The Magic of the Millennial

Posted 27 November 2017.

​By Harriette Hanson, Senior Account Manager, J. Walter Thompson

​Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000), and specifically millennials in the workforce, are an ongoing topic of contention. Being labelled a ‘millennial’ has earned negative connotations, with the stereotype of being entitled, shallow and self-seeking. A millennial myself, I’m puzzled, because when I look around our agency, in which many of the staff fall into this group, I can’t help but notice my millennial peers are quite the opposite.

The younger members of our particular agency, and the wider advertising and communications industry, in all honesty, are troopers at work. Granted, we’re at a unique time in our lives where we can be a little bit decadent and can focus on ourselves: we’re earning a steady income and many of us are yet to experience life’s major responsibilities of mortgages or children. Because of this, we can head into the office early (no school drop-offs for us!), we can sustain a 12-hour day and we can stay late without the guilt of not being home to cook dinner for the tribe.

Although the ‘millennial’ label may carry negative associations, ironically, in our industry, it is also a term that crops up increasingly in campaign and brand strategies for clients. For the very reasons I’ve outlined above, millennials are a desirable audience for businesses because of their disposable income and limited responsibilities; but their rapidly shifting brand loyalties and wariness of being ‘sold’ to can make them tricky to engage.

That’s where the new advertising and communications generation has so much to offer. What we can bring to the table at a time when so many advertisers are chasing the millennial market, is of great benefit. The Commercial Communications Council has recognised the importance of encouraging the next generation, and in doing so future-proofing the industry, and established the First Five Rungs (FFR) team, which I am proud to chair.

The FFR comprises 10 millennial members, with the aim of inspiring and engaging young members of the advertising and communications industry in the first five years of their new career. We’re here for them because we remember exactly how it felt to step into our first advertising agency and to be so out of our depth in that hectic new world. From ‘Newbie Packs’ to networking events featuring inspirational speakers, the FFR aims to ensure new graduates feel welcomed, inspired and motivated for a long career. We’re also actively involved in the recruitment process, alongside the Comms Council, to ensure a high calibre of newbies entering the industry.

Agencies and clients benefit from hiring millennial talent as they bring a fresh perspective to their work and clients’ businesses. For clients, having an agency team with millennials in the mix is akin to having insider information. Brands today often struggle to understand younger audiences and to target them correctly – our generation is that audience, so who better to help than them? The new generation of agency faces can tap into personal insights, help to craft an authentic and engaging voice for the brand and act as the filters of this audience. After all, they know themselves better than anyone else.

As we prepare for 2018, the FFR will increase its work alongside those new to the industry and will put all those who turned the term “millennial” into a negative word to shame, as we continue to show the value of young minds in the industry and future-proof “ad-land” by supporting the next generation.