Last week stock image and video licensers, Dissolve, released a brilliant video designed to demonstrate the simple formula marketeers use to appeal to millennials (those born roughly between 1980 and 2000). Here it is:

It’s funny, on point and a great advertisement for their library of stock video. However, it also strikes on an important lesson for businesses and nonprofits trying to engage with young people: get it wrong and you will be mocked.

The video makes light of the funds poured in market research and focus groups in order to work out how to communicate with these elusive millennials. This, of course, is no bad thing – good research will produce good insights. However, if you really want to connect with young people then the smartest thing you can do is to get young people to do it for you.

That’s why Vodafone impressed me this week too. Despite operating in a market saturated with smartphone-dependent young people, they understood that their brand wasn’t connecting with young people. So, teaming up with Ogilvy & Mather, they got young people to co-create a sub-brand for a new youth focused network.

Voxi, derived from the Latin for voice, launched at a secret gig at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch and will offer sim-only unlimited data deals aimed at under 25s.

I have no idea whether or not the business idea will be a success. But I am confident that, having involved young people in the creation of the brand, it has a much better chance of connecting with their target audience than had they tried to keep up with the latest trends themselves.

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