Generational mix-up? Bloomberg Businessweek campaign causes a stir

Posted On June 20, 2013

The first rule of advertising is to know your target audience. The second rule should be a no-brainer:  don’t actively offend them. Somewhere on the way to being creative Bloomberg Businessweek advertisers seem to have forgotten rule number two.

In a “funny if it didn’t happen to you” subscription campaign, the Bloomberg affiliate encourages parents, friends and family members of Millennials to send the young workforce a pithy e-card and a 12-month subscription to Businessweek. Problem is, the e-cards appeared more pithy to the givers than to the intended recipients.

What I find particularly odd about this campaign is that the website also features a link to a Businessweek article that explains how the rough economy has made more Millennials return to their parents’ homes. So they’ve done their home work. If the reporting says “it’s tough out there for a kid” why construct an ad campaign that says “get with the program already?”

This campaign is further undermined by the lack of attention to rule number one. While it may have targeted the pocketbooks of the word-of-mouth influencers, the campaign was attempting to gain new customers in the form of Millennials – a generation raised on effusive praise and idealistic views. A sarcastic blow delivered by friends and family with the help of a magazine seems an odd way to win friends and influence people. Go-getter Millennials – the ones more likely to subscribe to Bloomberg Businessweek – affected by the recession aren’t likely to find the humor in the campaign, and those that really need the tough love?  Well, they aren’t as likely to be offended…or motivated.

Categories: Advertising, Generations, Recession Economy