Societal Views of Marijuana

By: Zoey Willhide

Marijuana is now legal in eleven states. For some people, that’s pretty great, right? In terms of advertising and marketing, it’s pretty great, too. The marijuana advertising world is pretty uncharted compared to more accepted industries, like cosmetics. Agencies that choose to take on projects having to do with the marijuana industry face obstacles with little to no regulation.

 With introduction of a new product comes an entire set of new challenges. One of the main obstacles that agencies struggle with in marijuana advertising is changing the perceptions of consumers. The stereotypical “lazy stoner” is still a symbol. Honestly, can we blame society for thinking this? With almost 100 years of prohibition and a negative connotation attached, it’s no wonder we have reservations. Federal law still has marijuana scheduled as a Schedule I narcotic, along with cocaine and heroin. I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t educated on the issue, I wouldn’t want to try something that’s in the same category as coke and heroin ( rules-and-taboos-cannabis-advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019). See the problem?

Marketers and advertisers alike have been taking a high-quality approach to this challenge. Companies like Dosist who create natural medicines using THC and CBD have worked with traditional agencies to create content that appeals to be more mainstream to the public. This content includes, ads, videos and other digital marketing techniques. The website itself is clean, simple and is easy to navigate ( rules-and-taboos-cannabis-advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019). To an average consumer, the message and product is easier to absorb and process.

In the United States, there isn’t a lot of regulation on the advertising of pharmaceuticals. We know this. Should advertisers take a page from the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies? 

Personally, I think some regulations for advertising medicines should be integrated in marijuana advertising. Especially when there are studies showing befits of Cannabidiol (CBD). The first drug approved by the FDA containing CBD is something called Epidiolex. The target market for this drug would commonly be people with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, mild pain, and heart disease (, 2018).

Another problem with advertising in the marijuana industry are the regulations. Since legal pot is still a relatively new product, there aren’t a lot of specific guidelines for print media. However, the FCC has extremely strict guidelines about promoting controlled substances over broadcast ( navigating-stigmas-rules-and-taboos-cannabis-advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019), including cigarette commercials. This has made advertising over television pretty much non-existent.

California has the most relaxed laws about marijuana and its marketing ( advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019). Basically, anything print is fair game. In contrast, Maryland has made it that much harder for marketers and advertisers. They’ve banned any type of cannabis advertisement, aside from medical dispensary logos.

Some states model their marketing after regulations already in place products with similar perceptions (i.e. alcohol), with California recently finalizing marketing regulations, we can see that there is some overlap when it comes to marketing to minors. These regulations include not making content marketable to audiences under 21 ( Gilbert-As_More_States_Legalize_Marijuana_Adv_Regulations_Come_into_Focus.pdf, Davis & Gilbert, 2019). This includes making things like cartoons, characters or anything that could influence a younger audience. Sweepstakes and raffles are also considered off limits. The public isn’t allowed to participate in winning anything marketed by marijuana companies ( As_More_States_Legalize_Marijuana_Adv_Regulations_Come_into_Focus.pdf, Davis & Gilbert, 2019).

Developing market strategies for marijuana and other products seen as taboo can prove to be difficult, especially when trying to abide by regulations that aren’t really regulations that also can’t be marketed to a certain audience in a certain way… yeah. It’s a lot.

 Regardless, everyone might as well get used to the idea of seeing marijuana marketed in more mainstream environments. The world is going green, and soon, the advertising world will be going in the same direction.

By: Paige Leonahardt

In a time when consumers are inundated with information and products constantly, remaining up-to-date with the modern world is the best way to grow success. An article in AdAge, Why Rebrands Are All The Rage, reviews the trend that big companies are jumping on board with the strategy of rebranding. One of the most relevant rebranding success stories is told through the company MailChimp. Mailchimp, once known for their convenient email services, has grown greatly since its genesis. After partnering with agency Droga5, the brand was thrown into the mainstream public with acquisitions and inventive digital wordplay. In a little over four years with Droga5’s strategies in place, the brand grew to more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue.

