5 Terribly Awkward Attempts To Appeal To Young People
Advertisers are a lot like popular kids in high school: They're rich, always hanging out with hot people, and devoting every conscious thought to how to look cool. Here are five attempts to market to young people that are high-key LOL epic #fails to the max.
Microsoft Asks Potential Employees To "Get Lit" With Them
If there's one thing that Microsoft (the creators of Windows NT and Clippy the Helpful Paperclip) makes me think of, it's partying. At least, that's what their recruiters want candidates to think. In an effort to get in good with tomorrow's top talent, they sent out emails to interns in Silicon Valley inviting them to come party the Microsoft way.
The email is addressed to "bae intern," because "bae" is something this recruiter must have heard their niece use once, and parroting youth-speak is life. It's an invite to a party which they insist will be exclusive, despite the fact that they invited every intern working in tech whose email they could find. Undoubtedly, Microsoft set some kind of minimum baeness quotient (MBQ) required for entry. Because that's how you verifiably partayyy!
To make sure they were speaking the young 'uns language, they hit all the hip keywords that you'd get from a Bing search of "What is cool?"
Sunglasses are the one cool thing that hasn't excluded itself from Bing.
For those of you who aren't "woke," allow me to translate. (I am half woke on my mother's side.) Microsoft's "crew" of communications BAs with five-plus years of recruitment experience is throwing this party after Internapalooza, which I can only guess from the name is a travelling intern festival that was very popular in the early '90s. They promise "hella noms, lots of dranks," and "the best beats." That is to say, these Microsoft employees will have food, drinks, and music. They are describing the minimum requirements for a party.
"Oh yeah, we're running this party in FULL RESOLUTION!"
The real draw, though, is meant to be Yammer beer pong tables. Beer pong is a drinking game popular at frat parties. Yammer is a social network for business. A "Yammer beer pong table," then, is a place to collaborate with your peers on getting crunk with your peers, smarter, with better analytics and integrated with iOS and Android.
Yep, Microsoft is the fleekest multinational corporation that just DGAF about anything (except its pending antitrust cases) and is always down for a Microsoft Azure and chill. The email concludes with an all-caps, coral-colored, "Hell yes to getting lit on a Monday night." Of course Microsoft likes to get lit. Where do you think they got the idea for that pipe screensaver?
"OK, hear me out: We have to try again with the Zune."
Hillary Clinton Asked People To Describe Their Crippling Debt In Emojis
Connecting with America's youth is vital in presidential elections. Not because their views matter (they don't vote), but because tweeting at young people is today's kissing babies: You earn likability with minimal contact with actual young people. All you have to do is tweet halfway intelligently about anything young people care about, and you're praised for being an adolesceltongue who is both "with it" and "gets it." Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton should have had a home run on her hands when she tweeted about her $350 billion college affordability plan, but she couldn't resist tempting the gods of social media.
On paper, the thinking here makes sense. Clinton was unveiling a plan that college students should love: $350 billion in student debt relief. And those college students love emojispeak. So together, these two things should make an irresistible combination, as good as unagi ice cream.
Clinton's campaign thought the tweet would precipitate a cascade of fire emoji tweets, each more two-hands-praising-emoji than the last. And that's what might have happened if Clinton had simply said, "How do you feel about your student loan debt? Ready for a change?" If she'd just straightforwardly pandered to them, undergrads would have showered her in creative emojis.
Or if it had been someone with crippling student loan debt expressing themselves in three emojis, the internet would have loved that too. We would have named them the voice of a generation and given them a deal for a young adult novel written completely in dystopian pictographs.
"Mom? What's 400 more phrases for 'fuck you'?"
Instead, millionaire political insider Hillary Clinton asking students with paralyzing amounts of debt to describe it in "three emojis or less" came off as further out of touch than George Clooney in Gravity. People responding didn't need three emojis to express themselves; they made do with just one finger.
Unsurprisingly, Clinton apologized for making light of the very hardships she is working to ease. Even less surprisingly, her campaign keeps making half-informed references to current pop trends, like holding a campaign event at a Pokemon Go gym. Someone please tell her that no matter what happens, she is never to mention Jynx.
The Department Of Health and Human Services Will Debase Itself To Any Degree If People Will Think About Their Health
The Department Of Health and Human Services has the unenviable task of trying to get Americans to take care of themselves. This task is particularly unenviable when it comes to young people, who treat their bodies like they're going to live forever and then proceed to live basically forever as sickly, overweight, expensive adults perpetually on death's door.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Since America needs millions of pounds of cure, HHS has been throwing anything they can think of at this problem. They have infographics, an active YouTube channel, and will shamelessly use anything millennials might recognize to trick them into caring for themselves.
Exhibit A is a post captioned, "Start a conversation with a friend about becoming an #OrganDonor." It is a picture of a text exchange, apparently between two friends, that begins with "ru an organ donor?" Now, I think becoming an organ donor isn't a huge sacrifice, for the same reasons I think offering someone your laptop when you're dead isn't a huge sacrifice: You'll be dead, and they'll probably be worthless by that point anyhow. Still, the text "ru an organ donor" out of the blue would terrify me even coming from the most laidback of my friends.
