Frederik Van Lierde

Winning Over the Ad-Averse Generation

Tired of your ads being ignored? Discover how to capture the attention of young, ad-averse consumers with genuine engagement and innovative strategies! Winning Over the Ad-Averse Generation
Young people who naturally avoid ads often sees through the usual sales pitches and gimmicks, opting instead for authenticity and genuine engagement. How do brands connect with an audience that might already be skeptical of marketing? The key lies in understanding their values and meeting them on their playground.

1. Authenticity

First things first: ditch the salesy tone. Young consumers value honesty and transparency above all else. They can spot a disingenuous campaign from a mile away and will appreciate a brand that stands by its products or services without over-the-top claims. Show real people using your product in real-life scenarios. User-generated content and honest reviews can work wonders here.


Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company, approach to marketing focuses on sustainability, environmental responsibility, and honest communication, which resonates strongly with consumers, especially the younger demographic who prioritize these values.

  1. Transparent Supply Chain:
    Patagonia is open about where and how their products are made, providing detailed information about the factories, the materials used, and the environmental impact. This transparency builds trust and credibility among consumers who care about the ethics of their purchases.
  2. Advocacy for Environmental Causes:
    More than just selling products, Patagonia is known for its activism in environmental conservation. They've pledged 1% of their sales to the preservation and restoration of natural environments and regularly engage in campaigns to raise awareness about environmental issues. This advocacy reinforces their brand's authenticity as they put their money where their mouth is.
  3. Encouraging Responsible Consumption:
    In an unconventional move for a retail company, Patagonia once ran an ad campaign telling consumers, "Don't Buy This Jacket," urging them to consider the environmental impact of their purchases and to buy only what they needed. This approach was aimed at reducing waste and promoting sustainable consumer habits, showcasing their commitment to the environment over profit.
  4. User-Generated Content and Real-Life Stories:
    Patagonia's marketing often features stories of real people engaging in outdoor activities with their gear. They highlight customer stories and user-generated content, which provides a relatable and authentic view of their products in action. This not only promotes a realistic portrayal of their products but also builds a community around shared values and lifestyles.

2. Social Media

It's no secret that social media is a playground for young people, but it's not just about being present—it's about how you engage. Instead of bombarding them with ads, create content that they can interact with and share.

Think fun polls, engaging videos, and maybe even memes if they fit your brand. Collaborations with influencers who genuinely resonate with your target demographic can also provide a more organic reach.


Founded on the principle of beauty in real life, Glossier has built its brand through social platforms by emphasizing authenticity and interactive content that appeals to young consumers.
  1. Community-Focused Approach:
    Glossier’s strategy centers around building a community of loyal followers. They frequently engage their audience with questions, feedback requests, and interactive content. This approach not only keeps their followers engaged but also makes them feel like an integral part of the brand's development.
  2. User-Generated Content:
    Glossier often shares user-generated content on its platforms, showcasing real customers using their products. This not only provides social proof but also celebrates their community, encouraging more customers to share their own content in hopes of being featured on Glossier’s prominent social media pages.
  3. Influencer Collaborations:
    Rather than opting for traditional celebrity endorsements, Glossier collaborates with micro-influencers and everyday beauty enthusiasts who genuinely use and love their products. These influencers resonate more authentically with their audience, providing a more relatable and trustworthy promotion.
  4. Engaging, Shareable Content:
    From launching new products with interactive Instagram stories to using polls on social media to gather customer opinions, Glossier creates content that is not only engaging but also highly shareable. Their use of aesthetically pleasing visuals and relatable captions helps increase their content's visibility and shareability.
  5. Meme Marketing:
    Glossier understands the power of humor and incorporates memes and playful content that fits their brand image. This lighter, more relatable approach helps them maintain a fun and approachable online presence, encouraging more engagement from a demographic that appreciates humor and doesn’t always want to be sold to directly.

3. Offer Value Beyond the Product

What does your brand stand for? More young consumers are aligning themselves with companies that have strong, positive social impacts. Whether it's sustainability, mental health, or social justice, showing that your brand cares about these issues can help form a deeper connection.

Initiatives like charitable donations or transparent business practices that highlight your commitment to these values can set you apart.

