Why positive digital campaigns deliver value to youth audiences & 3 best practice examples

Since the dawn of time, teenagers have had it pretty rough.

Everything is changing, everyone annoys them and they are just trying to desperately figure out who they are and how that fits into the big wide world. The pressure that rests on most teens shoulders doesn’t stop there either, what they look like, who their friends are, parental pressure, whether their crush notices them, how their grades are and whether or not they can land a decent job when they leave school are just a few from their burden bucket.

So take a step back from all of this, and think about your role as a digital marketer, targeting young people, in all of this? Do you work for a teen brand? Are you a teen publisher? It doesn’t really matter who you are in the mix of communication with teenagers, because these young people are literally the face of tomorrow and they WILL shape our world whether you like it or not. So why not deliver them true value through your various digital communications?

Let’s start with covering off what they’re doing, and then look at a few brands doing some really great things in the youth space.

Lay of the land:

  • It’s no secret that our teens are slowly inching away from Facebook and investing their time in places like Kik (kik.com), Snapchat (www.snapchat.com/) and Instagram (instagram.com/) – notice what they all share in common? They are all places their parents aren’t
  • Many care about their smartphone MORE than their family – sad but true – teen girls in particular
  • Teens are increasingly favouring their ‘online presence’ more than their offline one as it tends to show them in a more favourable light
  • Both girls AND boys care about how they are perceived in terms of weight and fitness, often going to extremes to achieve the ‘look’
  • Experimentation is big on the agenda, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll right? These decisions weigh heavy on them and there is a lot of peer pressure
  • Getting a clear picture of exactly what they want to do when they leave school and the marks they are going to need to get there creates huge amounts of stress for young people across this blue and green globe of ours
  • Job stability and buying a house IS something that young people care about, they aren’t silly, and they know the word ‘stability’ fell out of the employment vocab some time back. They have indeed connected the dots about what this means for how they will financially ever afford a house (this one in particular blows my mind – I am 24 and can’t bring myself to think about buying a house because its mind bogglingly expensive!)

So, what does this mean for you and your digital comms with youth?

Well it means anything you can do to help them positively tackle ANY of these daunting tasks will create a connection that is simply valuable in all senses of the word.

Here are a few examples that have stuck in my head because they really speak to young people and their troubles. Some are not recent, because lets be real, digital campaigns that really support and uplift teens can be a bit thin on the ground at the best of times.

1. The ME Project

This one is not recent, but upon seeing it struck me as a really great piece of digital work with a solid teen insight. School kids generally have NO idea what they are going to do when they leave school – and it scares them, a lot.

This campaign by 303 (Now 303LOWE) helped create some direction about what teens wanted to do when they  leave school, with the specific push for University of Edith Cowan University at the heart of it all.

This was done by engaging school-age users through a fully interactive website  in which they are asked to post images that they find inspiring. The users are encouraged to select images such as their bedroom, study area or favourite place that truly reflect their tastes and hobbies.

Once the images are uploaded, the users can then choose to tag relevant items within the images themselves, or leave that up to ECU to tag. ECU then provide possible course matches to the tagged items, giving potential students insights into career options they may not have been aware of.

Simple, smart and a campaign that really creates a strong connection between young people and their career path worries in a positive and relevant way.

2. The Chance – Nike

Nike generated a campaign called ‘The Chance’ with the purpose of inspiring young footballers across the globe and enables those same players to maximise their potential. (Obviously selling shoes was also on the agenda).

The campaign was based around the insight that if you are a football head and desperately want to turn pro, but have turned 16 and not signed to a club – you are basically finished before you even started. These young people continue to slip through the net, not because they aren’t talented, but because of their sheer volume of young people trying to get their lucky break into the sport.

So Nike created a Facebook App that turned social networks into a worldwide scouting platform. With over 150,000 aspirational young footballers engaging with it from over 55 countries. The top 100 were rewarded with a place in the ‘Chance Final’ at the hallowed home of FC Barcelona. From here 16 players rose from obscurity bang into the professional playing field.

Read the case study here

Really lovely campaign that helped young footballers who felt like their ship had effectively ‘sailed’ renew their faith in their talent and maximise their potential. By focusing on the positive, this campaign really generated some uplifting content through a great digital campaign.

3. ‘Legend’ Drink Driving Campaign

This little beauty came out of New Zealand a while back, but is well worth the mention. This campaign by NZ Transport Agency grabbed onto the insight that 82% of drink-driving crashes involve male drivers under the age of 24 years. A further 38% of the young drivers are Maori.

The campaign took the approach that are more often than not, good people who have made bad choices – lack of planning and the numerous times they have successfully gotten home whilst under the influence of alcohol which creates a false sense of security of not being caught.

Young males are not big on telling their mates NOT to do something, and this campaign spoke to that insight by highlighting that yes – it’s hard to tell a mate not to drive, but having the guts to do so is worth it.

Check out the awesome little vid, worth a watch.

Another great campaign that helped young people tackle an issue that they often struggle with, speaking out. The viral cleverly does this in a way that really SPEAKS to the target audience and positively displaying a process that all young people go through when weighing up whether to tell their mates to be safe.

As digital marketers, creating campaigns that focuses on the positives and helping to guide them through a bit of a muddled journey is never easy. Thinking out of the box and creatively packaging up some valuable guidance or a solution to their numerous pressures will not just help them, but it will create a solid connection to push sales and brand loyalty that is more effective and long-term then just a sell, sell, sell approach.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear about Zuni’s own positive youth focused campaign as part of the Young and Well CRC (link).

Would love to hear of your favourite youth inspired campaigns so feel free to share with us.



  1. David

    I’m not personally involved but UWS has created PANGO, a social networking site that aims to encourage an environment that brings down the barriers between school and uni. I would say that ThemePorject is probably a better idea but the aim is perhaps similar in bridging the divide between the person and their environment in order to bring about a familiarity with uni.
    Good content marketing approaches.

    • elise.cooper

      Nice one David, will be sure to check PANGO out and see what it is all about! The ME Project has been a favourite of mine for a long time, it really hits the nail on the head in terms of using a strong insight and turning it into something that is actually useful for young people at a time where indecision reigns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Notify me when others comment

Stay up to date

Sign up to receive fortnightly updates on all the latest changes in our crazy digital world

Your email will never be shared