Tina Wells
CEO, Buzz Marketing

Headlines and Info:

These days, teens are growing up in a digitized and exciting ad world where U2 promotes their iPods, McDonald’s gets them to see Star Wars and an EverQuest II video game delivers them Pizza Hut. But with all these branded entertainment campaigns, what’s working and what is doomed to turn off the savvy teen today?

Tina Wells makes it her business to tune into teens and find out what makes them tick — or click — at Buzz Marketing Group, which she started at 16-years-old. Recognized as a young entrepreneur and profiled in Oprah’s “O” September cover story, “Your First Million”, she helps us tap into the teen market and lists 10 tips every brand should know to craft youth-focused, buzz-worthy branded entertainment programs.

1. Know what’s hot.
Teens are passionate about the following: Electronics and entertainment; iPod accessories; Target, the place to be seen; NetFlix, which is gaining momentum over Blockbuster; “Laguna Beach”, the only must-see TV show for teens.

2. Pick music over film any day.
Music is something that does not have a shelf life of three weeks. Looking at music versus films, films are great, but there is a buzz about a film for three weeks and then it goes away. The buzz about an album that can last for a year or more.

3. Turn off the TV.
TV is something that is in the background for teens as they are IM’ing with friends or doing other things. TV is “there” and present, and is something they pay attention to, but it does not define who they are.

4. Get into their social networks.
89% of the 200 kids that Buzz Marketing Group spoke to said they were fine when friends send them info about products through “My Space”, but on the flip side, 92% of them were not fine when advertised to directly on “My Space”.

5. Integrate causes that matter.
Cause marketing is very important to teens. They care about changing and improving the world for the better.

6. Let them explore and discover.
Wells calls teens the “Google Generation” because “Google” is more than a search to them. It’s a window to things that they may not have gotten to so easily before.

7. Give them the tools to customize and document.
Young people are really big on owning their own universe, being able to document it and share it with friends, which is why uploading photos or writing music are big trends.

8. Keep them communicating and connecting.
Teens are creating their own community or “pods,” as Wells likes to call it. Instead of just having a big group of trendy friends, young people exist in their own “pods,” mixing and mingling.

9. Find them on their cell phones.
Since teens are on their cell phones more than ever, Wells is moving a lot of her traditional research practices to be cell phone based.

10. Be funny, cool and on the Internet.
The company called “Jib-Jab” is a great example. Teens sent its sites around to their friends right away, because it was the funniest thing they had seen.