I've got a feeling...

This Superbowl ad – from New York Life Insurance, no less – made my day. It just hits a nerve with me, presenting the concept of Love as manifested (universally) in concrete action, rather than an abstract, amorphous topic for poetry that is, not surprisingly, different for each person. The clean, direct script, the powerful visuals, and the message itself come together in a way that would have me as a customer, were I in the market: Get things done for the people you love. That’s how they’ll know.

I posted it on Facebook, and a friend disagreed – saying he found this, and most of the evening’s ads, “boring and unimaginative” lectures promoting an abstract, high-level philosophy rather than a specific product or service.

He’s right, but there’s a logic to this trend…

Over the past year or two, more and more advertisers and marketers have leveraged this tone and content in their mainstream campaigns for one reason: Millennials. These consumers and businesspeople in their mid-twenties and thirties – the largest demographic making economies work today – are famously not affected by the hard sell or being told, from above, what to do. They want to feel like their purchasing decisions (and employment) are for something bigger. Various studies find that, incredibly, anywhere between 65% and 88% of Millennials are willing to take a lower salary at work if they believe that their job translates to real meaning and potential to do good. I’m a Gen-Xer, and this sure wasn’t our generation's mind-set…in the 90s and 00s, we were there for the salary, the potential for promotions, and the dream of stock options. We took some pretty shallow jobs, even when we had a choice.

But whether you are marketing beer, cars, insurance, or an app, there’s a critical Millennial audience out there waiting to hear not about your product or service’s features and descriptions at any level of detail… they want the vibe. Depth. Consequence.

And for better or for worse, that’s the assignment – and the requirement for artistry you’ll need in today’s storytelling for business.

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