Monday, August 31, 2009

CNN: An Example in Trying Too Hard to Reach Gen Y

I have seen a lot of good and a lot of bad when it comes to big name companies trying to connect with Gen Y and become more ‘relevant’ to them. Companies have made these changes in a variety of different ways, with the two prominent methods being: rebranding efforts and/or a social media presence.

CNN is a little bit different. They decided to make themselves more relevant to Gen Y by creating new segments. Not a bad idea - in theory. Content that is pertinent to Gen Y should attract Gen Y viewers...right?

The problem does not pertain to the content, but in the branding of the segment. They decided to name the segment after what they perceived to be trendy Gen Y slang. They then have their Gen X and Baby Boomer news anchors painfully using this slang in the segments. The whole thing just comes off unbelievably forced.

The segments are seemingly satirically named: Just Sayin’, Are you kidding me?, and What The...?

The result (besides losing entirely too much credibility in the process) is that CNN gets put on blast by perhaps the most influential and popular news anchor in the eyes of Gen Y, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

Stewart has some excellent jabs at CNN’s “Slangtastic new strategy,” asserting that “they report the news like I talked...when I was a 12 year-old girl.” While some claim that all press is good press, I can only imagine that CNN lost even more credibility in the eyes of Gen Y after Stewart was done with them.

What should CNN have done differently? How about speak to and engage Gen Y intelligently! It should be natural; no need to force it. We may be younger as a generation than their news anchors, but that doesn’t mean we’re unintelligent. There are ways to cover news pieces that are relevant to Gen Y without demeaning us in the process. Just Sayin’ CNN...

--Now let me clear my throat--
Josh Groth

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