            The rebranding decision took force in 2018 when Mailchimp was preparing to relaunch with full-service marketing services, a departure from their singular focus on their mail services. They were anticipating a redesign of its identity. Some small changes that initially took place, they changed their infamous monkey logo to be winking and be one neutral yellow color. Also, they dropped the capital “C”, and launched as Mailchimp- minor, but evolved. Their goal was to get away from the mail part and focus on their monkey character logo, “Freddie”, an upbeat playful personality. The brand has also released many other digital design updates.

            This rebranding trend gained some heat and snowballed to other advertising agencies overhauling their clients’ identities. As stated in AdAge, Matt Kandela, CEO of branding and design company at Dear Future said, “It feels like we are witnessing a seismic shift in the sheer number of rebrands” (Sherwood, 2019). For example, Slack changed their logo to where their name isn’t even in the logo. Weight Watchers simplified to WW and Dunkin’ discarded Donuts. In fact, Dunkin’ is a brand recently that has been focusing on innovative ways to establish themselves yet maintain their original look and appeal. As reported by AdAge, the company has new packaging for coffee cups and their new donut fries are a couple early creative nuances, produced by agency Jones Knowles Ritchie (Wohl, 2019). JKR is an agency that has not only been revising the brand strategy recently for Dunkin’, but also formerly controlled the packaging strategy for Budweiser.

In today’s industry, rebranding may become a new norm. One reason for this trend aside from the rise of direct-to-consumer, is that company’s need consumers to know they are keeping up with modern times and have something new and refreshing about them. However, these brands are not completely leaving their original identity, rather evolving, updating. Sometimes too much revision can cause a loss of their typical equity with consumers and subsequently not have an ideal audience reaction, so there’s a line.

Furthermore, another factor in being successful at rebranding is that it means more than just aesthetics, as presented in a TWD article, Rebranding is the New Advertising. For instance, as reported by Akshayta Rao, when selling something other than a digital service, like merchandise, the changes better reflect in the quality as well. Zara has recently revamped their logo along with other marketing changes in an attempt to become a high-end recognition, however, “the customer returns for the quality and not the image,” said Rao of TWD. (Rao, 2019). Tangible difference if essential in real products. Also, what’s true for all these companies and the most successful ones, is that providing a more interactive and experiential interaction is part of living in the modern world. This is an important characteristic of a successful brand equipped with the right technological advancements.

By: Nicole Andino

Digital advertising has become a growing practice within the agency industry. One of the largest movements is cutting traditional :30 advertisements to only :06. These :06 advertisements are also known as “bumper advertisements”. This idea originated from Youtube in 2016, “at Sundance YouTube unveiled a new ad format to brands: the unskippable, six second ‘bumper’ ad.” Bumper ads have been surprisingly successful in the digital media world. eMarketer predicts the digital video advertisements industry will exceed over $22 billion by the end of 2021.

eMarketer also states some of the best practices of the industry have been discovered by using bumper advertisements. “Industry experts shared in early 2017 continue to be top of mind, including focusing on short ads, using detailed targeting criteria and making ads contextually relevant to the space around them.”

When it comes to producing a bumper advertisement, it is important to follow a few tips. 4A’s Agency Accelerator states these tips in order to create a successful bumper advertisement.

Focus on the purpose of the advertisement

Reducing from :30 to :06 is a challenge in itself. Instead of trying to do as much as possible, the key is to do one thing great. For example, a product feature or even a joke.

Plan time to establish your bumper advertisement

By beginning with a single visual, it gives the viewers a chance to be drawn into the advertisement. This allows your audience to step into your brand’s space, which avoids confusion towards your brand, service or product.

:06 advertisements are more powerful than you think

Our generation is immersed with swiping, scrolling and tapping through thousands of images each day. People today do not want to take 30 seconds to hear about a brand’s mission and product services.

Having a simple visual or striking headline can be enough for your viewers to serve as a powerful and memorable :06.

Memorable campaigns in just under :06

The next step is finding out how to make your bumper advertisement as memorable as possible. Incorporating relevant, but not identical, content to your advertisements greatly impacts the way your audience notices your advertisement. Viewers respond well to variations. By having relevant trends in your advertisement, your viewer will be drawn into your advertisement because they have associated with the trend and your brand.

