Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012, are reshaping the world in their image. Essentially born with a smartphone in their hands, this generation lives and breathes in terms of brand, and you can see this by how effortlessly they present their personal brand online through various social media platforms. They expect brands to appeal to their personalities, values, and interests, and they view the brands they support as an extension of who they are. And with the rate the Gen Z buying power is growing — your brand needs to win their loyalty, now. You can learn more about marketing to Gen Z in our post here — but here are a few Gen Z marketing examples from brands that really nailed it.
Instagram – “We Make Today”
When it comes to examples of Gen Z marketing, nothing is more Gen Z than this recent advertisement from Instagram. “This is a DM,” it begins, and then dives into a spoken-word-esque narrative celebrating the creativity and self-expression of its creators. “This was an opportunity for us to tell our story, tell what we’re all about and what the future of Instagram is,” head of marketing Melissa Waters told Adweek. “An incredible cultural flywheel happens on Instagram every day, and we haven’t really owned that. This is all about our positioning: Instagram is where we push culture forward.”
The campaign did a lot of things right. First, they chose online personalities that members of the Gen Z audience would instantly recognize, and really emphasized user generated content from these personalities. Second, they showcased the way their platform connects people to fight for causes like care about — like sustainability and equal rights. And third, they featured a highly diverse cast, shot in a distinctly authentic social-media-friendly style.
We know from our extensive research on the Gen Z audience that they love “IRL” experiences — and Glossier catered directly to Gen Z’s desire to be spotted in the wild with their first store opening in New York City. Glossier had gained notoriety and a huge following for years before ever establishing a physical presence, but when they did, they chose to go big and it paid off.
What Glossier got right about this brick-and-mortar store launch was that their incredible interior both drew young crowds by the thousands and prompted a share-worthy experience that blew up engagement on social media. Glossier’s pale pink oasis was so on-brand with their skincare aesthetic that customers couldn’t help but share it with the world — who, in turn, put visiting Glossier’s first store on their to-do list.
Under Armour – “Stephen Curry | Will Finds a Way”
This advertising campaign (which started right after the Warriors won the finals) promoted the launch of Under Armour’s Curry Brand, continuing the seven-year relationship the brand had with the Warriors star. The ad serves rapid-fire shots of Steph Curry with a narrative saying things like, “That shimmy he does is so cheesy,” and “If I have to hear one more time about how Steph’s completely changing the game…” The closing shot features a young boy saying, “If you don’t like it, do something about it,” and words, “Ignore the hate. Keep doing you” as the closing title.
There are a few things that stand out in this Gen Z advertising campaign. First, we know from our research that Gen Z’s purchasing decisions are influenced by celebrities — but not just any celebrities. Gen Z cares less about A-list names and far more about online influencers and athletes. Under Armour’s partnership with Curry demonstrates their understanding of the importance of influence marketing. And second, the jump-cuts, upbeat music, and inclusion of communication mediums like FaceTime, texting, and in-video video content shows that Under Armour understands how Gen Z communicates and what media influences them. And finally, the conclusionary statement, “Ignore the Hate”, is a powerful brand message as they take a stand against bullying and haters — one that resonates with the socially-minded Gen Z audience.
Diet Coke – “Drink What Your Mama Gave Ya”
Next up in best Gen Z marketing campaigns is from Diet Coke. Diet Coke’s “Drink What Your Mama Gave Ya” advertisement starts off with two high schoolers in a cafeteria. As one pulls out a Diet Coke, the other sneers, “A Diet Coke? Who are you…. My mom?” The narrator jumps in, saying, “You should be so lucky.” The ad continues with highly stylized shots of moms pulling off what only moms can — pulling together a costume overnight, making the neighborhood kids quake, and ending an argument with the all-powerful words: “I told you so.” Wrapping it up, the ad finishes with: “Everything you’re trying to do, she’s already done, did it better, and she did it with a Diet Coke in her hand.”
This ad’s vintage vibe and synth-driven soundtrack makes this ad highly watchable, and exemplifies a few key Gen Z digital marketing best practices. The first? Young consumers love streaming videos, and this ad comes across more like a video you would choose to watch than an ad break. Second, Gen Z is the most diverse generation to date and they expect nothing less than diverse representation from the brands they support — and Diet Coke provided that.
Adidas – “Create the Answer”
“Make some noise”. This advertisement from Adidas for the World Cup 2018 opens with a deafening stadium crowd cheering and flashes through 56 of the world’s most influential creators across sport culture, including Leo Messi, Caroline Wozniacki, Karlie Kloss, Pharrell Williams, and Gabriel Jesus. “The world needs an answer. Creativity is the answer. Put your own spin on things.”
This ad encourages creators across sport culture to be courageous, unexpected, and to shape their own reality — a message that resonates highly with the independent, entrepreneurial, and creative Gen Z audience.
AXE – “#PraiseUp”
This quick, 10-second social media clip shows Kyle Lowry and Marcus Stroman (Toronto sports stars) explaining how to participate in the branded challenge, #PraiseUp — a challenge that consists of sneaking up behind a friend, passing on a compliment, and posting the video on social media with the hashtag. This campaign originated from research conducted by Axe Canada and designed to promote inclusivity, challenge stereotypes about how “real men” act, and the expression of traditional gender roles.
And this campaign did an excellent job. By drawing on customer intelligence and research, Axe was able to demonstrate insight into their target audience, deepen its connection with Gen Z consumers, and increase positive brand sentiment. Additionally, their use of a social media challenge paired with a branded hashtag created a virality that enabled the campaign to achieve stand-out engagement from their audience.
Learn more about marketing to Gen Z
Marketing to Gen Z isn’t just important – winning over your Gen Z customers is crucial for your business’ long-term success. Luckily, understanding and influencing this customer base isn’t hard – it just takes the right marketing strategy. Contact us today to get your target Gen Z marketing plan.