Fanta-stic ads on the big screen

May 30, 2017


The husband and I went to the cinema last week. I’m one of those people that always turns up early to screenings, because I enjoy watching the adverts and film trailers. My husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

At home if an ad break comes on when we’re watching TV, he’ll mute it. Unfortunately for him an app where you can selectively mute the cinema adverts hasn’t been invented. And from a marketing professionals POV, it would be very, very bad for that product to ever become available. (Sorry hubby.)

So while he’s sitting there cursing at the adverts, I’m viewing them with a more analytical eye. Yes, I really do get a kick out of a bit of marketing critical analysis. And yes, that’s totally what I did on this trip to the cinema.

There was one ad in particular that really caught my attention.

It was an advert for Fanta, you know, the soft drink company. It involved an older guy in a grey suit, who we assume to be the Head of Marketing, entering a meeting room full of young people – let’s call them Millennials – sitting on beanbags or space-hoppers and wearing interesting caps and neon. They’re about to have a marketing concept brainstorming meeting about how to sell Fanta to a new generation. Mr Grey Suit starts suggesting dull, traditional marketing ideas, while the young folks blurt out how they should include pineapples, kittens and social to really sell it.

Even though I clearly wasn’t the target market, I was totally hooked. I’m a sucker for irony, especially when the marketing and advertising industry decides to take a tongue-in-cheek look at itself. Which is exactly what this ad does.

Fanta ads for a new generation

I tried to find the exact advert I saw in the cinema, but couldn’t. So, complete disclosure: the below isn’t the exact one I referred to above. However, after digging around for it, I stumbled upon Fanta’s series of these adverts and they still demonstrate my point. Take a look through.

Fanta’s big advertising shake up

All of these ads, I feel, challenge how the marketing industry views itself, but more interestingly. they offer an opinion on how young people view marketing professionals.

Sure, there are obvious points Fanta are making about the struggle of marketing to Millennials and hamming up stereotypes of marketing teams in a digital age – the “fun” office with space-hoppers, the free-for-all brainstorming session and the obvious juxtaposition of dull, grey old style versus a hip, colourful, youthful approach – but what really got me was the whacking great big question about marketing and young people in the third video.

What even is marketing?

Holy hell! What a huge question. And a good question raised from a single line in Video #3: “Do you even know what a marketing department is?” asks the old guy, followed with a bunch of teens shaking their heads. In case you didn’t get that far in the videos, here it is:

I’m about to present two interpretations of this. Which one you choose to agree with will depend on how cynical you’re feeling.

Option #1 – Young people are dumb when it comes to marketing

Digging deeper into the Fanta for teens re-brand reveals that this whole campaign is about user-generated content. Teens are encouraged, like the Teen Marketing Officer guy in the advert, to create their own ad about Fanta. Upload it onto YouTube, Insta, whatever. Basically, young people are doing the hard marketing work, so the old grey suits don’t have to (lucky!).

So it begs the very cynical question: do young people even realise they’re being marketed to anymore? Or have these brands become so successful at integrating themselves with Millennials and Gen Z on social media – and possibly taking advantage of that position – that it’s simply another accepted part of their lives? Let alone them being aware there a whole departments devoted to the exact task.

Young people have the power to create a marketing revolution

The less cynical POV is that young people do realise they’re being marketed to and they actually have the ability to dictate to these brands exactly what it is they want by creating their own content. Their buying power is so huge, but the ways in which to reach them is now so vast that the brands have no choice but to go directly to the source and give them what they want in order to make a return.

Brands that are desperate to find that all-important “in” with this trend-conscious, ever-changing target audience. So much so, they’re even willing to invent whole new job roles to satisfy this highly-prized demographic.

It’s a thought, I’m sure, that whole academic papers have been dedicated to. And if there are any fellow content writers and marketers reading this, I’d love to hear your take on it in the comments below.

To sum up

Either way, it’s a really interesting campaign that draws on the irony and stereotypes of how two very different generations are approaching marketing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

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