A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

February 25, 2016

Four Things Ad Agencies Can Learn From Millennials

By McKenzie Telthorst

As a Senior Brand Manager at UPBrand, I’ve done a ton of research on Millennials. The more I learn about this generation, the more I find myself…inspired. In advertising & marketing, I’ve found we have something to learn from the Millennial credo.

But, first a little context. Millennials are up to 80 million strong in the US alone and are projected to spend $10 trillion in their lifetimes. If a brand could even capture 0.1% of that sweet wallet (or future robot wallet), it would make a cool million from each Millennial consumer. I know it’s true because I’m terrible at math and asked our accountant.

Obviously, every client we serve is trying to get a piece of that delicious spending pie. Who can blame them? As a self-diagnosed old Millennial, I have to say we’re pretty great. But being just a few years shy of Gen X, I have to say “shut up Millennials, that’s so narcissistic.”

Here are a few ways to apply the ideals of the youths to become better strategists, account people and creatives.

New Girl YOUTHS gif


Be Restless

Millennials crave the joys of adventure and discovery, whether epic or everyday. Sometimes misinterpreted as simple wanderlust, they’re actually rebelling against the status quo and searching for something bigger, better or more meaningful.

In marketing, it’s sometimes easier to go with the idea that reveals itself first. It’s rare for that idea to be the best one. Just remember that clients don’t hire us to provide the obvious. They need us to push past the expected, build on it, twist it around and bring it back to their brand. We get paid to be rebels! Always fight for something better.


Be Real

Growing up in a society where they were betrayed by politicians, religious leaders and even the environment, Millennials have some major trust issues. As such, they value authenticity and transparency over anything else.

Being authentic in marketing and advertising actually leads to better results. If you’re honest with your team, transparent with clients and true to the brand you’re serving, you’ll earn trust. And when you’re trusted, you get to do all the fun, aforementioned rebellious stuff.


Be Connected

The world has been changed forever with ubiquitous mobile devices, an obsession with content and a constant FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Millennials are constantly connected to each other and the world around them via their ever-present smartphones. And they’re bored with the latest viral video by the time Gen X even hears about it.

Take a cue from Millennials and connect with what’s trending…frequently. While it’s hard to fit it in with all actual work* to be done, but you never know what post, video, or app is going to inspire you to do something more interesting.

*Can we call it work when the entire agency is trying to shoot down a toy drone with a toy gun at 2pm on a Tuesday?


Be Collaborative

Millennials share their opinions, cars, even houses more freely than previous generations could have imagined. Plus, they crave the opinions of others and validate most decisions with peers or an online community of strangers.

In advertising and marketing, ideas are rarely at their best in a vacuum. Adding more brains (respectfully), even bringing clients into your process earlier or more often, avoids the big reveal and makes everyone feel like a part of the solution. And, a collaborative environment makes everyone feel more invested in the success of the project and the agency itself.


MillenialsLove ‘em or hate ‘em, Millennials are the future. They’re inspiring companies and brands to make changes about how they operate. They’re paving the way for the next generation (coined the “Founders”, by the super-reliable research outlet, MTV). They’re even affecting how older generations think and feel about the world–quite possibly because they’re living in their parents’ basements.

Don’t ignore them–embrace them. Allow their ideals to wash over you. At least until the next generation comes along.


Latest Posts