Speaking at the Businessworld Marketing Whitebook 2014-15 launch, Agnello Dias tapped into the true essence of the youth when he spoke about the art of storytelling to different generations.
“Is youth marketing truly a rocket science branch of conventional marketing? The answer is no. Youth is a country; everyone who is outside wants to get in and everyone inside wants to get out,” Dias said. Youngness has been around since the beginning of time, churning, bubbling as a subculture. He explained that the problem with us is we don’t know what to call it, so we try labelling it as generation gap, anti-establishment, rebel without a cause, rebel without a pause, brat pack, etc.
All of these form a nomenclature created and imposed by the adult, non-young world, to a generation that cannot identify the need to be labelled as anything in the first place, remarked Dias. While the adult world persists in its obstinate belief that if we can’t beat them or join them, we will slot them. All these labels mean nothing to the youth. “Ask them if they are anti-establishment, you will be laughed out of the room. To them they are the establishment. A young boy once told me that if you are really cool, the last thing you will say is you are cool,” said Dias.
Irrespective of what we must do, there is something we all can avoid doing. No religion, no sub-culture ever had a launch program. Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism were born after many years. But looking closer at our space, denim jeans were born out of convenience, rock and roll and rap were born out of discontent, and more recently Facebook was born out of the need for social interaction,” he explained. Even torn jeans trend was not launched by any brand, it was latched onto by them. The same applies to unkempt hairdos, backpacks, abbreviated online English, internet memes, tattoos, none of which were an official launch or had a manifesto. All of this points to a simple truth. Youth is not interested in young people or things, they are interested in interesting things. We often mistake what our target audience is for what they would like to see. The operative word is ‘boring’, as the young people would like to see anything interesting, young or not, as long as it’s not boring, Dias further explained.
Anna Hazare, Gangnam style, the movie Queen, etc. are examples. In an adult serious world there are dogmas. He gave examples of the American Charter of Independence, Quit India Movement, Marxism, etc. All are set in stone, sometimes have to be imposed as opposed to being accepted out of choice. These also end up alienating the youth each passing day according to Dias. What should advertisers and marketers do? “I think the best thing we can do is supply the raw material and let the youth stumble upon their own interpretation and ideology. If it’s a finished product or too raw to start, they are not interested. We are raw material providers because true ideologies are not dictated, they are planted at least in fertile minds,” Dias elaborated. “Hummable music, a sticky phrase, quirky vision, all we can do is create circumstances under which they are more likely to run into an accidental discovery of their own, so let us be catalysts of serendipity,” he further stated. “Spontaneity is the key; if you can fake it, you can make it,” quipped Dias. Explaining the undercurrent bubbling in the youth of modern day India, he said that for many centuries now in our country, desire has been associated with guilt. To want something more, or dream higher are regularly frowned upon. Today things are changing and ambition is not a sin, he said. Not only is it alright to want something beyond one’s potential, there is mounting evidence that it can actually be pulled off. “The increasing realisation that it is possible to pack into this life what was conventionally left for the future generations to achieve is the pure unleaded fuel that is powering this mantra for ambition,” commented Dias. This is the new world order.