What is it about the word “millennial” that is so cringe inducing? As a young woman living in New York City and working in media, I encounter the term more than I’d like. I hear it in strategy meetings, and then read about it when I’m not paying attention in those meetings and scrolling through NYMag.com. In fact, a quick search for “millennial” on that website garners a whopping 15,060 articles. I’ve heard large, publicly traded brands debate its relevance just as much as a two-person fashion company does. Millennial is everywhere—yet, for some reason, few people speak to it in a meaningful way.
A lady never reveals her age (I’m sure LinkedIn could say otherwise), but let me tell you, I’m smack in the middle of millennial. I’m at the age in which my friends laugh about recent college grads and wonder if they even know how to pick up girls in bars anymore. Do they even know how to look you in the eyes and give a good handshake? Then everyone scowls, scrolls through Instagram, gives a few swipes on Tinder, and eventually the subject changes. This is a generation that craves what’s authentic (check out this Brooklyn-based artisanal axe manufacturer!), but struggles to articulate such a desire. It’s been a while—perhaps since the Baby Boomers—that a generation has been treated as such a commodity. We are a conflicted bunch.
As a commodity, I’ve seen both sides of the job and consumer market—pre-recession and post. While working for a large, magazine publisher, I watched our annual holiday parties get downgraded from six-figure black-tie affairs, to cafeteria pizza parties with a bonus check, to a bonus check, to a pizza party, and then eventually that magazine was sold. But, of course, most of us were laid off before that happened anyway. We were treated as commodities. It’s no wonder that people now job hop nearly twice as much as we used to. We are in an age when people crave the human side of a brand. There are angry consumers out there, shouting to be treated as real human beings. You’ll see them in human resources offices, at political protests, and in the comments of sponsored Facebook posts—they’re everywhere and they crave the truth.
So how do you speak to this group of people? The question has practically become a cliché in the marketing world. It is my goal as the Editorial Director of Unbound Edition to speak to this awkward gap between business and consumer, as best I can—to put my finger on why an idea does or doesn’t work through the lens of advertising and media. And who am I to do such a thing? I’ve worked for fashion megabrands, in publishing, at two-person food start ups, for myself, and for both terrible and great bosses. I’m a millennial, a conflicted commodity, but most of all, I’m a person—and I’m just like you.
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