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Adolescent - the company by the youth, for the youth

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MUMBAI: Marketing to teens, youth and generation Z (teens between the ages of 13-15) is now more important than ever. Gen Z has a spending power of $250 billion. Every marketing and advertising campaign should now aim to reach the coveted and soon-to-be-powerful gen Z consumer audience because of their attachment and comfort with using social media. They are also more technically aligned as compared to previous generations.

It isn’t unusual for people above 30 years to be deciding the content for all age groups, especially when it comes to understanding their thought pattern. An ideal way would be to have the younger generation create ads based on their own likes and preferences.

That is exactly what a gen-Z and millennial advertising agency and production company, Adolescent, has been doing. The company is focused on authentically reaching out to the teen and youth audiences with commercial and entertainment-driven content made by the youth and for the youth. Adolescent functions as a traditional production company as well as a think tank for ad agencies, ideating and executing concepts for print, broadcast, branded content videos and original series.

Founded in 2013 by Ramaa Mosley and based in Los Angeles, California, the company works with national brands and advertising agencies to help them grab the attention of the youth. It has clients across multiple industries including fast food, soft drinks, entertainment, underage drinking, consumer packaged goods, candy and toys. Some of those multi-million dollar clients are Deutsch, Mini Cooper, Netflix, Nike, TOMS, Disney, Beats music, Bud Light, American Girl, Diesel, Samsung, ESPN and Yowie.

Standing true to its vision, the ad direction is 15-year-old Amelia Conway, a content creator who works on multi-million dollar projects with brands such as Netflix and Target. She feels that age should not be a barrier here since only similar aged people can relate to each other. Adolescent has over 500 creators in the network which represents teens from over 20 different countries.

How accepting is the industry of a teen creative agency in the cluttered adult show? Conway says it is improving but the industry remains male-dominated. “I see very few working women on set and I hope to make the difference,” she says.

Handing over a $500,000 shoot to a 15-year-old is obviously a concern for producers. Conway laughs it off saying it doesn’t bother her. “It’s new for them so they may worry but I will get it done whether they like it or not,” she adds.

The young consumer consumes advertising and content across Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Adolescent creates social media content that is created specifically for these platforms. It has also developed youth market research and children’s marketing research. The youth and gen Z market in the United States is worth $485 billion. Adolescent analyses attitudes and lifestyles of the 42 million young consumers in the 15 to 24-year-old age group and develops specific marketing and promotions strategies.

Conway says that there is a fine difference between honest and fake content. “Genuinity is very important to kids, youth and adolescents. Most advertisers think that if they put millions of dollars on a clever idea, that some people like in a room like, it will work for the adolescents. But it doesn’t. What does work is content that is entertaining, empowering and collaborated with them,” she adds.

The company usually hires actors and other professionals on the sets (mostly teenagers) via regular casting calls with help from the client. Parents are also on set for any children under the age of 18 and Adolescent makes sure it adheres to all labour laws.

An aspiring future feature film director, Conway was a victim of bullying before she started her career as a director at Adolescent, and it has shaped her mental personality. The company has given her the opportunity to be a better person professionally and a more confident person. Although she has directed six campaigns so far, she admits getting the teenager jitters on set when she’s surrounded by professionals who have been doyens of the industry.

Conway’s advice to her peers would be to just go for it! “It’s simple and basic, but true. If you’re passionate about something, who cares if you are not going to do it for the rest of your life? Waiting till you’re older is not worth it.”

She’s surely defying her age norms at 15. One can only wonder what she would be doing 15 years down the line.

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