United States: Millennial Engagement: Marketing's New Trick Shot

Sports and marketing have come a long way since a young Pittsburgh Steelers fan offered Mean Joe Green a Coke in the classic 1979 television commercial. For one thing, the audience has changed. The oldest millennials were just being born in the late 70s, but now comprise one quarter of the U.S. population. Highly coveted by advertisers, millennials are often painted as fickle beasts. New data, however, challenges that notion. In fact, according to a pair of new studies, millennials are the most brand-loyal generation of all. This makes it all the more important for brands to get an early foothold with these prized consumers.

One entity helping brands pull off that difficult trick is Whistle Sports. This booming digital network was built on the insight that while some things have changed since 1979—like the way kids consume media—our love of sports hasn't. Since launching in 2014, Whistle Sports has brought together a network of more than 400 creators of sports-related content, from the NBA's Jeremy Lin, to the trick shot artists collectively known as Dude Perfect. The network reaches 213 million people across its various social media platforms, where its content has gained 9 billion views. Last year it raised $20 million in C-round funding, and if any deal truly signaled its arrival, it was last fall's partnership with the National Football League.

How I See It

  • There is a lot of conventional wisdom about the millennial generation, but it should all be taken with a grain of salt—if not viewed skeptically. The recent surveys indicating that millennials are more loyal to brands than other generations is just one example of how the millennial generation doesn't always fit the mold we have created for it.
  • Whistle was ahead of the curve in understanding that the way we consume sports-related media is changing. And by growing its huge presence on social media platforms where many millennials spend time, it is forging highly valuable connections with an elusive audience.

How the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Jeff Urban, President at Whistle Sports, to hear more about this marketing juggernaut.

How do you select content creators to add to your network? Is it simply a matter of how large their social media following is, or something more than that?

While we certainly look at reach and viewership, it goes far beyond just the overall size of a creator's social media following. We're very selective in whom we work with, first and foremost vetting for overall brand safety. Being safe for all ages is a foundational component of our company and a mandatory qualification. From there we look at a creator's viability to integrate brands within their content, the size and scope of their overall library for distribution, then their potential for original production.

How have your creators been effective at incorporating brand messages into their videos without compromising their "authenticity," which is thought to be important to millennials?

The first key to being authentic in branded content is to be upfront with the consumer about the fact that a brand sponsor is behind the message. Whistle Sports, our creators, and the FTC are all on the same page on this issue, as millennial consumers hate to feel "duped" into viewing branded content.

A second key is to be thoughtful about which platforms and channels the branded content is being distributed on – what works to integrate a brand on Instagram might not work on YouTube, for instance.

A third key is to produce the creative in a style that fits with the other content that's on the creator's channel if that's where we're distributing it. That doesn't mean the content should appear low-fi or unprofessional, just that we recognize that consumers are following that particular channel because they like that specific type of content, and to deviate from it significantly is to risk alienating them. Our creators have very high levels of engagement on their social channels and it is incumbent on Whistle Sports to help them keep it that way when we partner with them to produce content for brands.

Have your partnerships with major sports leagues given you more credibility with advertisers?

These partnerships have undoubtedly increased our credibility with advertisers. The sports leagues are known and trusted entities with brands, and to have their co-sign is a powerful vote of confidence for Whistle Sports, particularly as a media brand that many marketing executives might not follow themselves because they've aged out of our demographic.

Our brand and agency partners are also used to seeing all manner of pitches from media partners that attempt to skirt around the leagues in order to leverage consumer passion for professional sports. For Whistle Sports to be able to walk in and talk about our ability to actually partner with the leagues to produce content without those same limitations that tend to hamper authenticity is enormously powerful.

What's one thing that brands don't understand about the millennial generation?

The most common misconception we see is brands that believe millennial is a synonym for "young." Whistle Sports' primary audience consists of both the millennial and centennial generations, spanning roughly from age 13-34. Older millennials are in their mid-thirties and have substantially different sports content consumption preferences than younger millennials or centennials. They didn't grow up with smartphones and social media like those in their teens and twenties – they learned how to use these devices and platforms in adulthood.

Younger millennials have more in common with centennials than older millennials for this reason; they are likelier to go to social media for game highlights and watch the game with a second screen in their hand, for instance.

Your company has grown very rapidly. Where do you see it going in the next five years?

In the social/digital space, the ecosystem is changing, morphing and adapting so rapidly that the winners will be those that can adjust to platform demands, pivot with and to the new platforms and maintain a fresh brand voice as the ecosystem evolves. Our aim is to be that brand and that voice.

What is the most interesting object in your office?

A BIG GONG!! Situated right in the middle of the New York City office, we bang it when we hit a big milestone, close a big deal, or welcome a new partner to the team!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.