Last year’s marketing is this year’s design

a perspective from a millennial that spends more money than he should.


Marketing (n): the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

It’s obvious that the way companies have appealed to consumers has changed drastically in the past 50 years. As a millennial myself, sometimes it’s hard to take past marketing campaigns seriously. While the objective behind marketing has stayed the same, so many things have changed between my parents era and my own, that they are almost not even comparable.

In the mid-late 20th century, new mediums allowed for ads to be exposed in ways that had never been possible. The average american family suddenly had radios and TVs that allowed companies to shove their products into people’s minds like never before. Some ads were excellent, others were…just sad. This is when I reference Mr. Whipple and his goddamn Charmin.

But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that the marketing of my parents age was essentially a sales pitch. A man walked on camera, talked about the perks of a certain product and then told you the price. At the time, it worked fine. Some even worked extremely well. DDB had an extremely successful run with their print ad series for VW where they poked fun at this ad style, but it was still essentially a sales pitch.

While marketing has changed, the objective is still the same: companies outsource marketers, designers, branders, influencers, etc. to make money. They hope by bringing in different people will different skill sets, they can expand their market, appeal to more people and make more money. As the years progressed, the internet, smartphones and constant connectivity have become a commonplace for a completely different style of appealing to consumers.

That’s where I come in.

I can’t think of the last time I bought something and didn’t learn about it online. I feel like I’m a part of the majority of people my age that spend money (upwards to $200 billion) almost exclusively online. And with online shopping comes a completely different style of marketing. Whether it’s good for me or not, I’ve almost always got a screen in front of me. I have virtually unlimited resources to see new things, so that’s what I always seek out. New, cool looking things are what attract my attention.

I’m not a complicated man. And most of us aren’t. Millennials are easily entertained by looking at cool stuff and completing simple tasks. As companies continue to learn this, the way that companies make money off of their consumers is changing with it. Good ads aren’t sales pitches anymore. They’re works of art, in-app games, short films, interactive media and tons of other things.

Earlier this year, Honda partnered with W+K London to debut Honda’s new Civic type R and took complete advantage of millennials obsession with interactivity. W+K London produced two videos that showed the two sides of the new Civic. When watching the video regularly, the video shows a suburban dad picking up his daughters from school with a traditional civic. Whenever the “r” key is pressed on the keyboard, though, an alternate story shows a high-intensity car chase with the powerful Civic type R. The video is fantastically produced, the “r” function works flawlessly, and most importantly, it manages to make a Civic look amazing. After watching the video (probably upwards of 10 times), all I can think about is “damn, I want a Honda.”

Now that companies know marketing is changing, everyone’s stressing to find digital editors, social media directors, designers and other “modern thinkers” to get on board. Sometimes it works great, but other times it ends up with a half-baked facebook page that no one pays attention to. In many ways, bad digital media can be worse than no digital media. It’s extremely difficult to keep a millennial’s attention. More important than anything is making sure that any digital campaign is well produced and properly designed/branded.

I couldn’t begin to count how my many times I’ve made a last-minute purchase because of the way it was advertised online. Of course, those “advertisements” were never banner ads at the top of a webpage. Creative new media is what continues to grab the of millennials as a way to show off products. As the years progress, more companies are learning that design has a larger influence on consumers than ever before. In the future it will only be more important to look to design teams to take company brands to the next level.

I wrote this article as a Media Strategist Intern at BASIC, a San Diego-based brand strategy and digital design agency that helps brands deliver better experiences to their consumers. To check out the original post, check it out here.