The goal of advertising is to engage with your target audience to promote your brand, service or product. Bumper advertisements have a unique way of appealing to viewers. Let’s say you have one single :30 advertisement launched for three months, but your leading competitor has five separate bumper advertisements at :06 each over the same time period. Your leading competitor has a better opportunity of reaching their audience because they will explore different messages and ideas from each bumper ad.

Most people do not enjoy advertisements popping up in every application they use; that’s why it is crucial to get creative when delivering an advertisement. Even the time difference of :30 to :06 reduces the amount of clicks aways from your advertisement.


Chi, C. (0AD). 13 Amazing YouTube Pre-Roll Ads That Last Just Six Seconds. Retrieved from

Content, T. P. (2017, April 28). Success in Six: 4 Best Practices for Building Impactful YouTube Bumper Ads. Retrieved from

Editors, eM. (2018, February 23). Digital Video Industry Continues to Grow in Size and Complexity. Retrieved from

Ha, A. (2016, April 26). YouTube introduces six-second Bumper ads. Retrieved from

By: Matthew Ditchen

            Advertisements have been a staple in the consumer-based market that society lives in today. However, the way in which advertisements are seen by consumers are constantly changing. Billboards and print advertisements are still present and profitable today, but take more of a back seat to where we see a majority of our ads in the digital age we live in currently. For the longest period of time, television was the number one place for consumers to see advertisements and that was the medium dominated until the age of the Internet. With the development of the Internet, it soon opened doors for more people to get what they wanted, now faster than ever. This convenience of the Internet started to develop in consumer’s minds and soon entered into their entertainment spaces, too. Netflix is well known as one of the first streaming services to effectively change how people watch movies and TV shows. The streaming service has no ads, and for the first time you could start or pause your show or film at your own convenience. This soon started an effect for every entertainment studio to develop a streaming platform and is the reason there are many subscription based streaming services available with more on the way.

            Today, more consumers watch more content on streaming services than compared to traditional television, which directly impacts where and how we see advertisements while we are watching. Gone are the times where consumers viewed commercials during commercial breaks for scheduled shows when they were being broadcasted. Now, with everyone being able to watch whenever it changes the how, when and where advertisers can share their content. An article in Forbes states the importance of staying on top of current trends and its benefits by stating, “[t]his allows advertisers to better determine the kind of data they can collect and pick the most suitable formats for their ads” ( Some of these new strategies are starting to be tested out to reach viewers in new non-abrupt. Hulu is experimenting with “Pause-Ads”, which are ads that would pop up on the display when you pause a shows with top-tier sponsorship. Another way of advertising that is being tested out is brands showing up in and outside of shows with special content or prizes. An article in Variety talked about this type of advertising by stating, “[a]s part of a promotion around the launch of another season of “Billions,” a Heineken ad available on Roku helped viewers ‘unlock’ the ability to stream the previous cycle of the show, all to build appetites for fresh episodes” (

            In our digital age of technology, change will continue to happen, which is why it remains crucial to adapt to survive. A report from Videa, a company that reports industry news for media professionals, said this about the changing landscape: “[e]ven as the television industry changes and innovates, there are certain elements that remain the same, and for good reason” ( Advertisement is a staple in our culture that thankfully won’t be disappearing any time soon, but continues to rapidly change. The lesson that streaming services are teaching us is that times are changing and as media marketers, it’s imperative that we stay up to date so that we can start to plan what the consumer will want next.

Reference List 


By: Jack Gosner

            Chance the Rapper has been wearing hats since he was a kid.  He looks at them as a method of rebellion. As he said in his interview with GQ, “I used to always rock a cap when I was in high school and get them taken away…it was an excessive amount”.  He feels like they help him keep a simple and child-like mindset in his life. Since he has become one of the most popular rappers of the decade, he has used his love, and dare I say obsession, of hats to sell his albums and build himself a sizeable net worth.  His most famous hat is a plain-colored, classic ball cap style, with a white or black number 3 on it.  Selling them at $50 a piece, they’d sell out upon release on October 9th, 2016. Chance has gone on record saying that his merchandise is his main stream of revenue.  The difference between Chance and other mainstream hip-hop artists is that he allows his fans to stream his music for free and is not signed to a label.  This means he can release his music whenever and however he wants.  In 2016, when he released his wildly popular album, Coloring Book, he only allowed those with Apple Music to stream it for the first two weeks.  This created a lot of buzz because one, the annoyance that resulted from fans accustomed to streaming his projects for free and two, because it generated interest not only the project, but in the streaming service. The partnership was beneficial for both parties and his album became the first album EVER to reach the Billboard 200 charts on streaming alone.

