Whatevs… A guide to marketing to teenagers

Henry Adams

Since Life Magazine invented teenagers in 1944, it’s become a tradition that brands fail to reflect and connect with “teenage experiences”.

Since Life Magazine invented teenagers in 1944, it’s become a tradition that brands (as well as parents, obvs*) fail to reflect and connect with “teenage experiences”.
Some might argue that this is down to the ever-shifting nature of teenage objects of desire and language. But here’s the thing: there are some elements of being a teenager that will never, ever, ever change. So I would like to propose that different brands tap into these elements for fool proof teenage engagement:

All brands: Arguing with their parents has always been at the core of the teenage ethos. So in this case, I recommend focusing primarily on the rhetorical question, a figure of speech in the form of a question that is solely meant to make a really annoying point. Teenagers will be asked: “Why isn’t there ever anything good to eat/drink/wear/play/listen to in your house?” They’re guaranteed to repeat the question ad nauseam to their parents, who in turn are guaranteed to sigh dispiritedly and eventually give in.

Food brands: Instead of focusing on the deliciousness of your product, focus on the potential for pissing off parents. Highlight the power of heaps of used burger boxes, apple cores, crisp packets, pie crusts and empty tins scattered throughout the house, as well as the ability to wreck the kitchen simply by cooking pasta (holding a competition to encourage teenagers to somehow get sauce on the ceiling is a sure-fire winner). Similarly, any teenager encouraged to drink milk straight from the fridge or leave teeth marks in the cheese will love your brand forever.

Telco brands: Reinforce the idea that their social life is paramount, and if they are forced to miss a party because they have to go to Granny’s on a Friday night then, yes, they might as well be dead. If only they had a top-range SingHub1 phone with all the cool stuff on…

Fashion brands: Just remember that no teenage girl will ever fully happy with her outfit unless she has made her mother scream. (Fainting is better, but screaming will do.) In the same way, reflect on the fact that no teenage boy will ever say to his parents, "Please don’t waste your hard-earned money on those expensive trainers. The cheaper ones will be fine."

I believe such an approach will not only perfectly reflect the teenage experience, but will also result in significantly increased sales. It’s such a win-win, I simply can’t understand why brands can’t see it…

*My own teenage goddaughter who, out of respect for her privacy, I will refer to only as Cordelia, which also happens to be her name (I know; what are the chances!) informs me that ‘obvs’ is ‘totes lame’. “It’s sooooo last season, Auntie Henry.”


Welcome to the World’s Most Hipster Festival

Kaye Blum

I’ve always been passionate about live music and travel, so when the opportunity presents itself to combine both, I’m a very contented Kaye.

I’ve always been passionate about live music and travel, so when the opportunity presents itself to combine both, I’m a very contented Kaye. I’ve just returned from a quick trip through Scandinavia to report on Way Out West, a three-day festival in Sweden with a huge range of international and local talent. Here’s the lowdown: www.tonedeaf.com.au/415678/sweden-hosted-worlds-hipster-festival.htm http://contented.com.sg/welcome-to-the-worlds-most-hipster-festival/

ASK CONTENTED: This week, our advice column hears from a Sad Tweet Dreamer

Henry Adams

Ever since my brand acquired its own Twitter account it’s been nothing but stress, stress, stress, and being ignored.


Dear Contented,

Ever since my brand acquired its own Twitter account it’s been nothing but stress, stress, stress, and being ignored. I ask you: What does my brand have to do to get some attention around here? Do you think I like seeing Nike getting all the attention? And Starbucks? Do you? Do you? I don’t. It hurts. It’s agony. WHY ISN’T IT ALL ABOUT MY BRAND?!?!?!

So, how can I make changes? How can I be big? I want to trend. I want my brand to have at least 80 billion thousand trillion Twitter followers. How? How? How?

Tweet Dreams


Dear Tweet,
We’re very tempted to say it’s just one of those things you put down to experience*. But the good news is that we’ve made a study of how to get attention and, with Twitter being so self-referential, we think one of your best bets is say something controversial about Twitter users. So, for example, if your brand is Moan’s Backache Pills, try something like “Have you seen that latest research shows 89% of Twitter users are prone to lumbago and also have the Alektorophobia gene?” That’ll get tweeted and re-tweeted and re-re-tweeted. When people aren’t too busy worrying their back will seize up any second and they’ll faint at the sight of a spicy wing, of course.
Seriously, though, the most important thing you should do is NOT do something: Do NOT, under any circumstances, be tempted to buy followers or use auto follower systems. It’s a short-sighted shortcut. Buying followers does not equate to or result in engagement or advocacy or anything really worthwhile to your brand. The truth is that leveraging Twitter as a marketing tool simply takes plain, old-fashioned elbow grease. We recommend these 5 steps to put you on the path to tweet success:

#1 Listen and learn

There’s one very easy way to get followers on Twitter (or any other social network, come to think of it). Listen to what your market’s talking about. Learn what they think, say and actively want. Then search for related things (topics, pictures, offers) that you know will interest these people and write good stuff about them and tweet it regularly and enthusiastically.

#2 Talk, talk

There are regularly scheduled Twitter chats on just about everything under the sun. These are essentially chats between users on Twitter which are conducted via a specific, relevant #hashtag. They’re run by everyone from brands to organisations to industries, and if you want to make sure Twitter is successful for your brand, make sure you participate in them. They offer inspiration and a valuable opportunity to showcase your knowledge and insight.

#3 Curate your content

Discovering, gathering, and presenting relevant, high-quality digital content should become a marketing staple for your brand on Twitter. In the social media world, it’s critical to provide engaging content to draw in an audience and keep them engaged, and tweeting is no exception - especially when posting content from other sources, not just your brand.
Pick topics which relate to your brand category and then tweet or retweet them to share them with others. Make it worth your audience’s time. Well-curated content is valuable to the user in terms of information and entertainment, very few people will follow you just because they’re curious about what your brand’s up to. Instead, they’re curious about what your brand has for them. In short, if you’re not providing value, then you’re not curating.

#4 Choose your channels

Nearly every category and interest has a channel on Twitter. So if you’re running the account for Moan’s Backache pills (remember them?), you might follow #backpainsufferers and #lumbagogotyourback. Don’t crash these channels shouting up your brand from the rooftops. Don’t spam them with marketing messages. Imagine you’re all chatting over sweet sherry and a twiglet at a networking event; ask and answer questions, retweet useful tweets and, above all, interact.

#5 Cross link

This probably sounds a tad obvious, but better safe than sorry. So, make sure your Twitter profile is linked from all your social media pages and make sharing super-easy for people . Put the sharing buttons both on the top of the post and on the bottom - these are the places where people make the decision to share. And by all means feel free to ask people to share your content and invite them to follow your posts.

So, Tweet, here’s our two cents’ worth. Now, go get those 80 billion thousand trillion Twitter followers!

Love, Contented
P.S. Do you have a problem to share? Lumbago? Geniophobia? Invisible consumer content? Ask Contented at hello@contented.com.sg