Social messages win over a teenage audience

Communicating to a younger generation with an authentic voice can be difficult to achieve. The Conservative Party is trying to get its messages across to that hard-to-reach youth audience via online music service Spotify. Its 40-second ad features party chairman Eric Pickles talking about the issue of debt and then telling Spotify listeners to “vote Tory”.

While some are debating whether Spotify is really an appropriate medium for political promotion, research shows that teenagers do want to hear important social messages rather than the drivel that many spout in an attempt to “get down with the kids”.

Integrity and sincerity are much more important to this generation of teenagers, compared to previous generations, according to consumer behaviour consultancy RISC international.

Teenagers are aware of the impact they have on the environment, with two thirds of teenagers believing that the way they shop has an impact on the world, compared to just over half of 20 to 24-year-olds.

RISC International also warns brands not to use social media to talk “at” teenagers with their brand messages. There has to be a dialogue involved, rather than simply a broadcast. There has to be something engaging to draw in young consumers.

Mobile brand Orange already appears to be ahead of this research, by communicating with teenagers about the importance of contributing to society. It gave away Rockcorps tickets to a gig in exchange for young people taking part in some voluntary work.

Charity encourages young people to make a difference. MTV has also teamed up with COI with an initiative called “show us what you’re made of” to get young people to talk honestly about knife crime.

What the RISC International research shows is that there is desire for such projects. It claims that brands need authentic social values to win the trust of teenagers. So perhaps Pickles with his message about the perils of debt won’t be ignored.

The Tories will be hoping that teenagers will view this as an authentic message and not just a cynical ploy to get young people on side, just in time for the next general election.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here