            Another master of marketing in the hip-hop world is Kanye West.  He became popular as a producer for some of the biggest names in rap, and then rose to fame as a rapper himself.  He is a god according to himself and a marketing genius according to me.  First off, his luxury shoe line, named after his nickname, Yeezy, had made him tens of millions of dollars.  He talks about his lucrative partnership with Adidas in some of his songs, which then brings attention to his shoe line, which then drives sales. He also hosts a Christian “worship” service of sorts, Sunday Service, on Sunday mornings across the country.  He hosts a large choir at these mostly outdoor services and plays hymns and his own songs throughout, with a famous pastor or celebrity giving a message sometime during the service. He uses these services as a way of expressing his feelings towards God, but also as a way of promoting himself.  The choir all wear clothing pieces from his fashion line, along new or unreleased Yeezys.  Kanye also has a merch store set up nearby with merchandise specific to the service.  Hoodies go for over $200, and a pair of socks can be $50.While he is trying to use this time of “worship” to express his religious beliefs, it is clear that by playing his own songs and selling his own merch that this is also a performance of sorts for him.  I believe there is nothing wrong with this and that he plays the marketing game better than any other artist, which is what has helped drive him to the top of the hip hop scene.

            It is no secret how big hip hop is in our country, and it’s only getting bigger.  Whether artists are paving the way for new paths to success, like Chance the Rapper, or are capitalizing on people’s need to feel included, like Kanye West, every hip hop artist has their own way of marketing themselves and their products. I think it will be interesting to see how these tactics evolve in the future as new artists takeover and rise to fame.

By: Kelsi Camp

When I first came to West Virginia University, I did not have a clue what public relations was. That might sound shocking, considering I am in the major now. When I first started college, I was a forensic science major, probably due to the amount of criminal justice documentaries I was watching when I was in high school.

 I decided to change my major to Strategic Communications with an emphasis in public relations and added a minor in creative writing when I was halfway through my sophomore year. I remember my mom told me this was a major that had a lot to do with writing, and at the time that was what I was most passionate about. So, I decided to go for it.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

When I first researched my new major, I did not understand what the communications process was. I did not know the many layers that go into communications. PRSA describes the many functions that develops public relations as:

When explaining my major to friends and family members, I often find that they do not completely understand what it is. Robert Wynne said, “Very few people can explain what people in public relations really do. If you’re a cop, a construction worker or a cowboy, everybody knows your job function.”

I think people have a hard time understanding public relations because of how much the field of public relations has changed over time. Just a couple decades ago this field was limited in what it could do. Now the field has an entire new side, digital, with endless possibilities. The traditional media is still in use, (for example: traditional media primarily involves print media, television and radio) but it is the digital side of this field that drives my passion for public relations today.

Public relations is not something that can be taught through lectures and exams. Nearly all of my classes have been hands-on. For instance, researching, creating hypothetical campaigns, writing scripts, producing videos, executing interviews and my new-found passion, designing. It has been through this hands-on work that I have developed my passion for content creation. In this field you have creative freedom, yet you put strategy behind your creations. You give a purpose to every element, even down to the font choice.

When I took my first design class during my junior year, I did not know what I was getting into. I had heard of photoshop before, but I thought the most use out of it would be changing the lighting on your soon-to-be Instagram post. In that class I was introduced to my new obsession, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. I remember the first day of that class, our assignment was to look at an icon of an animal and replicate it. I worked on that animal icon for an entire week, and still had some distorted animal when I turned in my assignment.

Throughout that course, I spent hours watching YouTube tutorials and by the end of that semester I had created an entire hypothetical campaign. When the class ended, I found myself still practicing design in my free time. I spent most of my summer creating and practicing on the programs.

