Besides digital media and the French Riviera sun, the hottest thing at the Cannes Lions International ad festival this week is the question of how to attract millennial to businesses and brands.
I told you here on Wednesday how companies like Coca-Cola (KO) and Burberry (BURBY)—as well as TV stars like Matthew Morrison of Glee—master the challenge. It's particularly complex because this impatient generation, born between 1980 and 1995 and totaling some 80 million, demand extraordinary output from their media. Also known as Gen Y, they crave "a communal connection," MTV president Steve Friedman explained yesterday in a panel discussion moderated by his boss, Viacom (VIA) CEO Philippe Daumon. Twenty-year-old actress/singer/budding businesswoman Selena Gomez, who was also on the panel, said that she involves her young fans in the clothes and fragrances and everything else she creates for them.
To engage this audience, you have to deliver "a participatory role in the creation of content" and "a 52-week connection to a show," Friedman added. MTV has delivered that on shows like Jersey Shore and Teen Wolf, building them into hits.
What about companies that don't necessarily sell to millennial but struggle to attract and retain them as employees? "Restructure your HR and your internships," advises media consultant Jack Myers. Myers led a panel at a Cannes gathering hosted by media-buying agency UM (IPG) and Facebook (FB). He's been studying a narrow slice of the millennial generation, those born between 1991 and 1995, for a book he came out with this week. It's called Hooked Up: A New Generation's Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Saving the World. The book examines the 17- to 21-year-olds, whom Myers calls "Internet pioneers" because they represent a bridge between the pre-and post-Internet generations.
"They know how to collaborate," Myers said. "They don't know silos because they grew up without them." For this generation, the Internet is "omnipresent and omnipotent." Diversity--mixing with every race and nationality--is "second nature, part of their DNA," he added.
"People born with the Internet think of it like electricity," noted Paul Adams, global head of brand design at Facebook, who joined Myers in the discussion. As you would guess, Adams urged the baby boomers in the audience to get with the program by spending more time on Facebook so we can "understand how they share."
Myers offered another suggestion: Create a "reverse mentoring" program at your company. Many companies, such as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), already have such programs, pairing graying execs with young people who can teach them how to embrace digital life and constant sharing. Interestingly, J&J keeps its reverse mentoring program informal and avoids labeling the participants "mentors" and "mentees." Why? Well, sometimes it's best not to let the old folks know how much they need to be taught.
I was on stage with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the producer and director of Miss Representation, on Friday just after the news broke that Christina Norman was out as CEO of Oprah Winfrey's new TV network, OWN.
What an odd coincidence, since Newsom's documentary explores the dearth of women in "clout positions" in the mainstream media. Newsom says that this number is 3%.
Clearly, it is getting worse.
The day before Norman, a former president MOREPatricia Sellers - May 9, 2011 2:54 PM ET
As I told you on Friday, there's apparently no truth to the rumors that NBC Universal (GE) exec Lauren Zalaznick, who built Bravo and oversees Oxygen and more there, has been negotiating for a top job at MTV (VIAB).
After the Postcard ran, Jim Citrin, the prominent Spencer Stuart recruiter who was spotted lunching with Zalaznick at Michael's (and thus fed the rumor mill, unintentionally) popped me an email. "Too funny," MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 14, 2009 12:23 PM ET
Rumors are spreading across the Internet that NBC Universal executive Lauren Zalaznick is headed to MTV.
"There is absolutely no truth to these rumors," says Cameron Blanchard, SVP of communications for NBCU's Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks--the unit, including the Bravo network, that Zalaznick oversees.
The response from Viacom (VIAB), MTV's owner: "There's no truth to the rumors," Carole Robinson, EVP of communications for MTV Networks, told me this morning.
How did the MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 11, 2009 1:57 PM ET
"I don't think you're going to have those anymore. Bigness isn't that great an asset anymore."
-- Tom Freston, former Viacom (VIAB) CEO, in a Reuters story about the waning influence of media moguls. These titans are being upstaged by the darlings of digital, like Facebook's Marc Zuckerberg and Twitter's Evan Williams. Old and new media alike are gathered this week at the Allen & Co. media summit in Sun Valley, MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jul 9, 2009 6:27 PM ET
Here's the third and final segment of Tom Freston's 2007 commencement speech at Emerson College. In earlier posts, Viacom's (VIAB) former CEO shared career lessons and detailed the first two "things you're going to want to be able to say you've done if ever you are called upon to impart wisdom upon the young." Here are Nos. 3 and 4 on that list, along with Freston's warning about what could MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 29, 2009 12:02 PM ET
Here's part two of Tom Freston's 2007 commencement speech at Emerson College. In yesterday's post, the former Viacom (VIAB) CEO shared the story of the sudden turn in his storied media career. Here Freston explains the first two things "you're going to want to be able to say you've done if ever you are called upon to impart wisdom upon the young."
One. First and foremost: You're going to want to MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 28, 2009 12:24 PM ET
It's that time of year, so we're sharing one of our favorite commencement speeches with you: Tom Freston's 2007 address at Emerson College.
Pattie Sellers' exclusive profile of Freston, "The Most Wanted Man on the Planet," tells the story of a man who had built MTV and Viacom's (VIAB) vast cable empire, got fired by chairman Sumner Redstone, walked away with $60 million in severance -- and actually knew what MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 27, 2009 1:27 PM ET
"Make sure the people closest to the problem do the talking."
-- Geraldine Laybourne, founder of Oxygen Media, which she sold to NBC Universal (GE) for close to $1 billion in 2007. On Wednesday Laybourne hosted mentees from the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership at her home in Manhattan for a lively discussion about a range of topics -- from why there is so little international news MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 20, 2009 6:55 PM ET
This was a week for fallen heroes and flailing leaders.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner disappointed with too few details on the new bank bailout.
On Wednesday the bank CEOs got flogged in Washington - one more indignity after schlepping there on the Delta Shuttle or Amtrak's Acela.
President Obama scored with the $789 billion stimulus bill. But it emerged, after plenty of compromise, leaner than most economists had hoped for. Obama's MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 13, 2009 3:45 PM ET
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