Tags: olympics

Coke, Olympics and the Oscars: 3 Examples of Millennial Storytelling

Coke, Olympics and the Oscars: 3 Examples of Millennial Storytelling

Beyond • March 12, 2014

It sounds like a joke: Coke, the Olympics and the Oscars walked into a bar… It’s no joke. These three brand titans just showed us what it means to me a millennial company. A millennial company isn’t just about a company that caters to a millennial audience made up of generation Y’ers. It’s about perspective. A millennial company looks to the future and realizes that you’re only a part of it if your brand reflects the current consumer consciousness. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos puts it: “All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworth’s.” As Coke, the Olympics, and the Oscars showed us, the current consumer consciousness for a millennial audience is all about storytelling. Coke The soft drink juggernaut blew us away during Superbowl with an ad that changed history. Featuring a patchwork of American diversity, the ad was cradled by a beautifully sung “America, the Beautiful.” The twist: it was sung in streams of different languages making up the American landscape. The sell: This is America; this is Coke. It was a huge hit and completely changed the game. At no point did Coke try to say the obvious selling point, or try to make a political message. It just captured the American sentiment, packaged it, and pitched it. That it comes from Coke is enough of an association for any viewer – and that’s what Coke understands. Olympics This year, just as many eyes were on the emerging side stories as on the athletes on game day. We saw media flooded with news about the stray dog round-up in Sochi. Humanitarian stories considered who was negatively impacted by the super construction and clean up efforts of a city starved for Olympic income. We also saw journalists capture pictures of their experiences dealing with the poor living conditions during their stay in Sochi. In fact, memes popped up over it. And then we saw the LGBT factor, merging politics in with the Olympics. And finally, we had an issue piece on the nude photography protests some Lebanese citizens created in response to the provocative photo by the Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun. I walked away from the Olympics knowing more about international issues than who won the gold where. From a news media perspective, this tells you that news is also slowly molding itself to a Millennial audience that wants to hear about the human side of an event. In generations past, the Olympics were big; the Olympics were the only event that needed paying attention to. Now, for a Millennial audience, gaps in the big picture are just as important as the big picture itself. Oscars Aside from the celebrity fan-fare, the wardrobe, the films, and line-up of immaculately made stars were several side stories that also weaved their way into the Oscars this year. As with the Olympics, side stories are major news to Millenials. One of them was about Sarah Jones, an assistant crew member on “Midnight Rider” who lost her life during production. The 27 year old camera operation was hit by a freight train, which raised production safety issues for cast members that aren’t starlets. Looking beyond starlets, there was another back story that looked at where the original child cast members for “Slumdog Millionaire” are today – nearly all of whom were deemed exploited (by being paid pennies on the dollar) and then abandoned by industry producers. This brings us to the brand narrative the Oscars tried to sell: that stars are just everyday people like the rest of us. They’re “relatable”. Impromptu pizza deliveries so unsurreptitiously eaten and the selfies taken were aides in bolstering that image. Of course, there’s also the fact that Samsung and Pepsi worked to advertise themselves in the process – which brings us to another point. Marketers understand that Millenials want stories. They don’t want to be told how to feel about a product, nor pushed to buy it. Millenials respond best to usage, which is why you see an increased number of direct in-show product placement. As part of the $20 million dollar ad deal with ABC’s viewing of the Oscars, Samsung negotiated to have the Galaxy Smartphone integrated into the show. So what felt like a spontaneous act of much-loved celebrities doing what all Millenials do, was actually a quite contrived (and genius) move by marketers who get the Millennial audience. For the millennial, marketing works best when it’s integrated into how we view each other and how it tells a story. Brands that can create that level of dialogue have our attention.


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Benchmark 5: Business Lessons From the Sochi Winter Olympics

Benchmark 5: Business Lessons From the Sochi Winter Olympics

Beyond • February 13, 2014

The Olympics are always exciting. One, because they don’t happen every year. Two, because there’s always incredible story lines. Some athletes train their who lives for one fleeting moment. It’s amazing to watch. That’s why I wrote the Benchmark 5: Business Lessons From the Sochi Winter Olympics. Train tirelessly for a singular goal. Sometimes, it’s hard to lose sight of the bigger picture. When you’re an Olympic athlete, it’s probably hard to be training for something that is three years away. They stay focused and their hard work and determination pays off when they march around the opening ceremonies representing their countries. Stay driven. Be aware of cultural differences. With the Internet, it’s easier than ever for businesses to go global. It’s important to understand who you may be perceived in various places. While the @SochiProblems account has been entertaining, it’s gotten some blowback from some saying it’s American’s being snobby. Playing hurt isn’t always the best game plan. Bob Costas tried to stay on the NBC broadcast, despite having pink eye in both eyes. The conversation became about his eyes, rather than the Olympics. It’s honorable to play hurt, work sick, etc., but sometimes it would be at the expense of the best work possible. It’s hard to stay the best. Shaun White was attempting his 3rd straight gold this year in the Olympics. He fell in his final run, ending his golden hopes. When (if) you’re on top, remember how hard everyone else is working to get where you are. It will help drive you to stay there. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. Russia has gotten it’s fair share of criticism for the Sochi Olympics. Plenty of it is merited (like the human rights concerns). Some of it is probably unfair. At least Russia can also laugh at itself. When a video of the Russian Police Choir went viral, Russia decided they’d rather be in on the joke. They reprised their performance during the opening ceremonies, and boy is it gold. Sometimes, it’s ok for others to have a little fun at your expense. It will humanize your company and your brand.


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