Now, thanks to Martin Hall Agency, I have the opportunity to work with real clients. Martin Hall Agency is a class here at West Virginia University that helps students get a better idea of what working in an agency will be like, by providing students the opportunity to work with real clients.  I am creating logos, branding plans, print advertisements and many other design-related content that is going out into the world. I get to build my portfolio with not just conceptual work, but with work that is being provided to a company. I am so excited to continue showcasing my work through this class and building my portfolio to prepare for graduation.

By: Autumn Elliot

            Today, we are living in a generation where a person’s gender matters more than it should. Each person faces obstacles while entering the job force, especially women. Founder and EDC of agency Red&Co, Mira Kaddoura discusses why the ad world needs more female founders, “According to Fast Company, nearly half of women dream of starting their own business but only 12 percent think it’s even possible, and an even smaller smidgen actually do it” (Kaddoura, 2018). Women need to have the resources and confidence to believe they can succeed in the agency world.

            Growing up, my mom stayed at home and my dad worked full-time. I didn’t think much of this, except it was my routine. Eventually as I began to grow up and learn all that the world truly has to offer, I knew I wanted to do something more. As a young female planning to soon enter the agency world, I am destined for obstacles. The agency industry is slowly evolving. Some agencies are beginning to give new mothers paid time off and equal pay as their male colleagues. If more women begin to take charge and open their own agencies, we can perpetuate these changes.

            I have always been inspired by female leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling and Michelle Obama who have each faced obstacles along their career journey but persevered. Worn is a strategy and design agency in New York City that helps brands build with a female perspective. Worn stood out to me because they are a team of women who have not let the obstacles of the agency world slow them down. The team is “100% committed to women’s success” by moving their way up to working with well-known clients like Colgate, Revlon and Planned Parenthood. (Worn, 2019).

            It is important to know the value of your colleagues’ and your worth in the advertising industry. Every human has something different to offer. A Forbes article recognizes the issues surrounding patriarchal run companies’ states, “Male-dominant creative agencies are missing a huge opportunity.” (Dockendorf, 2019). A key part of creative strategy is being able to think from the viewer’s perspective. Viewers are not going to be all male, female, black, white or any other simply defined demographic. One of the benefits of female leaders provide is said best in an AdAge article stating, “Female leaders tend to prioritize hiring people from a variety of colors, ethnicities and backgrounds, including working moms, nerds and introverts.” (Kaddoura, 2018). We are a society of mixed races and mixed culture, and creative agencies need to think diversely for their potential audience. Industry expert Taja Dockendorf points out common, damaging stereotypes about women being “catty” and “not-supportive” of each other in the workplace. Contrarily, men are known for being hardworking.

            Furthermore, the agency world is taking small steps towards working more females in the agency world. With agencies like Worn, Red&Co and Pulp+Wire, there are women leaving their footprint and taking a stand. To make a difference, not only females need to take a stand, but males must make an effort to include more women and their perspectives. “It’s time to call out brands for their role in changing the status quo – and getting the unconventional thinking they so desperately crave,” Kaddoura points out, signaling ways to seeing positive changes in the industry. Agencies who have been brave in their position to be different in the industry are entitled to more recognition because these are the agencies that are going in the right direction for the future of advertising. In my opinion, these are the agencies that will have greater longstanding success due to positively evolving within the modern world. I hope to be a productive advocate and addition to the industry in supporting more integration of women into higher roles.

By: Johnny Kleissas

In today’s world, we see professional sports teams trying to reach their target audience and expand their audience through social media. Social media and professional sports go hand-in-hand. Athletes realize by branding themselves on social media showcasing their personality off the field, it leads to followers, endorsements and more money. The NBA (National Basketball Association) has been about all star players not teams for a while and it’s worked for them. It is something that the NFL (National Football League) has tried to emulate and it has worked for them, not so much their teams. The NBA markets their fans to certain players, not teams such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant. NBA fans are loyal to these players not so much the franchises they play for anymore, and the NBA takes full advantage of that from a marketing perspective.

The NFL is the most popular professional sport in America (and it’s not even close). They are a different story then all the other professional sports leagues in America. For sports organizations these players on social media talking too much can lead to more problems, especially in the NFL. Players like Juju, Baker Mayfield, and Odell Beckham Jr. are all players that are very well known on social media they never are afraid to express their opinion. All of these players have had verbal confrontations with other players on Twitter in the past and that has led to head storylines for games on Sunday. It almost seems like they are taking the spotlight away from their team and making it about themselves versus that other player. For an NFL organization that can be a marketing blessing but also a front office nightmare. 

