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THIRTEEN shows how to reach millennials

News, 23 January 2015

CHICAGO: Channel THIRTEEN, the Public Broadcasting Service's (PBS) station in New York, has successfully shown how smart marketing can help brands with older audiences reach younger consumers.

Oliver Egan, North American head of strategy/partner at The&Partnership, discussed this topic at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) latest Strategy Festival.

Until last summer, he served as head of strategy at CHI & Partners, the agency which spearheaded the "TV Gone Wrong" initiative for Channel THIRTEEN.

And he reported that the average viewer of the station before the campaign started came in at fully 61 years of age.

"That's an age that's been growing over recent years," Egan added. (For more, including the results of this effort, read Warc's exclusive report: How "bogeyman" insights revived New York's public TV station.)

"And younger cohorts are less apt to fill that place and become donators themselves."

Such a situation is especially undesirable given consistent pressure on government funding, meaning the donations made directly by consumers are assuming greater significance than ever.

"Our challenge was to engage the next generation of members by winning the heads, hearts and wallets of 25-45-year-old New Yorkers," said Egan.

This demographic often already pays for cable and satellite services, as well as for streaming services like Netflix. As a consequence, the competition for their money and attention is fierce.

"In a world of almost exponential growth of content options, this audience has an increasingly broad repertoire of content and they're less apt to be prepared to value one content provider over another," Egan said.

In response, THIRTEEN sought to reassert the importance of the cultural and high-quality programming it offers by running a campaign promoting a slate of spoof reality shows.

Rather than adopting a heavy-handed tone, it was thus able to "find an engaging and interesting and arresting way of delivering" the idea, Egan said.

The result included millions of earned media impressions alongside a substantial rise in memberships for the station.

Data sourced from Warc