Why a good tug at the heartstrings doesn’t hurt

Why a good tug at the heartstrings doesn’t hurt

They have been described as tech savvy, demanding, spoilt, selfish, individualistic, and in pursuit of immediate gratification.

According to Huffington Post, they have high expectations for their life, they believe they are special, and are wildly ambitious.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this is Gen Y.

Although it is widely believed that Gen Y are the easiest generation to reach, with most spending up to seven hours a day on social media, unfortunately it’s not that simple.

With thousands of brands, organisations, and media outlets also competing for their attention, it takes something a little bit different to get through.

Whilst there are no hard and fast rules on how best to engage a highly connected and fickle group of people, it is commonly thought that an effective campaign should centre around the needs of Gen Y, provide an instant reward, focus on visual branding, and have a clear call to action.

However with hundreds of messages regularly pushed out to these tech savvy individuals, you cannot ignore the importance of:

  • Creativity
  • A good story
  • A real issue
  • Emotional appeal

A recent example of a company, that has pioneered their own approach to reaching Gen Y is the Mexican-food chain Chipotle.

Chipotle recently released a short animation called The Scarecrow, which creatively builds awareness of the unsustainable and unethical methods that are pervasive in the agricultural industry, whilst promoting their new app-based game.

What is different and unique about this campaign is that they solely rely on the emotive power of the narrative to engage Gen Y and promote their ‘Food with Integrity’ movement.

Unlike many of the other brands that vie for Gen Y’s attention by focusing on how a product or service will improve their lifestyle and give them a greater sense of ease, Chipotle tells the inspirational story of a worn-out scarecrow. This scarecrow is saddened by the cruelty and unsustainability of factory farming, and takes to his vegetable garden to ‘cultivate a better world’.

Although some are skeptical of the lack of branding in their campaign, Mark Crumpacker, CMO at Chipotle, argues that Gen Y are “skeptical of brands that perpetuate themselves”. With over seven million views, and multiple shares on social media, there must be some substance behind his theory.

What can we learn from this?

Whilst there are many strategies and assumptions on how to engage Gen Y, it is important not to underestimate their capacity for empathy and compassion, whilst recognising the value of a broader story and meta-narrative.