April 22, 2003
A basic truth underlying all of our research findings is that teens and young adults cannot stand the idea of being deceived. Certainly no one “likes” being deceived, but teens are especially likely to reject communication targeting them because they’re hyper-sensitive to a “wizard behind the curtain,” some self-seeking company or entity behind the communication.
To these teens and young adults, brand loyalty most often emerges from a sense that their favored brand ISN’T seeking them out and pitching to them, but rather that they themselves have sought out the brand, chosen it and made it cool. If you think about it, when it happens organically, “coolness” is a creative act: a young subculture actively chooses and puts their own meanings into something. Others see and share this perception and it snowballs.
These days, most teen brands mimic this phenomenon. They try to seem like they have already been chosen and imbued with “cool” by trendsetting teens. But alas, teens are even more hypersensitive to attempts at mimicking cool.
It may benefit us to ask, “what communication actually IS undeniably authentic to these teens?” What do they consider a prototypically worthwhile communication aimed at them? One answer we encounter is street art, produced by artists for free: no profit, no curtains, no wizards. If there is a message, it is usually political not corporate, and very understated if stated at all.
Bozack Nation is an online visual zine, this month showcasing one photographer and then various street artists and their work.
You can click through the magazine quickly to get a sense of the imagery.
|Communications as puzzles
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