The advantages are clear, these players are larger than life personalities and have received millions in endorsement deals because of their personalities. These players can be who they want to be and make money outside of football that is their right and they are taking full advantage of their talent. Each franchise is trying to create their own social media personality in this era to gain fans of their own. Baker Mayfield went to Twitter to express his displeasure with the Giants drafting Duke Quarterback Daniel Jones in the first round. Baker said on Twitter “I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones. Blows my mind. … Some people overthink it. That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.” Baker takes these shots at players he doesn’t have any issues with and expresses his opinion on a lot of topics which has put a target on his back for other NFL teams. The Cleveland Browns have gone from America’s loveable loser with a bright future, to become television drama series that looks like a tragedy. Antonio Brown has to be the best example for a player that just couldn’t put the phone down. He was arguably the best Wide Receiver in the NFL and has made himself impossible to have on your team, just by what he says on social media.

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The National Football league has used all of these to market to their fans. They showcased their players on social media for being more than just football players but actual people too. These teams love to brag about their on social media superstars that make unhuman plays and get their fans to go out and by their jerseys. Somewhere along the line the players wanted more freedom and more say and wanted their voices to be heard. At what point does a team say enough is enough? At what point does it go back to winning football games as a team and being a part of something bigger than yourself? These are questions NFL have to ask themselves every day.

By: Ana O’Brien

Just like countless other professions, the advertising industry may also be guilty of gender pay gaps, unconscious bias, female underrepresentation in leadership roles and minority exclusion (e.g. race, LGBTQ). After taking the time to research such issues, it is apparent how these issues can be prevented and how our classrooms can become proactive.

It is imperative to educate college students and emerging professionals about the benefits and competitive edge diversity could give a workplace. Teams comprised of more diverse backgrounds create more innovative ideas. Yet, just 11% of industry creative directors are female. This statistic is just one of endless examples of how the advertising industry has not practiced inclusivity amongst its professionals. The average ad industry employee likely agrees the lack of racial diversity is a very unfortunate situation. But on a daily basis, he’s likely to carry on, figuring for the most part the industry will evolve and that his nonwhite co-workers are content with the state of adland.

So, how will we make a change? How can students, who have yet to enter the industry, work towards changing these statistics? To professionals educated about diversity in the field and even millennials that are up-to-date with trends, it may be obvious that different people present different ideas. However, something that is obvious to us may not be obvious or cared about by others. Advertisers make it their job to strategically communicate brand images to consumers and to make them actually care about a product or service. It is time for us, as students primed to enter the industry, to make professionals and communities actually care about diversifying the workplace.

The foundation for implementing diversity starts with ensuring an entry level professional is “schooled in organizational behavior and culture and networking skills, like how to successfully advocate for oneself, find and work with sponsors and mentors, how to understand industry culture and agencies’ cultures and how to navigate organizational politics”. While we as students learn about how to advertise, it is crucial to consider all of the factors that will affect the job.

Within Martin Hall Agency, our class is equipped with diversity specialists, including myself, that ensure issues of exclusion are avoided. Every other week, we video chat with both emerging and seasoned professionals from the advertising industry. At this time, we listen to their personal experiences and we are able to ask them about how they handle issues in the field. The cohesion between our team members allows us to comfortably help one another to be confident and knowledgeable in our field.

As one of the diversity specialists at Martin Hall Agency, it’s my mission to ensure a diversified agency and continue to enlighten others around me that may suffer from unconscious bias. The classes we take, the knowledge we learn and the relationships we make, if obtained in an inclusive way, will be the optimal foundation for what we will bring to the table for future career endeavors.


Farey-Jones, L. (2016, January 22). It’s Time for Wage Equality in Advertising. Retrieved from

Mallia, K. L. (2016). Addressing the elephant in the room. (Or, I dare you to ignore this any longer.). Journal of Advertising Education, 20(1/2), 104–110.

