Digital demographics: 11 brands that are doing it right

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Millennials: Authenticity and shiny chrome rims

In her excellent treatise [PDF] on millennial marketing, Carol Phillips, Notre Dame professor and president of Brand Amplitude, identifies seven key characteristics of effective marketing to millennials:

1. Be authentic.
2. Be relevant.
3. Be a necessity.
4. Be a value.
5. Be socially responsible.
6. Be shareable.
7. Be an experience.

Ford's Taurus effort in partnership with car lifestyle magazine Dub reflects many of these characteristics. By talking to real millenials, not actors, Ford honestly addresses past image problems, thereby making the ultimate family car relevant to the new family values of millennials. The nice rims didn't hurt, either. But that's part of being a millennial too: Family? Flash? Doink! Let's have both!

There was a lot more than video to this effort, with digital outdoor, social media, and brand integration on the Dub site, to give just a few examples.

Oh, but perhaps you found a tuner car campaign too "easy" to qualify as a sage observation from me in this article. For you, dear reader, I offer


Yes, that Harlequin -- famous for torn bodices and eerily hairless pirate torsos.

Yes, Virginia, Harlequin romance novels are definitely not just for Grandma anymore.

There are still pirates with hearts of gold and dusty but decidedly unstinky cowboys on some of the covers. But Harlequin is working hard to evolve and be culturally relevant to millennials. According to Book Business, Harlequin is at the forefront of e-publishing and "enhanced editions" that combine updated potboiler text with rich content, websites, and interactive experiences especially for Gen Y.

Harlequin is a leader in ebooks, offering titles on all the major platforms. In addition, the publisher offers blogging support, widgets, and badges, and extensive online marketing programs designed for the demo. Now, there's nothing to say that all this interactivity isn't relevant for all ages, but its success at attracting millennials is getting significant attention.