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Grand Macs, Pokemon, and Marketing to Millennials through Digital and Social Channels

For Fremont digital marketing degree students, this article from Business Insider is a must read:
In this article, Dennis Green describes how the introduction of the “Grand Mac” (a larger than usual Big Mac offered for a limited time at McDonalds) is a masterpiece of nostalgia marketing. This is an important and often ignored marketing and advertising tool, especially in the age of Millennial Marketing.

An initial reaction to the Grand Mac might be to scorn the choice made by McDonald’s to release it at all. After all, McDonald’s has only recently emerged from the Super Size controversy and has spent the last decade attempting to rehabilitate its menu and image by offering healthier choices. Why would it decide to release a calorie bomb like an oversized Big Mac?  Isn’t this a marketing and public relations disaster?  In the age of digital and social media, won’t McDonald’s get eviscerated for this choice?  Surprisingly, the answer is no.
Green explains that the Grand Mac is a subtle marketing ploy to subconsciously make a call to the nostalgic impulse of Millennial customers. Research has shown that this particular demographic has a strong affinity for nostalgia, as evidenced by its obsession with everything retro and old school. Imagine these grown-up Millennials as kids. The Big Mac was a right of passage for them. The graduation from the small hamburger Happy Meal to the “big kid” Big Mac was an indication of their age. When they had one for the first time, it likely seemed HUGE and overwhelming. It was an accomplishment to be able to actually finish the sandwich. Fast-forward to today and the grow- up Millennials have a host of local, artisan, and sustainable food choices.
In addition to that, a Big Mac no longer seems like such a big deal. It is basically two little burgers stacked on top of each other. Why would they go to McDonald’s for a little burger that isn’t from a sustainable, local, organic, gluten-free farm?  The answer: Nostalgia. When a 20-something Millennials sit in front of Grand Macs, they are not thinking of food or calories, what they are thinking of is being a kid again and being overwhelmed by the size of the sandwich. They are subconsciously reminded of happy times in their lives, so they keep coming back, not necessarily for the food or the taste, but to feel like a kid again. This is total genius.
How does this apply to digital marketing?  It provides insight into the inner workings of one of the largest advertising spenders in the world. When you are crafting your social media and digital strategy, it would be wise to try and emulate the tactic used by McDonald’s with the Grand Mac.
The first important take away for digital marketers is that Millennials respond to nostalgia. To Millennials, the world today is chaotic and dangerous, whereas when they were kids the world was safe, easy to understand and full of hope. Another example of this is the runaway success of Pokemon Go. The largest demographic of Pokemon Go players is 18-29. Consider this: adults are playing a cartoon game that is not very challenging. Why? It is reminiscent of their childhood. This is not a mistake or a happy coincidence. Nintendo, like McDonald’s, spends millions on market research, which concludes nostalgia increases sales.
The second takeaway for digital marketers is the power of an ad or campaign does not always exist in the actual product; the power is in the emotion it evokes. When crafting your Millennial-targeted campaigns, be sure to use the power of Pathos, or the emotional appeal. Many times in digital marketing we see marketers make the mistake of going with Logos, or the logical appeal. There are a lot of statistics, numbers, calorie counts, and reasoned arguments, but these are nowhere near as effective as the visceral emotional appeal, as is seen with the Grand Mac and Pokemon Go.
Give Green’s article a thorough read for more advice on how to utilize this appeal to nostalgia to create successful digital marketing campaigns that target and convert the coveted Millennial audience.
Are you looking to become a successful digital marketer?
Are you ready to take a step to start a new career path, or further become upwardly mobile in your current career?  Want to learn how to create successful digital marketing campaigns, working with SEO, PPC, social media, and email marketing among other techniques?  Find out how Fremont University can help!  Apply to our College of Marketing to see if you qualify.
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