Wheaton, K. (2012). Silent minorities speak out about adland isolation. (cover story). Advertising Age, 83(13), 1–26. Retrieved from

By: Megan Hardy

Though every new generation of consumers force change and innovation in the advertising industry, some present more challenges than others. Generation Z, the demographic of people born between 1995 and 2015 roughly, offer new and unique challenges for advertisers. Appealing to the short attention span of members of this demographic, which is an average of eight seconds, and the challenge of creating new and engaging digital content that will appeal to a generation of kids practically born with an iPhone in their hand is no easy task for a brand. However, with Generation Z expected to make up forty percent of consumers by 2020, engaging this segment of the market is vital to a brand’s success. What can advertisers do to stand out when it comes to advertising to members of Generation Z?

            It comes as no surprise that a strong digital and social media presence tops the list when it comes to how young people prefer to engage with brands. In a 2019 survey breaking down the habits of this demographic, 45 percent of the 14 to 26-year olds surveyed said they were almost “constantly online” (campaignmonitor, 2019). Although social media was the top ranked way young people chose to interact with brands, email was a close second. Generation Z members are surprisingly responsive to email advertising when used in conjunction with social media advertising efforts and most reported checking their email multiple times a day. The effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns targeting Generation Z hinges upon a brand’s ability to use these different platforms without sending the same exact message. Instead, the key lies in pairing social media and email advertising so that they complement one another and create a unified experience for the viewer.

            Gen Z’ers have grown up with the internet at their fingertips, so it’s no surprise that most are tech savvy Internet natives who want information in the quickest and most concise way possible. Long, wordy advertisements are ineffective. Instead, this generation wants to be provided with information quickly, mostly through visual and video advertising. 74 percent of this generation report that they watch more than 30 minutes of video a day, via their mobile devices (Felix, 2019). Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook Watch and IGTV are all highly visual platforms and have the highest engagement rates with members of Generation Z. The short attention span of this demographic is perfect for these platforms, which can provide them information quickly, without having to read large blocks of text or search for what they are looking for. Video content provides an organic advertising alternative where the content the viewer is watching doesn’t feel like they’re viewing an advertisement. Additionally, Gen Z skips the most advertisements, so invasive traditional advertising will not be successful with this demographic (Felix, 2019).

            Like video advertising, influencer marketing is also highly effective when capturing the attention of the Generation Z audience. However, unlike the traditional heroes that baby boomers and millennials valued, such as baseball players and movie stars, the younger demographic seems to be more responsive to “micro-influencers”. These are people that they see as their peers, who are not famous in the traditional sense, but instead young people with large social media followings, often focused in certain categories such as gaming, lifestyle, travel and beauty. In a survey by GlobeNewswire, more than 60 percent of Gen Z’ers said they prefer ads with “real” people to those with celebrities (Pankowski, 2019). Brand endorsements from micro-influencers on platforms like Snapchat and YouTube can be very engaging to this generation. Though studies have found Generation Z to be the least tolerant of advertising, they are more likely to engage with a brand if the advertising includes influencers the target audience views as similar to themselves (Felix, 2019).

            Arguably most important to obtaining brand engagement from Generation Z is their perceived image of the brand as a whole. Generation Z is the most diverse and multicultural in history (Felix, 2019). They are open-minded and crave inclusion, diversity and humanity. Generation Z interacts most with brands that humanize themselves and prove they are ethical and socially responsible. They resonate most with brands that are unapologetically unique. Gen Z, far more than other generations, researches brands marketed to them and passes information onto their peers. They care about what and who their money is funding. They do not want to see perfect models with unrealistic body standards or lavish displays of wealth, but instead flock to brands with dedication to bettering the world around them and encouraging the inclusion of everyone, no matter race, religion, sexuality or other point of diversity. A realistic and genuine approach to advertising is vital in capturing a Generation Z audience.  

Works Cited

Felix, P. (n.d.). Gen Z: Why Native Advertising Is the Best Way to Reach them. Retrieved September 26, 2019, from

Pankowski, M. (2019, August 27). 4 ways to make your brand ‘lit’ to Gen Z, by a member of Gen Z. Retrieved September 26, 2019, from

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing to Gen Z in 2019 [New Research]. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2019, from

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