Ben & Jerry

Ben & Jerry's, the renowned ice cream company, extends its influence beyond just selling products to making significant social impacts. Known for its commitment to numerous social justice issues, Ben & Jerry’s has positioned itself as a leader in corporate activism, resonating powerfully with young consumers who seek to support brands that reflect their values.
  1. Strong Stance on Social Issues:
    Ben & Jerry’s doesn't shy away from taking a stand on global and local issues, including racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental sustainability. Their vocal support for these causes through their platforms has fostered a deep sense of trust and alignment among consumers who prioritize these issues.
  2. Sustainability Initiatives:
    They have implemented environmentally friendly practices in their production processes and actively promote global environmental sustainability. This includes using fair trade-certified ingredients and non-GMO products, reducing waste, and supporting sustainable agricultural practices. These initiatives demonstrate their commitment to the planet, which is highly valued by environmentally conscious consumers.
  3. Community and Charitable Contributions:
    Ben & Jerry’s supports various community projects and charities. Through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, they provide grants to grassroots activism and community organizing projects. This philanthropy showcases their dedication to making a positive impact beyond just profit-making.
  4. Educational Campaigns:
    The company uses its platform to educate its consumers on important issues, such as climate change and social equity. They often partner with nonprofit organizations to amplify their impact and reach a wider audience, integrating educational content with engaging marketing campaigns.
  5. Transparency in Business Practices:
    Ben & Jerry's is open about its business practices, regularly publishing updates on its social impact initiatives and progress towards sustainability goals. This transparency builds credibility and shows a genuine commitment to their values, distinguishing them in the marketplace.

4. Create Experiences, Not Just Ads

Experience-based marketing is another effective way to engage young consumers. This could be anything from an online concert to a pop-up event or an interactive online workshop.

These experiences provide not just another product pitch but a memorable event that can foster positive associations with your brand.

Red Bull

Red Bull sets a dynamic standard for experience-based marketing, effectively engaging young consumers not merely as spectators but as active participants in their brand story.

Known primarily for its energy drinks, Red Bull transcends traditional advertising by creating thrilling events and experiences that resonate deeply with its audience.
  1. Signature Events:
    Red Bull is synonymous with high-energy sports and music events. From the Red Bull Air Race to the Red Bull Music Academy, the company sponsors and creates a range of events that attract a young, enthusiastic crowd. These events are not just about promoting the drink; they embody the lifestyle and excitement that the brand represents.
  2. Sports Sponsorship and Athlete Involvement:
    Red Bull sponsors extreme sports athletes and up-and-coming stars in various disciplines, such as motocross, Formula One racing, and cliff diving. By associating with athletes who embody high performance and daring, Red Bull enhances its image as a brand for those who challenge limits.
  3. Interactive and Immersive Campaigns:
    Red Bull’s marketing often involves interactive campaigns that encourage consumer participation. For example, the Red Bull Stratos project, which featured Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking space jump, was live-streamed and viewers could interact through social media channels. This not only created a global media event but also an unforgettable brand experience.
  4. Innovative Digital Experiences:
    Red Bull has embraced digital platforms to extend their event experiences online. They offer virtual tours of events, behind-the-scenes content, and exclusive interviews, making their brand more accessible to global audiences who cannot attend in person.
  5. Creating Content Platforms:
    Beyond just events, Red Bull has established itself as a content powerhouse with Red Bull TV and Red Bull Media House, producing music, videos, and documentaries that engage audiences beyond conventional advertising. This content is crafted to entertain and inspire, aligning with the interests and passions of their target demographic.

5. Encourage Participation

A two-way conversation is much more engaging than a one-sided pitch. Encourage your audience to participate by asking for their opinions, hosting contests, or creating platforms where they can express themselves related to your brand.

This not only makes them feel valued but also provides invaluable insights into their preferences and behaviors.


LEGO, the iconic toy company known for its interlocking plastic bricks, approach to engaging consumers goes beyond traditional marketing, inviting fans of all ages to co-create, share, and even influence product development.
  1. LEGO Ideas Platform:
    Fans can submit their own designs for new LEGO sets, and the community votes on their favorites. Designs that receive enough support are reviewed by LEGO and potentially turned into official LEGO sets sold worldwide. This not only fosters a deep sense of involvement among fans but also taps into crowd-sourced creativity.
  2. User-Generated Content and Contests:
    LEGO regularly hosts contests that challenge users to build specific designs and share them on social media or through their community app. Winners often receive prizes, but more importantly, their creations might be showcased by LEGO, providing recognition and a sense of achievement.
  3. Interactive Social Media Campaigns:
    LEGO’s social media strategy involves more than just posting updates; it actively engages followers by asking questions, seeking opinions, and encouraging fans to post their own LEGO creations. This two-way interaction keeps the community active and engaged, strengthening their emotional connection to the brand.
  4. Collaborative Events and Workshops:
    In LEGO stores and events around the world, children and adults can participate in building workshops and competitions. These events are not only fun but also immersive, allowing participants to feel a part of the LEGO community.
  5. Feedback Mechanisms:
    LEGO takes customer feedback seriously, using it to improve existing products and develop new ones. They engage with their community through surveys and direct feedback channels, demonstrating that they value customer input and are committed to continuous improvement based on what their users really want.

Leave a comment

Leave a comment, an idea, a related blog post on X (Twitter)

X (Twitter)


Marketing to young consumers who avoid traditional advertising channels doesn't have to be daunting. It’s all about shifting the focus from selling to engaging. By being genuine, embracing new platforms for interaction, and aligning with their values, you can build trust and interest among young audiences. Remember, at the end of the day, the goal is to make them feel understood and appreciated—not just marketed to.