Massaging the Message for Millennials

Massaging the Message for Millennials

Last week an ad agency friend/former boss and I had a brief discussion via email about a recent Monday Morning Memo by Roy H. Williams.  You can read it here.

By the way, for solid advertising and marketing information intertwined with great stories about life and the adventures and misadventures of greats, near-greats, and ne’er-do-wells that’s free from a lot of esoteric digerati speak, I recommend that you subscribe to The Monday Morning Memo.  It’s free and will appear in your email, yep, every Monday morning.

The title of this MMM is How to Build a Bridge to Millennials, meaning how advertisers can massage their message to reach that important demo.

How do we reach, talk to and sell to millennials?  Basically, the Memo says the answer to that is to create “colorful, memorable, entertaining characters.”  It mentions examples from James Bond to Andy Griffith to Forest Gump.  For millennials, I might throw in a quirky Sheldon Cooper.

The underlying concept of the memo seems to be creating a bond with memorable, likable characters who tell us stories.  In advertising, that would be believable stories that communicate value.  That breeds confidence in a business, product or service, which, over time, begets trust.  Roy Williams appears to be saying that it’s not about short-term, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately price cutting, but rather, the longer game.

The two or three back-and-forth emails between my friend and me that were prompted by the MMM blog went like this:


Friend:  So, I finally subscribed to [The Monday Morning Memo]… what do you think about this week’s edition?

Larson:  I’ve always believed that storytelling should be part of advertising.  For lasting relationships (with customers, clients) and burning the brand into the mind and especially, building trust, stories from a consistent character or characters often wins the day [over the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am approach that requires repeatedly reinventing the wheel].  But…value needs to be created by the story, or at least value must be running beneath the surface.  However, value is not always about saving money.  So, why develop stories with memorable characters?  To build consistency, loyalty, and trust.  The number-one reason people buy everyday items (frequently used) is consistency…and, of course, trust is enveloped in that.  And that, I believe is why Roy Williams is correct.  Those things are attractive to all ages, including millennials.

Friend:  Try to project at least a LITTLE personality out there… be likable … one way or another… and/or entertaining… punchline jokes usually don’t work; funny isn’t always punchlines.  And one thing about “building trust” … you CANNOT ask/tell/command someone to “Trust ME” … it’s the shortcut to distrust I have always felt.  However, trust can be built through some familiarity by projecting a little bit of personality out there… one way or another.

Larson:  True dat.  And yes, overtly saying “trust me” is the fastest way to not be trusted.  Consistently familiar characters that engender value + time = trust and loyalty.


How does one reach millennials?  The same way one would reach everyone else.  People are people.  You have to make it attractive to them with relatable, engaging characters, consistency, and valve.  Over time, that builds trust …and repeat customers.

And that’s the LB-VO notion about that.


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