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AWNewYork_OfficialGuide-2017

Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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168 CATALYST "We truly believe that young people want to make a difference. Everyone cares about something—whether it's breast cancer [because your mom survived it] or clean oceans because you're a surfer," DoSomething CEO Aria Finger says. "Young people want to fix" what's wrong in the world. As the organization saw tangible results by turning inac- tion into engagement, Finger decided to launch TMI Strategy as a division of DoSomething. The social-good strategy consultancy monetizes the steady and growing demand from brands to leverage the impact of social consciousness. "Fight for the Users" is painted on the wall in large white letters at the offices of TMI as a daily reminder to the employ- ees of their main mission, and they keep it top of mind as they develop campaigns for clients including Keds, Foot Locker, and Feeding America. Part of the social conscience tool kit is consumer data that helps connect companies with that somewhat elusive target audience: millennials. How do they do it? They tap into young people's desire for social good, according to Finger. While just about everyone has a connection to a certain cause, there are often barriers to entry because people aren't sure exactly how they can help. That's where brands can step in and give young people the tools to take action. And it goes way beyond getting them to just write a check. The most successful branded social campaigns have a posi- tive impact on the world, and by association, on a brand's image. TMI starts by identifying an authentic place for a brand to start. The campaign must feel connected to the company's identity. Then it uses DoSomething's massive amount of data to craft an authentic social-good effort on behalf of that client. This valuable information includes which platforms millennials use to respond to prompts (SMS, email, website portal, etc.) and which other campaigns they have engaged with the most. For example, Microsoft came to TMI because they wanted to generate excitement about computer science and technol- ogy among young people. One of the things that stood out to Finger and her team about the computer science industry was the small percentage of women—especially women of color— currently working in the field. They decided that would be their starting place. "We fielded new research [to find out] how young people thought and talked about computer science, [to determine] how Microsoft could motivate them to dive in," says Finger. TMI then used those insights to create an advocacy tool kit that put the capacity in the hands of the young people 147 "Young people want to fix what's wrong in the world." themselves. They created guides for how to run Hour of Code events and how to generate computer science interest at their schools, developing a communication strategy that met the audience where they were most likely to engage and respond. This included recruiting top YouTube influencers to promote the campaign, as well as reaching out to schools. "It wasn't us providing a service for these underserved young women," Finger says. "It was us going, 'Here's how you demand what you should be getting. We are giving you the power to demand the education that you want," through these guides, which have been used in 50 countries and have been translated into 20 different languages to date. Through these efforts, TMI tripled the reach of Microsoft's coding-related campaigns, resulting in significant increases in participation in Microsoft's computer science education programs around the globe. Finger says the campaign made the tech giant feel more relatable and relevant to a younger demographic. Too often, brands use a megaphone to shout at millen- nials rather than trying to have a conversation with them, Finger says. To reach young people, there must be a respect- ful and open dialogue between the company and its target audience. That is what "fighting for the user" is all about. If brands fight for the user, the user will, in turn, become the brand's ambassador. "Don't talk down to millennials. Share their voice, make it fun and easy," Finger says. "As a brand it's important to say, 'We are relevant, we are inspiring.'" When marketers meet young people where they are most passionate—through social good—it creates an authentic re- lationship and a community based on mutual respect, which can turn into brand loyalty. So as a brand, find what social action fits your identity and let young people fight social good under your name. Then, hopefully you'll find that together you're changing the world. •

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