"Also, wuld ur skin make a qt dress?"
And the post only gets weirder from there. The response is not "Holy shit, is that you outside my window right now?" but rather the equally laidback yet somehow all-business "Yes, u?" Now I don't know who's creepier: the friend texting about postmortem plans for no reason, or the friend who does not bat an eye at the question, as though they've been expecting it. Then the reply seals the deal: It's just a smiley face staring back at you with beady eyes. You started this conversation, dude! Why are you not answering this question?
Finally, the response to the smiley face is an ASCII heart, which would normally mean "I love you," but in this case seems like a literal offer of the cardiac muscle. Thus, in an attempt to appeal to millennials, HHS gave us a vivid picture of a text exchange between two morbid, socially awkward young people. So, Cracked readers.
Exhibit B is an adapted "doge" meme meant to inspire young people to sign up for health care. As usual, it features a very cute Shiba Inu with its inner monologue displayed in pastel comic sans. It's cute and kind of funny, if you like that sort of thing. The trouble is that the main reason young people don't sign up for healthcare is that they think they won't need it. A cute puppy frolicking through the snow and making grammar mistakes doesn't inspire confidence in the system they're supposed to buy into for their own good.
"So trust." "Much effective."
The ad is just "Hey, they'll recognize this internet meme!" They might as well have made an ad that says "Know who thinks signing up with us for health insurance is a great idea? LEEEEEROY JENKINS!"
Finally, Exhibit C is an anti-bullying ad. For some reason, though, it appears to be borrowing from the #followmeto project by Instagram user @muradosmann, in which a woman with her back to the camera leads the phtographer by the hand to various exotic destinations all over the world.
Stop bullying, or the girl from The Ring will have to end her vacation early.
This is ironic, because the people from that Instagram account seem like the villains in a John Hughes movie. They're blond, skinny, beautiful, and rich, so they're by far the ones most likely to give you a swirlie on the entire internet.
Taco Bell Has Indiscriminately Mashed The Internet Together In The Hopes You Will Like Something
Taco Bell also has a difficult task in convincing people to be excited about yet another arrangement of bread, cheese, and mostly-meat. So they have studied up on their millennial slang using the most bitchn' of all corporate knowledge-sharing tools: a weekly "word of the week" company-wide email! (Cue guitar riff.) They are creating a "teen advisory board" of hepcats to keep them apprised of current trends. That must be how they came up with taco sleeves emblazoned with sayings from four years ago like "I can't even."
They hire YouTube stars to make endearingly amateurish commercials, and they're making parody local commercials to monetize our natural instinct to look down on car dealerships. But their most transparent cry for millennial attention is a commercial that is unabashedly just a parade of things from the internet, placed behind a quesalupa (half cheese, half FUPA).
It stars internet darling George Takei (I hear this guy's so big on the internet that he might get a cameo in Star Trek) in a room made out of memes reading user tweets about Taco Bell (not about mornings after Taco Bell). It's got heart emojis in his eyes, laser beams, angel wings, and, very confusingly, Takei dressed up as Donald Trump. I don't know which member of the "teen advisory board" suggested that, but they understand the soul of America: None of our ideological differences are as important as selling fried cheese.
It's the perfect example of how Taco Bell's messaging is so, as CEO Brian Niccol put it, "on cleek."
Chevy Treats Millennials Like Neanderthals
Chevy ran an ad in which they asked "real people" to give their thoughts on the new Cruze. The catch? (*Dramatic pause*) They could only answer in emojis. If you need a moment to process that incredible twist, you aren't alone. The blonde girl's mind is blown, as she lets out a wide-eyed "Whoaaa!"
From the reactions of the not-actors, we're apparently meant to think that asking people to communicate through emojis is for some reason taboo or scandalous. As though Chevy is secretly run by Strunk and White, or those two old rich guys from Trading Places.
"LOL, oldz!" -- Chevy, Est. 1911
That's the start of Chevy's "emojis-only" impressions of their car. But because Chevy believes millennials are idiots, they cannot help but also ask each participant to explain exactly what they meant by their emojis. This means that their "emojis-only" commercial becomes a "primarily-not-emojis" commercial. I suppose that is on-brand for Chevy: giving you a crappy, ill-conceived version of what was advertised.
At one point, a participant responds to the car's fuel efficiency with a dozen taco emojis. He is then made to explain this. "Because if it gets 40 miles per gallon, I can buy a lot of tacos!" the man says, somehow still in a commercial and not a modern adaptation of Waiting For Godot. If Chevy actually believes its customers are too stupid to understand that causal relationship, they are under a moral obligation to not let these people behind the wheel.
Without even the thin premise of "millennials are expressing their thoughts in their native language," the commercial becomes a condescending story time, in which we are shown a picture and are then explained the message.
In addition to writing for Cracked, Aaron Kheifets writes for the prestigious website Twitter.
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