Is this the first ad campaign to target Centennials? | M&M Global

Is this the first ad campaign to target Centennials?

Soft drink brand Sprite has launched a new ad featuring a teen who doesn’t appear to be a Millennial. So who is this mystery shopper and what makes him tick? J. Walker Smith, executive chairman at The Futures Company, reveals all.

Sprite Ambition

Although popular opinion across ‘adland’ is that the new Sprite commercial is targeting teen Millennials, the fact that it launches a new tagline and approach would suggest otherwise.

After almost 10 years, the Coca-Cola-owned soft drink brand has stopped claiming to be “The way things are” in favour of announcing that it is “Born to rfrsh”.

Commenting on the target market of the ad, entitled ‘Ambition’, Coca Cola’s Guillermo Gimenez y Brotons explains: “This is a more participatory, more collaborative, less ironic teen who exists with a wealth of information so broad that it feels that everything’s been written in the world and everything’s been said.”

He adds that teens now find their individuality in remaking the world, not reflecting it – in accepting things “not as they are, but as each of these teens redo them in their own way”.

This suggests teens are now different people to who they have been over the past decade. As such, they can therefore no longer be Millennials. What’s more, Millennials are now all grown up. Depending on what age criteria you use, they are 18 at their very youngest – at the very end of the teen spectrum. This means the era of Millennial teen marketing is effectively over.

Teen targets

Then, if we examine how Brotons describes his teen targets, is he really talking about Millennials?

“Participatory” and “collaborative” are indeed Millennial traits. But “remaking the world not reflecting it” isn’t central to their general personality – Millennial teens were more focused on fitting in than standing out. The same goes for “accepting things not as they are, but redoing them in their own way” – or rfrsh-ing them.

If you look at the ad itself (and watch an English translated version here), the main emphasis seems to be that the teen male here is determined to go his own way. On being lectured by an older man that the traditional road to success lies in selling Sprite rather than drinking it, our teen simply downs his drink, burps and wanders off, seemingly disinterested. This could also indicate that he is eschewing capitalism and the greed culture associated with it.

SPRITE “AMBITION” from Labhouse on Vimeo.

This mystery teenager, apparently not interested in fitting in with the social matrix, and focused on following his own agenda, doesn’t appear to be connecting with Millennials, but rather a different generation. So what new demographic, what new consumer is this Sprite ad targeting?

Meet the Centennials

Well, meet the Centennials – those born post 1997. In fact, don’t just meet them, but rather take some time to get to know them a little better, because they’re here now and won’t be going away any time soon. In fact, already a quarter of the US population and a third globally, they will be the next big thing as far as brands are concerned and are rapidly accumulating spending power.

So let’s get acquainted.

Centennials are growing up with a less idealistic and more pragmatic edge than Millennials. They’re facing situations that Millennials didn’t have to deal with until early adulthood, and, as a result, they are growing up far more savvy, in graver times when choices are limited and success is harder to come by.

“Marketing with the Millennial mindset simply isn’t going to cut it with this new generational group”

Like Millennials, credit is given to authenticity. But they possess a more mature mindset than we’ve seen with teens of the past. Centennials are taking their drive for uniqueness and individual identity to a place far beyond other generations at this age.

Three core values drive Centennials:

Openness: The latest Futures Company TRU Youth Monitor shows that 87% of Centennials would prefer to live in a society where people accept different beliefs and values.

Resilience: Centennials learn that hard work and grit are the keys to success in today’s world – 87% agree that they enjoy and celebrate life despite its many obstacles and challenges.

Realism: Centennials have grounded, realistic expectations – 70% agree that it’s really hard to get ahead in life without a degree.

Marketing with the Millennial mindset simply isn’t going to cut it with this new generational group. So now’s the time to decide how your brand is going to appeal to them.

J. Walker Smith

Executive chairman, Kantar Futures


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