Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 08 - Generation V

An entirely new generation of people has been born. This generation is not defined by age, gender or social standing, but by their use of digital media channels. Adam Sarner, principal analyst at Gartner, has dubbed this disparate group of individuals Generation V.

In a recent interview with Sarner described Generation V as a segment of the population “empowered by the democratisation of technology and new means of communication.”

According to Sarner, “Gen V have an increasing preference toward the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights." Which sounds good, but what does he mean exactly?

In essence, Sarner is talking about people who maintain an online profile of some sort “To communicate across the boundaries of time and geography, create and distribute original content, and/or collaborate with one another.”

As a fortysomething blogger, and regular contributor to a variety of online discussions and conversations, I guess that makes me a member of Gen V.

Strangely, at least in my eyes, many of the young people looking to break into the advertising and marketing industries are not part of this generation. Sure they’re regular users of the likes of Facebook and MySpace, but how many uni students are dabbling in Social Media?

Greg Verdino, from US based new marketing company Crayon, had this to say about students he’d met whilst giving talks on Social Media at several American universities:

“Many weren't even aware of blogging and podcasting; even fewer were actually doing one or the other themselves. I was teaching them about what they are, how and why people use them, and where they may be going over the coming decade or two.

Were these students typical of their (age-based) generation? I have no idea. But given that we're talking about several different groups of students at several different well known universities, I suspect they are not exceptions to the rule.”

Of course there are plenty of kids out there with the smarts to not only get involved with social media, but also the ability to use it to help them in their career. In fact, the idea for the column came from a couple of blog posts and emails that I exchanged with young Aussie marketer and Monash Uni student, Julian Cole.

Julian is one of a handful of students at Monash who actively write about and critique marketing and advertising. One of his fellow students, 18 year old Zac Martin, is a regular commenter on my blog. I’m sure there are many others. If you’re a student blogger, why not send me an email?

During my brief tenure on the teaching staff at RMIT University, I introduced advertising students to the idea of using a blog to help you get your first job. Only a handful of them maintained their blogs for more than a few months, but I’m pleased to say that those that did have all since gained employment.

Over in the UK, there are quite a few wannabe advertising creatives who blog. These blogs make for an interesting read, as the kids document the trials and tribulations of trying to secure a job in the toughest ad market in the world.

My personal favourite is Gwen Yip, a Hong Kong native who documents each and every day of her London job search with cute little drawings of the people she meets and the situations she finds her self in. It’s always worth a visit.

The most brazen use of digital media to get noticed in the advertising industry belongs to Sam Ismail, who has set a new standard for creativity and initiative in getting noticed to get a job.

Sam, like many young hopefuls, had his interest tweaked by an ad for an internship at Saatchi & Saatchi in London. The headline on the ad read; Turn this poster into a job.

Unlike all the other kids who saw the ad, Sam didn’t start dreaming up advertising concepts. Instead he came up with a big idea. A really big idea. He listed the internship on eBay.

He then seeded his idea, by leaving comments on advertising and blogs about Saatchi offering a job to the highest bidder in an eBay auction.

As you can imagine, this stunt got people talking. So much so, that if you do a search for it on Google, you’ll find over 8,000 page references.

Campaign magazine contacted Saatchis about the auction, so Ismail got in touch with the editor and told them what he had done. Next thing he knew, he got a phone call from a Saatchi legal eagle threatening to sue him!

Suffice to say the story has a happy ending. Sam met dozens of influential people in the industry. He got noticed and talked about. And most importantly he landed himself a job. Proof, if it was needed, that Generation V are the future of our industry.


Greg Verdino

Gwen Yip

Julian Cole

Sam Ismail


k-a-t-e said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
k-a-t-e said...

Hi - first of all, I enjoy reading your monthly piece in MM and this one in particular provided some food for thought!

Whilst I think it is important for any student to keep abreast of current trends and issues in their designated discipline via blogging or leaving comments here and there around the blogosphere, I think it is a little naive to think that blogging would secure someone a job. Or that students should jump on a 'Gen V' bandwagon to avoid perishing in comparison to others who have.

Surely the students which secured employment after maintaining a blog, would have found that same employment at the end of the period anyway? How valuable are blogging and vodcasting skills actually to an employer as opposed to the ability to undertake the tasks on hand?

Perhaps social media is overrated as a recruitment tool, as from what I can observe it has made no real change on hiring procedures.

(Edit: Reposted)

Stan Lee said...

Hi Kate, thanx for stopping by and joining the conversation.

My piece was not about students blogging, it was about being involved in and aware of social media.

David MacGregor said...


I taught design students about marcomms at Massey University in Auckland for three years. I ended the gig at the start of this year - in part out of frustration about the lack of awareness my students had about what was going on in the world around them. I set a large group assignment (to establish an online TV channel for the design school - brand, content, online delivery and marketing with no budget) - to determine the each student's individual contribution I asked that they blog about their experience - what they did, what they learned, what they would do differently. I'd say more than half had never knowingly read a blog, if they had they did not realise how accessible the technology was and most simply couldn't be bothered to maintain the data consisitently - date stamping means you can cram the whole thing into the last few days before the deadline. I was disappointed with the outcome. But the insight I gained was that many universities are not including new media directions into courses. Many design degrees are focused on aesthetics, rather than communication and there are many graduates who will never be much more than decorators or mac operators. Even advertising grads regard the web as a wat for them to showcase their 'creativity' in the form of virtuoso mookishness under the guise of creating a 'viral' campaign, rather than having a meaningful conversation of sorts with people who might find the information useful to them.

Bottom line, I would never make an assumption that a student or recent graduate of a design programme is especially qualified to communicate with their peers, let alone anyone else. Sure, they may have a Bebo account - but look over their shoulder and see what they are using it for - in most cases it is not sharing ideas that might make a blind bit of difference - more a case of V for venal.

Gavin Heaton said...

When I was hiring for my team, you didn't even get an interview if you didn't have some form of social media profile.

An active social media profile demonstrates (to me at least) curiosity, an ability to converse (and not just write a pithy line or two) and self-motivation. And hopefully in there I will also find a spark of personality and a creative engagement with the shifting relationships that we all have with brands.