The Millennial generation is hugely important to the future of brands and culture. And many of the characteristics of this group — representing about 75 million people just in the U.S., ranging from 18 to 32 years old — have emerged pretty clearly.
"Generation Y" is fascinated by digital technology, but not so much by cars; it's by far the "greenest" age cohort in the United States; they value collaboration and informality above rugged individualism and corporate conformity; and — to marketers' chagrin — they're not exactly flush with cash, suffering more than any other generation from the Great Recession and the not-so-hot economic recovery following it.
That's why Newsweek has come up with a new handle for the generation that, the magazine argues, "have been screwed by their parents' fiscal profligacy and economic mismanagement." Hence the moniker, "Generation Screwed." And the best way to appeal to them? Humor. And money.
That's why KFC is wooing Gen Y by lightly mocking their current economic realities by calling them the "Basement Generation," citing the fact that almost half of American 18- to 24-year-olds are still living in their parents' house.
KFC has made this characterization the focus of a new original-content web series and contest aimed at promoting the chain's new Original Recipe Bites in this summer's chicken wars. In partnership with Comedy Central's ad sales team, KFC has launched a "Growing Up and Getting Out" (of the basement) series that features top talent of the cable network (including Dave Koechner of NBC's The Office fame).
The digital series, which launched this week, revolves around "Michael," who is adjusting to moving back home with his parents. "Each week," a KFC press release promises, "the series will capture the drama, tensions and funny moments between at-home Millennials and their parents."
And rather than just make Gen-Y viewers wince at their own helplessness, KFC also is offering a contest in which five Millennials can win "the ultimate motivation for moving out of their parents' house" — one year of free rent up to $12,000. The pitch: "Comedy Central producers will judge your submissions based on humor, creativity, originality, and fan enthusiasm (votes!). So share your entry on Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and did we forget to mention that the 5 winning entries win free rent for a year and a moving out party? Share your story now!"
There's nothing like turning lemons into marketing lemonade. But for Millennials who take in the KFC campaign, will the realities hit too close to home -- and cause them to lose, rather than gain, an appetite for Original Bites?