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6 Millennial Marketing Lessons from “Broad City”

Drew Mathis By Drew Mathis

Broad City, a lewd comedy series on Comedy Central, focuses on the lives of two millennial women navigating through the concrete jungle that is New York City through hilarious adventures and hiccups. This show has become a national phenomenon because of its racy content and hysterical plot lines.

Broad City’s path to popularity is an example of a successfully implemented marketing strategy that appeals to millennials. Agencies worldwide can learn from these tactics to help reach that difficult 18-29 audience.

1. Plug In

It is crucial for marketers to understand how powerful the digital realm is when marketing to millennials and to take full advantage of the ease and exposure of this medium. Broad City, produced, written, starring, and created by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen, grew to popularity because of the viral success of their web series on YouTube, causing Comedy Central to pick up the internet sensation.

According to the Pew Research Center, of online millennials (ages 18-29) in the United States, 82% are on Facebook, 55% are on Instagram, 32% are on Twitter, and 37% are on Pinterest. Millennials also are extremely interactive with brands on social media, with 63% following their favorite brands, 43% liking more than 20 brands on Facebook, and 44% willing to promote products and services through social media in exchange for rewards.

To properly reach this target audience, marketers need to build powerful social branding for their product or service to engage this group. BuzzFeed successfully did this when it launched “Tasty,” a creative and spunky social recipe publisher that has more than 14 million Facebook followers. The videos are fun and easy for young cooks interested in quick and simple ways to spice up their diet.

2. Break Norms

When marketing to millennials, it is important not to confine a message to certain gender stereotypes. Gender is no longer binary, but rather a spectrum where many fall somewhere different or unexpected. Gone are the days where women cannot be the boss or men cannot be stay-at-home dads. In Broad City, Ilana and Abbi rarely exhibit any “ladylike” stereotypes with all of their indecencies, language, and outfit choices.

Statistics show that only 26% of millennials in the United States are married, nearly a third have put off marriage or having a baby, and nearly 68% of millennial women are working. Always’ #likeagirl campaign is an example of a brand breaking the gender norm. Doing something “like a girl” no longer means something inferior or demeaning –  instead, it can be used positively because doing anything like a girl is actually awesome.

3. Push Boundaries

Sometimes it’s okay to take a risk and see what happens. It’s not always necessary for marketers to play it safe and keep it completely PC. Boast about something not quite taboo but a little risqué, and the result may be groundbreaking. Everything about Broad City pushes boundaries. It is highly inappropriate, hysterical, and downright messy. This is why it is so successful – the over-the-top yet relatable content captures viewers.

House of Cards, the original series on Netflix, regularly pushes boundaries. In 2016, they took out airtime during an actual GOP debate to play a campaign ad for Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey). Toss in a memorable hashtag, #FU2016, and you’ve got built-in buzz. The campaigns website is packed with all the political swag any candidate would love. The series regularly pushes boundaries through storylines on the show, but this stunt was one for the record books.

4. Be Purposeful

Millennials are firm supporters of purpose brands, and this is extremely important to consider when branding a product or service. Seventy-five percent of millennials believe it is very important that a company give back to society instead of just making a profit. Tom’s has been successful in giving back with their One For One campaign: for every purchase of Tom’s shoes, they give a pair to someone in an underdeveloped country in need. Millennials also are the demographic most likely to wear Tom’s, so this commitment to giving back is an added attraction for this generation.

Millennials are the most progressive of all generations, with 57% calling themselves progressives on all cultural and social values, and they also boast the most racially diverse of each generation with 43% being nonwhite.

5. Don’t Conform

As a unit, millennials do not want to be lumped together, and being your true self is encouraged. Focusing on individuality appeals to the person, while focusing on conformity appeals to the masses. Selling to the millennial audience works best if the brand appeals to their unique needs and desires versus what marketers assume are their needs or desires just because they are millennials. Broad City is a perfect example of nonconformity, with the two main characters epitomizing the importance of unapologetically being yourself, even if you are a little different from the norm.

Look towards a brand like Dove and their “Real Beauty” campaign, which empowers and tells women everywhere that how you are and look now is beautiful and that you shouldn’t rely on popular culture as the standard of beauty.

6. Speak Up

Marketers need to understand the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Millennials are more likely to engage with a brand and find it trustworthy if they learned about it from someone close to them. Statistics show that only 6% of millennials consider online advertising to be credible, while 95% say their friends are the most credible source for a product.

These tactics encourage companies to be brave in order to succeed with that coveted millennial audience. Owning the brand, standing for something, breaking norms – all potentially risky moves but worth it in the end. Figuring out how to engage with this age bracket can be difficult, but these approaches can increase your potential of closing deals and convincing millennials that your product or service is a worthy investment.