Un-Marketing, Gen Y & Pie

If you’re in marketing, you’ve heard of Gen Y. It’s the millennial generation, or you may even agree with Bret Easton Ellis’ moniker, Generation Wuss. Now whether or not you agree with the characteristics of Gen Y, it’s clear that this is a generation of extremely active social media-ites. They take social media quite seriously and enjoy every aspect of its stratosphere from being the first to find original content to curating content on Tumblr that shows off their personal style.

With the end-of-the-year holidays quickly approaching, there’s no better time than now to re-think your social campaigns for Gen Y.

If you’re not thinking about Gen Y’s impact on your business, you’re missing out on 80 million people in the United States alone. They are the largest generation to follow the boomers, and they also pack a $1.8 trillion spending power.

So what do you need to know about this “Tribe of Individuals?” First of all, they don’t want to be marketed to. In fact,  they can spot unoriginal, tasteless, disingenuous content from a mile away. They don’t respond with the same enthusiasm to a BOGO promotion that you pumped out through TV commercials, newspapers and flyers. They want videos, social media spotlight, interesting and interactive content that has a totally original idea.

Enter “Un-Marketing, Gen Y & P.I.E.”

Un-Marketing, Gen Y & Pie Infographic


What’s the Big Idea of Un-Marketing?

Businesses tend to think it’s rather difficult to market to Gen Y because they’re so individualistic, particular and often scathing of big brands. That doesn’t mean that big brands haven’t broken through the barrier. The case of Taco Bell is just one example. Taco Bell is so interactive on Twitter that they’re well known for “random acts of Twitter goodness.” They’re constantly retweeting to their fans, giving away things to their fans on the spot and looking for opportunities to sell a taco to a generation who dances to a beat under their own sombrero.

Un-marketing means exactly like how it sounds. You’re creating something incredible: an original, one-of-a-kind thing that is a step above what others would do in the industry, and you’re publishing it out there for anyone to see. Your advertisement, mobile campaign or product has all the special ingredients to ensure that it gets seen by Gen Y.

And What are Those Special Ingredients?

PIE strategy


The advertising strategy of P.I.E. puts un-marketing into context.




Because Gen Y craves the “You Only Live Once” experience, they are willing to spend massive amounts of time, money and energy getting that experience. You may think that what a millennial spends on your products is the actual worth of un-marketing to them, but in reality, it’s what they say, share and value about your brand that will truly give your products worth.

The P.I.E. strategy is structured so that your content, message, brand, products, services and advertisements all coordinate together to deliver that one-of-a-kind, original experience. It’s never been done by your brand or even in your industry. It’s not elusive to you, but maybe you thought it was out of the realm of possibility. That’s exactly the type of P.I.E. advertising that a millennial is attracted to.

Examples of P.I.E.

This strategy isn’t wholly new. Brands have been going out of their way to do something incredible for ages. However, there’s a reason why some brands get noticed for these acts and others don’t. For one, they’re not pushy about how original something is. They don’t flaunt. They share, of course. In fact, they share it all over social networks, quietly submit it to Reddit, discreetly publish it on a related forum, and as it goes to all of these different networks, it builds a little bit more momentum. However, the one major thing that they do is video. Honestly, if you’re going to do something original, YouTube is the way you publish it.


In 2014, Fox put out a movie called Devil’s Due. They did all of the traditional big movie marketing, but they also did something different. They created a YouTube video called “Devil Baby Attack,” a prank video that got nearly 50,000,000 views. Of course, it subtly promoted the movie as well.

Another way is through a company blog that’s in tune with its readers. For example, Red Bull is connected to an incredible amount of festivals because it recognizes the impact of music on Gen Y. In fact, the brand went so far as to create a blog dedicated to music, artist projects and events.

Then there are festivals like SXSW, which bring it all together. Music, original ideas, crazy marketing concepts and a furry truck that serves ice cream.

Finally, Eggo demonstrated the power of giving something away on Facebook in their contest, The Great Eggo Waffle Off. While Eggo had to part with $5,000, they received thousands and thousands of shares from young people including fans, friends, strangers, countrymen and the rest who wanted to get their waffle recipe published.

What makes these strategies work even better is how they connected this content to their audience. By celebrating these original ideas on social media and creating ideal mobile experiences, you have a direct line to the world of millennials.

In addition, it’s about being courageous when it comes to audience research. If your audience is mainly between the ages of 13 and 18, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a Tumblr that links to your company blog.

In fact, any way that you can celebrate a millennial’s interests and social connectivity is going to win big.

Am I saying that by being outlandish and doing something crazy, by taking a step back and listening to your creatives that you’re always going to get it right with Gen Y? No. However, you will get their attention. Once you have that attention, it’s up to you how you celebrate what they love.

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