You’ve probably heard of Billie Eilish (that's not her above, read on for more). She’s the 18-year-old American singer-songwriter who wrote and recorded her music in her bedroom and then went on to sell over 37m records and win just about every music prize in existence.
She’s the personification of a successful GenZer, so when we heard she was tying up with Deutsche Telekom we figured just maybe she would have to soften her normally deadpan stance and toe the corporate line. But, in a sign of where things are heading now, it was she who clearly set the parameters of what the corporate advert would include.
It’s a showcase of GenZ talent and also a neat little turnaround for those who grumble that kids today do nothing other than stare at their screens, distracted, disturbed, disconnected from the world.
Instead the ad shows how they connect, how they empower, and how they shape the future. It may not be visible to grumbling seniors watching, but they’re creating ‘stuff’ just as much as they’re looking at the latest TikTok video – or at least until TikTok gets banned, as seems likely, in more countries.
The ad features half a dozen of the most influential GenZers and their sheer breadth of ability does give pause for thought. Of course, there are the music stars, everyone from Billie herself to Warsaw-based DJ Leo S. And, naturally, there are the environmental campaigners, everywhere from Greece to Germany.
And then there is Anna Laura Kummer. She runs The Slow Label, which attempts to change the fashion industry, which is notoriously profligate with materials, resources and other people’s money. Fast fashion goes slow, planet-friendly and environmentally conscious. But the clothes still look great for GenZers.
In case you think that’s just an example of GenZers talking to – and selling to – themselves, consider Jahkini Bisselink (that's her, at the top). At 20, she now runs Jahkini Consultancy, which advises corporations on how to bridge generational divides and ensure meaningful relationships with younger people. But when she was just 18 she began working at the United Nations as Holland’s youth representative. She researched, gave speeches and hosted events to represent GenZ, often to considerably older technocrats and bureaucrats.
Hot quote from Jahkini Bisselink: ‘Older people think in nations, younger people think in generations. That gives me a lot of hope for the future.’
Just to accentuate how this group has a hard edge, there is Philipp Kalweit. He’s a hacker. That is, of course, an annoying sentence. However, this 20-year-old German is a famous IT security expert which means he’s also a formidable hacker. He started advising companies about their IT security when he was 16, and now runs Kalweit ITS, his consulting company.
All of his employees are older than himself.
Check out their work in the video ad. Perhaps we need a reset next time we see some young person on their phone. Just as much as we need a reset in thinking how we’re going to change the world in the future. We’re not. They already are.
GenZ Insight: How To Make Your Organisation A GenZ Magnet
Authors: Graham Scott and Guy Ellis
Publisher: The Message Medium
Pagination: 132 pages
Price: print £14.99 ($19.99); ebook £9.99 ($9.99)
Publication date: 31 July 2020
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Ellenor McIntosh, co-founder of Twipes, is an award-winning Forbes ‘30 Under 30’