The Greatest (at least in size) Generation

If you are millennial (Pew Research describes a millennial as someone born between 1977 and 1992), then you know what you’re watching. But for the entertainment industry, you’re an enigma and there is now a cottage industry dedicated to trying to predict your wants and desires. To this end, new outlets for user-generated and original content – YouTube being at the forefront – are cranking out hours of on-the-cheap programming that is racking up millions of views and millions of dollars for its new self-made stars. Meanwhile, big players like Disney are using their online outlets like ABC Digital to develop short form shows for millennial and YouTube and other alternative outlet-established stars, to slice themselves a piece of the pie. But new media and OTT programming are hardly the only way to engage what is now the largest demographic on Earth.

First, yes, established product placement agencies are getting scripts for shows on networks like ABC Digital for programs starring people from YouTube, etc. But here at HERO we’re also still getting over 200 feature film scripts a year (virtually all read by yours truly, which means yours truly knows the endings to just about every movie he sees, which means yours truly deserves a spoiler bonus!). Should we assume that placement in those films is less valuable to the clients we represent who are looking for millennial eyeballs? It turns out the answer is a resounding, nope!

A new report from Movio, a company that does data analytics and marketing campaigns for the film industry, delivered some great news for entertainment marketing companies with long histories with the film studios; millennials are devoted movie goers! They actually account for 29% of box office spending, and go to the movies about half a dozen times a year and a third of them are members of a theater chain loyalty program. Half of them will hit a film during its opening weekend. All in, the millennials bought 13 million tickets in 2015!

While last weekend’s record breaking $135 million opening of Finding Dory provided ample proof of this mega-demo’s power, don’t be fooled; happy go lucky, Ellen-voiced adorableness isn’t necessarily the best way to grab them. Those 20-25 year olds love them some horror films, urban dramas and sophomoric comedies just as much as animated films.

So, while placements in homemade YouTube series can be obtained (often with a sizable check to the producer/talent), the tried and true methods of brand integration (product placement in film and TV) may still be the best, most cost-effective, influential and dignified way to expose brands to millennials.