“Millennials understand genuine companies”: A Panelist’s (and Millennial) Perspective on AAF Thought Leadership 2011

As I’m sure everyone who participated in yesterday’s Millennial Perspectives in Advertising panel will agree, it was an incredibly insightful and wide-ranging discussion!

For one thing, it provided an excellent platform for us (the advertising industry) to begin debunking some of the common misperceptions that exist about Millennials in the workplace: “Millennials have a poor work ethic” (read: we’re lazy); “Millennials have short attention spans” (read: we’re unfocused). This list goes on and on. But as yesterday’s student participants pointed out, it’s time to stop applying negative adjectives to those traits that differentiate us from other generations simply because they are just that: different. Instead of lazy and unfocused, try tech-savvy and entrepreneurial. Let’s face it, it’s not all about the 9-to-5 anymore. It would behoove companies and brands to embrace this fact.

Perhaps my favorite part of the panel was a discussion about how Millennials seek to leverage their consumerism in benevolent ways and expect brands to be authentic in this pursuit. “Millennials understand genuine companies,” one student pointed out. “We’re not looking for [brands] to blow smoke up our…” another student reported. If anything, it was certainly an authentic and unfiltered discussion.

One thing that surprised me about yesterday, which I had a chance to raise on the Executive Panel at McCann New York towards the end of the evening, was that there was hardly any mention of diversity and inclusion as it relates to people with disabilities or other factors that might limit their participation, like language. When it comes to the advertising industry, diversity and inclusion should have as much to do with what we’re putting out as what we’re bringing in. In real terms, this mean developing content and platforms that are multilingual, localized, and accessible to the hearing and sight impaired. Fodder for next year’s discussion, which I encourage everyone to attend!

Search #thoughtleadership to see the entire discussion as it unfolded on Twitter and follow @AAFNational and @mccann_wg to join the conversation!

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