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Young Blood: Under the Influence

For many brands, influencer marketing is now an integral part of their marketing mix. It’s moved from formally being treated with timidity by some brands and gung-ho by others, to a place where it’s undisputed power and worth is now accepted. 

AUTHENTICITY: Again, but with meaning…

These days it’s rare we receive a brief where the word ‘authentic’ isn’t featured.  Yet, due to heavy usage, we’re in danger of taking something really important and making it totally meaningless.

This need for authenticity drives our work as marketers. In this beautiful but complicated world we live in, it’s natural to look for short cuts and generalisations, but through this we’re in danger of missing the point or diluting it to such an extent that we are no longer relevant. Research and insights are only good if they are real and actionable.

Young Blood: Exploring Modern British Youth Culture

In a world of cartoon character pen-portraits, we must strive to put a real face on a demographic. Nowhere is this more important than the switched-on, and sometimes elusive, youth audience.

Our Young Blood research and series was born from our continued desire to understand the hopes, fears and realities of 13-25 year olds growing up in today’s Britain. We’ve all heard the stats, but it wasn’t enough for us and clients including Converse, Red Bull, Airbnb and YouTube to know that ‘they spend four hours a day on their phones’. We wanted to know what they were doing, and most importantly why?

A Real Voice for a Misrepresented Generation?

This audience also gets a really hard time in the media. We were determined to give them a platform for their voice, not ours. As well as over 7,000 hours of video diaries, we worked with influencers within different cultural and physical scenes including photographer Vicky Grout, poet James Massiah and cultural entrepreneur Bejay Mulenga.

It was imperative that they were authentic. This means they needed high levels of trust with their audience, and could not only be a mouthpiece for their generation, but to them as well.

Finding the right voice for your brand

A great example is Jessica Skye, a Nike brand ambassador, who we also worked with for Young Blood. Skye lives and breathes health and wellness, with years of experience and plenty of regular social updates to reflect this. But she isn’t just a brand ambassador; she’s a real person too. She’s not engaged in a permanent downward dog – she also spends time DJing and snowboarding – and documents this on her social channels too. This gives her audience a slice of who she is outside of the health world, making her someone that audiences can connect with. She’s shown her audience she’s multifaceted, and by doing so she becomes a trustworthy, relevant, and authentic influencer.

Young & Laced

Converse – Young & Laced

TRUE COLLABORATION AND CO-CREATION

Finding people from certain scenes who have these high levels of trust, and authentic relationships, is the first hurdle. But things get more complicated when trying to weave in a brand message whilst retaining this all-important authenticity.

Amplify worked with Converse to conceive, develop and deliver their ‘Young & Laced’ platform to help them break into the young, more urban audience; an audience who, our research showed, had a lot of love for the brand but until that point hadn’t been a key focus.

Gaining traction with a new audience is never easy, especially one as hard to target as the young. From experience, we knew that we couldn’t just barge in with a piece of content and a couple of big influencers – we needed to put the time in. Strategically, we also knew we needed to have a good hard think about how Converse as a brand could be authentic in this space. What were they adding to this scene? How could they become a positive (not parasitical) part of this culture?

A TWOWAY RELATIONSHIP

We found a group of young, creative men who would commit to a year-long mentoring scheme; something the brand could pour time, support and expertise into. In return, these influencers would give us insights, credibility and a much-needed channel into Converse’s target audience. 

By letting go of the brand reins and handing them over to their target audience, Converse’s brave decision paid off. Young & Laced hit the spot with their target audience, so Converse used the project as a springboard for their future marketing campaigns. ‘Cons Project’, a 10-week series of community workshops to inspire creativity, launched in 2015. It was followed up with the global  ‘Made by You’, a through-the-line campaign which handed creative direction over to the wearers, allowing them to champion the individuality that the Converse brand is so famous for.

CONCLUSION

AN OBSESSION, OR A NECESSITY?

The idea of ‘obsessing’ over your audience, influencers and campaign might seem excessive - even time consuming - but it’s imperative to nail the authenticity. You’re working with real people, who are being watched in real time, by real audiences who are super savvy. And, to top it off, it’s all happening in a world that is completely transparent, where any brand messaging that feels inauthentic will be immediately called out and could backfire spectacularly if you’ve not hit the mark.

KEY QUESTIONS

Are you as a brand or marketer being authentic? Are you putting the time in? Are you giving as well as taking? Are you looking for insights outside of the room? Are you choosing your influencers merely because of their following and not thinking about their grounding and relevance in a scene?

When it’s done well, influence and authenticity works. It’s not the easiest route to travel, as Shane Smith, CEO of VICE astutely put it:"Young people have been marketed to since they were babies, they develop this incredibly sophisticated bullshit detector, and the only way to circumvent the bullshit detector is to not bullshit.”

Agency: Young & Laced, Amplify

22 million
social reach
22
creative projects in 2 years
Converse - Made By You
Made For You - Converse
Converse - CONS Project LDN
CONS Project LDN - Converse

Converse, Made by You

Converse, CONS Project LDN

About the author

Bexy Cameron, Amplify, Head of Insight & Content

Bexy is a creative director, filmmaker and academic who also joins us as the Head of Insight + Content at Amplify. Bexy’s career highlights include writing and conceptualising a Channel 4 TV series, being Head of Creative Strategy of MySpace during its heyday and producing and directing the documentary FanCulture. She directed Amplify’s new documentary, Young Blood: Exploring British Youth Culture.

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