebe, all around simple acts of kindness and creating a movement in China. It’s a huge hit there. The idea of kindness is very interesting because it’s the biggest delta on where brands are today and where they should go for millennials. It’s something to explore. For more information, please contact: and