Do Millennials Respond To 'Equality-Themed' Ads? Google Says Yes

I like a touchy-feely commercial as much as the next guy, but I remain unconvinced that the kind of longer, more emotional online video ads change my buying habits much. I will not be more likely to buy Dove soap, even though I mostly admire their body image campaign. I still remember that Dove is “one quarter cleansing cream.” And that’s good, too.

But we are, increasingly (and on Facebook) being urged to “like” multinational conglomerates and sometimes they try to convince us their corporate heads are in the right place.

Google asked “young millennials” if they are “more likely to support a brand after seeing an equality-themed ad?” Nearly half (47.4%) said yes, 28.7% said no and 23.9% said they didn’t know.  (Among all age groups, 30% said they would be swayed.)

To Google, this proved a pro-message point. To me, it about half proved a point because more than half were not swayed at all or not noticeably swayed. Google surveys also concluded that 45% of millennials would do repeat business with a LGBT-friendly business and 54% of them would choose an “equality-focused” brand over one that isn’t.

Maybe I expect too much from younger people, but these results seem a little tepid to me.

And I know I may be taking too short of a view. In the big picture, gay issues, like marriage and wedding cakes in Indiana, are not settled. So it is quite possible, and actually quite likely, that some people who would discover a LGBT-friendly business would never go there again. An advertiser does take some risks.

The data was reported on the Think With Google site, which, like the name says, takes little deep dives into YouTube and Google issues and campaigns.

It highlighted two recent commercials. One, from Burger King, introduced the rainbow paper-wrapped “Proud Whopper” that was marketed in San Francisco during Pride Week there.

“Cameras rolled to capture reactions to the burger's release the day of the 2014 Pride Parade,” the Think site relates. “Not surprisingly, BK's pride campaign, the Proud Whopper, and its unique messaging elicited some strong responses—poignant and powerful moments for the brand and its customers. Reaction from its younger customers (the target audience was 18- to 24-year-olds ) was overwhelmingly positive, strong, and emotional.”

The YouTube video received 5.3 million views and received 7M views across all social platforms. It reached 20% of the U.S. population and over-indexed young millennials by 4.8 times, according to the company. Asked in the commercials what he thinks of the idea of a Pride Whopper, one old guy-on-the-street subject answers, “I just don’t believe in the homosexual lifestyle,” followed by a young guy who says, “I think it’s cool.”

Honey Maid crackers featured a commercial with a gay couple and their child as a centerpiece of its “This Is Wholesome” campaign. Google says 98% of the views came from young women, and while the response was positive, there were enough complaints.

So it did a follow up commercial that poignantly addressed them, and all things considered, it was a better idea than the original. It got 4 million YouTube views, and nearly a quarter of them from millennials under 24--not bad for a graham cracker that ended up selling itself as a vehicle for a commercial that seems to be selling “Love” instead.

Despite my idea about these commercials being nice, but not necessarily good at selling anything, Google Think says say Honey Maid’s sales went up 7.7% year-over-year during the campaign, and its penetration among millennials went up, too. I haven’t heard any great trend about millennials or gays visiting Burger King more often. But from what I read, they’re not going to McDonald’s either.
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