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The most cringeworthy examples of brands pandering to millennials

'How do you do, fellow kids?'


Gabe Bergado

Internet Culture

Posted on Nov 27, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 2:23 pm CDT

Brands are more desperate than ever to get the plugged-in youth to buy their products. They start ill-conceived Snapchat accounts and drop terms like “bae” in their advertising copy. Marketers have been seized by millennial mania. But their attempts to connect with the tweeting, Instagramming, and snapping generation are far from being “on fleek.”

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Thankfully, there’s a place on Reddit dedicated to capturing all these sad brand bellyflops for our enjoyment: r/FellowKids. It’s described as “a subreddit to showcase examples of advertisements and media that totally appeal to the radical youth of today. Cowabunga!” 

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Emojis at the top help filter hot posts from rising ones; a rainbow of colors decorate the layout; hashtags are liberally sprinkled across the page. And the community’s inspiration is none other than the famous Steve Buscemi scene in 30 Rock where he talks about his past life as a cop who infiltrated high schools and greeted students by asking, “How do you do, fellow kids?” 

Posts range from emails using outdated pop culture references to Facebook ads mismatching slang and the products being sold. Take, for example, this PayPal email with 2004 Jay-Z lyrics for the subject line and Modell’s Sporting Goods using a very off-brand “YASSSS!”

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So swaggy

The subreddit also has some guidelines in place regarding the “swaggy content” that’s cleared for fellow kids to enjoy. For the most part, there has to be evidence that “the man” is pandering to the youth. Ads without “the man” or from places that actually get millennial marketing (i.e., Taco Bell) are barred from this space. Here’s some advice from the moderators on whether a submission will fit in the subreddit:

Just ask yourself: “Are they trying too hard to cross a generation gap? Does this feel pandering? Does it feel inauthentic?” And remember, there’s a difference between these things and an annoying, wack pile of crap. Your post doesn’t have to be cringeworthy to be welcome here!

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This isn’t the first place on the Internet to document companies thirsting for youngsters. There’s @BrandsSayingBae, a Twitter account that’s exactly what it sounds like—although it mysteriously went inactive August. Corporations will do almost anything to get into millennial’s wallets, but it seems all they’ve pried out of the demographic so far is hearty, mocking laughter. 

Screenshot via 30 Rock/Netflix

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*First Published: Nov 27, 2015, 11:00 am CST