Follow the Yellow Brick Road

For generations, parents have warned their children not to play with matches.

Now, 20-year-old YouTube rapper and social media mega “star” Jake Paul and his band of boys demonstrate life-threatening, dangerous pyrotechnic stunts daily to their 10.5 million followers.

“He’s establishing himself in the eyes of grown-up America as an embodiment of everything that is wonderful and horrible about Generation Z,” wrote the New York Times.

Photo Courtesy of the New York Times

Vlogger (video blogger) Jake Paul epitomizes his market of Gen Z-ers, those born in the Bush and Obama years. They are the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones. Many don’t remember a time before social media.

A high school dropout, Mr. Paul leveraged his millions of social media followers, along with a well-honed skills for rubber-faced comedy and ambulance-worthy stunts. “We were working with brands and advertisers. I was, like, 17 years old, making more money than my parents!”

STYLE

These tweens and teens of today are primed to become the dominant style influencers of tomorrow. Flush with billions in spending power, they promise untold riches to marketers who can find the master key to their psyche. Because, of course, they grew up shopping online.

“No wonder the race to define, and market to, this demographic juggernaut is on. They are the next big retail disrupter,” explained Women’s Wear Daily. And besides wealth, Generation Z also commands attention through its sheer size.

Young people today feel much more emboldened to express their own sense of style compared to previous generations. But there is also a robust global industry of youth-oriented apparel brands, along with fashion magazines and style blogs dedicated to influencing fashion. The time-honored premise that cooler-than-thou clothes and shoes are, as always, up there with food, water or oxygen as staples for many teenagers.

REACH

To reach Gen Z, it is recommended that you 1) Depict them as diverse (ethnically, sexually, fashionably) 2) Task in images: emojis, symbols, pictures and video 3) Communicate more frequently in shorter bursts of “snackable” content 4) Tap into their entrepreneurial spirit. 5) Collaborate with them … and help them collaborate with others.

“Generation Z tends to be the product of Generation X, a relatively small, jaded generation. They came of age in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam funk of the 1970s, when horizons seemed limited. Those former latchkey kids, who grew up on Nirvana records and slasher movies, have tried to give their children the safe, secure childhood that they never had.

“You see the mommy blogs by Generation X-ers, and safety is a huge concern: the stainless-steel sippy cups that are BPA-free, the side-impact baby carriages, the home preparation of baby food,” continued Mr. Howe, who runs Saeculum Research, a Virginia-based social trends consultancy.

Part of that obsession with safety is likely due to the hard times that both Generation Z and their parents experienced growing up. Their parents may have been safety-firsts, but the Z generation is predisposed to making vlogs of themselves doing cartwheels over their cats and fire-swallowing.

BORN ENTREPRENEURS

The New York ad agency, Sparks & Honey observed also that “entrepreneurship is in the DNA of Generation Z.”

“Kids are witnessing start-up companies make it big instantly via social media,” said Andrew Schoonover, a 15-year-old in Olathe, Kansas. “We do not want to work at a local fast-food joint for a summer job. We want to make our own business because we see the lucky few who made it big.”

Which leads to a final point about this new generation’s similarities to the Silent or Greatest Generation (who also grew up with an economic catastrophe and foreign aggression on American soil) As Mr. Howe points out,” it was not just the most career-focused generation in history. It was also …  the richest.”

“My personal goal,” Jake Paul offers, “is to be a billionaire.”

The New York Times posed these questions about Jake Paul. Is he genius or a jerk? A punk or a prophet? In a media landscape where clicks are money, does it even matter?

 

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Model-turned-actress-turned sourpuss, Cara Delevingne, recently flunked an interview on”Good Day Sacramento,” as she promoted her new movie, Paper Towns.

The interview had a rough start as one of the hosts introduced her as “Carla.” Her reaction was a scowl and she never fully recovered. At first, she tried to answer their questions with sarcastic humor, but as the interviewers pressed for more energy,  she didn’t like playing their game.

Photo courtesy of www.hollywood.com

Photo courtesy of www.hollywood.com

 

One host claimed that he had seen her on a talk show a few weeks ago where she appeared to be much more excited about Paper Towns and her role in it, and was curious as to why she was not as enthusiastic on his show (the morning after the premier.) She was baffled by this as she crinkled her eyebrows and responded by saying, “No, I don’t know where that comes from. No.”

The interview quickly ended as the cast of “Good Day Sacramento” told her they would let her go to “take a little nap, maybe get a Red Bull” …  since she seemed to be in a “mood.”

Many fans took to social media to blame both the interviewers and Ms. Delevingne. She also took to Twitter after this interview had scuffed up some harsh criticism stating that, “Some people just don’t understand sarcasm or the British sense of humour.”

Even when the media asks patronizing, insulting and stupid questions, it is essential to maintain a smile, keep one’s composure, match the energy and play the game. Because this interview was conducted over satellite, Ms. Delevingne perhaps did not fully grasp that she was one-on-one on camera,  which only enhanced the impression she gave, and the faces she made.

In media coaching at READY FOR MEDIA/Los Angeles, we prepare clients to expect the best, but be Ready for the worst. Ms. Delevingne let them make her look angry and disgruntled, which is not how you win the media game.

It’s  also important to keep things in perspective. She’s now an international movie star and they host a talk show in Sacramento!

Racist Rambling

Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, is subject to a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine for racist remarks. The decision was applauded by NBA players, owners and others connected to the league. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also said that he would do everything in his power to force the sale of the team.

The scandal stems from the release of an audio tape that recorded Mr. Sterling making racist remarks to his girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano. Mr. Sterling was scolding Ms. Stiviano for posting pictures of herself with black people to her Instagram account. He said that Ms. Stiviano can do whatever she wants in private, including have sex with black men, but she should not post photos of them to the internet or bring them to Clipper’s games.

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President Obama also responded to the controversy:

“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here.”

Mr. Sterling’s reputation is tarnished for his private comments made public. But in this electronic age, no one can afford to say what they should not. The audience is always listening!