5 Brands Successfully Engaging Gen Z & Millennial Audiences With Branded Podcasts
In my last article — How Brands Can Engage Youth Audiences With Their Own Branded Podcast— I explored how the youth of today (Gen Z) are more resistant and less receptive to advertising than ever before.
I explored how we look for brands that offer us something unique and meaningful. We value brands that lean into our unique strengths and fit seamlessly into our lives, provide a utility, or solve a problem.
Blatant advertising of any kind turns us off completely. Therefore, companies must think of content as an opportunity for their brand’s voice to fit in and add value to our lives — and podcasts have a unique ability to do this.
Digital audio advertising is set to pick up ‘significantly’ this year, with 75% of advertisers to up podcast ad spend in 2019¹. However, as the advertising market becomes increasingly competitive, one of the most effective ways for brands to win over this plugged-in generation is with original podcasts.
What is a branded podcast?
A branded podcast is your intimate stage outside of traditional media. It’s an opportunity for you to discuss topics that matter to your audience and a way to unify your brand with a personality consumers can engage with.
Generation Z is open to new thoughts and ideas, and this openness is the perfect opportunity for brands to step in and create real, lasting impact.
However, exploiting podcasts as a way to market your product will fail.
The word ‘branded podcast’ can sound dubious and be confused for ‘thinly-veiled advertisement’. It’s important to remember that at the heart of your podcast, you are producing a show for your listeners. A light brand presence should support and enable your show, but should not be the core focus.
Your podcast shouldn’t be directly about your products — or even your brand. Instead, your brand should be woven seamlessly into the overall narrative.
Successful branded podcasts make the effort to recognise our passions, interests, and values, in order to hep us cultivate our identities — whilst keeping the message close to their own beliefs and value proposition.
The Top 5 Branded Podcasts for Youth Audiences
Over this next chapter, I’m going to share 5 of the top brand original podcasts aimed at youth audiences — and break down why they’re effective.
We see lots of movies and TV shows where hackers can infiltrate our lives with just a few keystrokes. But is it real? Hackable? is here to find out. Malicious cat photos, sketchy Wi-Fi networks, rogue rentals, all-knowing webcams — those are just a few topics tackled in Hackable?, where hackers shed light on just how secure we really are.
‘Hackable?’, by McAfee — one of the leading cyber security solutions — is everything a brand original podcast should be.
Each episode has a signature humorous approach, with the knowledgeable hosts, Geoff and Brian, exploring obscure risks from hackable Pet Cameras and doggy treat dispensers to the more conceivable threats of our generation, including RATS (Remote Administration Tools) being disguised as everyday computer files, hacking into our webcams and stealing our passwords.
Despite the tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted narrative which feeds into our love of Black Mirror-esque conspiracy and desire for entertainment, ‘Hackable?’, by McAfee, shows that our ‘always-on’ and ultra-connected society is at greater security risk than ever before — and subconsciously makes every listener feel they must install McAfee’s virus protection and Internet Security software.
Nat O’Leary has been hanging out with some incredible females that inspire our generation, to get to know them on a new, deeper level, ‘behind closed doors’. Removing the barrier of social media and getting real, they discuss issues big and small — with no subject off limits.
PrettyLittleThing is a UK-based fashion retailer, aimed at the 14–24 year old (Gen Z) female market — infamously labelled a generation “consumed by social media, fuelled by likes and driven by social popularity”.
‘Behind Closed Doors’ host – Nat O’Leary – invites influential female influencers and creators to have candid discussions on topics from ranging social media, to mental health and relationships. The chemistry between the host and the guests is palpable and humanises the PLT brand.
PLT’s podcast shines a spotlight on one of the biggest secrets to winning over Gen Z — connecting with them as unique individuals. It’s about making and maintaining personal connections and providing superior value every step of the consumer journey. Gen Z are not simply looking to ‘buy’ from brands they like, they look to brands they trust for guidance, input and support.
Bobby Finger invites guests — fans, critics, friends — to gab about the most-discussed Netflix titles of the moment. Ranging from meme-y chatter to in-depth analysis, this is the entire range of popular conversation around the newest Netflix titles distilled into a half-hour show.
You can reasonably understand the opportunity for Netflix here.
Television, movie, and pop-culture podcasts are vibrant segments of the podcast eco-system. TV podcasts, in particular, have over the years become meaningful parts of the cultural economy, with the ability to deepen and sustain the life of a show far beyond its actual run time².
Entertainment platforms and more generally, marketeers, strive to earn a greater share of their customer’s lives. In ‘I’m Obsessed With This’, Bobby Ringer feeds our addiction for on-demand entertainment — even when we’re away from our screen — and keeps the Netflix brand at the forefront of entertainment both visually, and increasingly: audibly.
As a follow up to his book of the same name, Daymond John (star of ABC’s Shark Tank, Founder & CEO of FUBU) conducts candid interviews featuring the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Wendy Williams, Tyler the Creator, Nely Galán, and more. These entrepreneurs, musicians, and athletes share the secrets they use to outperform, outwork, and out-hustle their way to the top — just like he did.
With trendy guests like the ‘king of hustle’ Gary Vaynerchuk and quirky artists like Tyler the Creator, it’s clear that ZipRecruiter has it’s eye on engaging the generation poised to become “the most entrepreneurial generation ever”³.
ZipRecruiter has done a few things well here.
Firstly, they’ve spring-boarded their podcast from the successful book ‘Rise And Grind’ by Daymond John, the entrepreneur who hailed from the gritty New York neighbourhood of Queens and went on to become, in the words of Barack Obama, “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time”.
Secondly, the majority of Generation Z (expected to make up 40% of the global workforce by 2020⁴) grew up in times of global economic stress⁵, so ZipRecruiter avoids sugar-coating the job market and instead ‘keeps it real’, offering a refreshingly honest perspective on what it takes to succeed today.
Lastly, ZipRecruiter empower listeners to consider several different paths: artistry, athleticism, entrepreneurship and more — even if that means we may not have a need for their job platform. The last thing Gen Z wants is to be ‘put in a box’. We will never love your brand without trust, which must be earned.
The only critique I would offer to ZipRecruiter is that their podcast could be perceived as over-Americanised. With a global job marketplace and audience, there is a risk their podcast may feel out-of-touch to the rest of the world.
Many people view parties as places to dance or to find someone to hook up with. They are, but sometimes they’re a whole lot more. On Nightclubbing, Red Bull tells the story of nightclubs that have transcended their four walls, through the voices of the owners, DJs, doormen and regulars who spent countless nights inside them.
With their adrenaline-driven and unconventional approach to marketing, Red Bull has conquered the energy drinks market (expected to reach $83.4b by 2024⁶), selling 6.3 billion cans in 171 countries last year. It is the world’s biggest-selling energy drink — with a 43 percent market share in the U.S.⁷.
But there’s a bigger market out there that Red Bull is after. The Global Alcoholic beverages market is expected to reach $1864.2b by 2026⁸.
One of the most popular drinks among young people is the infamous Vodka Red Bull — the drink of choice for staying up late and dancing all night with friends. With Red Bull’s original podcast series, ‘Nightclubbing’, they strive to further develop the attachment between clubbing, and the Red Bull brand.
Red Bull isn’t just selling energy drinks; they’re painting a picture of an enjoyable night out with friends, and using their brand as the brush.
About The Author
Rob Knowles — the 21-year-old founder at Podcasted, is passionate about connecting his love of podcasts and audio experiences with his interest in marketing to youth audiences. He is currently working on tailoring original podcasts for brands and helping them realise the potential of audio advertising. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.