Interviews

Amy Garrett, Managing Director, Beano for Brands

Generation Alpha, the generation born in 2010, the same year as the iPad, are revolutionising advertising and Amy Garrett believes that understanding them is key to successful brand building.

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

Share


In twenty years of advertising, Amy Garrett believes there’s never been a generation like Generation Alpha. They are the generation who know what they want and aren’t afraid to shout about it. An activist generation; 1 in 5 have been active within a march, according to Beano for Brands’ latest survey, A Portrait of Gen Alpha.

As Managing Director of Beano for Brands, Beano Studio’s creative agency, Garrett has a unique perspective on the impact of this generation on the communications industry. She cites the climate strikes and the school strikes as recent instances where the kids have led, and the adults followed.

This is the generation with a point of view that they aren’t afraid to share and with a voice that they believe should be heard.

The iPad generation

Generation Alpha are digital natives and as such says Garrett, “They will seek to bend [the digital world] to their own needs and ambitions. They’re not being defined or consumed by it.”

This brings a level of sophistication to this age group as an audience believes Garrett who explains, “they will look outside stereotypes or identity.” The agency’s research found that 58% of Gen Alpha think gender doesn’t matter versus 33% of their parents. In short this is a group that doesn’t fit into outdated stereotypes and are actively redefining the world in their own image. 

As an audience, they are also deeply discerning, and not afraid to call out behaviour or attitudes they think aren’t right. Garrett is adamant that, for brands to succeed with this audience, they “need to communicate with integrity and purpose otherwise they’ll be in danger of bypassing this incredibly sophisticated audience.”

[Brands] need to communicate with integrity and purpose otherwise they’ll be in danger of bypassing this incredibly sophisticated audience.

Amy Garrett

Shifting brand awareness

For an 80-year-old British brand with an impressive heritage, Garrett says Beano for Brands’ biggest problem is perception rather than recognition. “One of the biggest challenges is opening up perception of our offering outside of the comic,” she explains.

While everyone has heard of the Beano comic and its characters, Beano for Brands’ challenge is to educate the marketing industry on what they can offer outside of that. But she doesn’t downplay the importance of the iconic comic when it comes to opening doors: “The comic gives this huge equity within the market to have lots of interesting conversations with lots of interesting brands.”

The company has shifted its offering from less of a media owner targeting a youth demographic towards becoming a more holistic creative agency, something Garrett feels was “a pretty natural step and progression.” Beano has become more of a “multimedia kids’ platform” in the last four years, something it intends to develop further with an agency offering.

A unique insight

“Understanding kids is at the core of what we do,” says Garrett, something she feels is at the heart of Beano for Brands’ offering. The agency has an extensive insight department, which Garrett believes is a differentiator.

She explains, “not many creative agencies have this kind of insight capability in-house where they’re able to access that kind of data with just 24 or 48-hours’ notice.” This fast turnaround allows the team to work accurately at speed and to build up their knowledge of their audience in real time.

“We’ve built up a really rigorous data offering,” says Garrett. “It acts as a real time ecosystem of insight.” This means that the agency can help brands tap into kids’ changing behaviours whether that’s their roles in the home or the way they traverse the digital landscape. “This is a sophisticated, media-tech savvy generation,” adds Garrett, and as such, brands need to handle their communications accordingly.

We will continue to monitor their [Gen Alpha’s] progress and in turn help brands to navigate an ever-changing digital landscape.

Amy Garrett

Embracing the power of “playground currency”

This means both speaking and listening to their audience in question, something Beano for Brands does with their Trend Setter panel. This is made up of a selection of children that the agency speaks to at least once a week. As Garrett says of the partnership between panel members and agency staff, “Our creative work is co-created.”

This panel gives the agency authentic insight from the cultural and media landscape this generation are navigating. Garrett explains that the panel “is fundamental to our sector, to the work we produce. It allows us to stay on point and reactive; we can optimise work as we go.”

Garrett describes the insights they receive as “playground currency”, what’s hot and what’s not. And this, for Gen Alpha, is a sliding scale that can change abruptly week by week. Without the ongoing insight from their panel, Garrett believes it’s next to impossible to keep up with the youngest generation.

For brands, they need to develop a deeper understanding of the next generation. The only way they can successfully speak to them, says Garrett, is to understand what they like, what they watch and how they’re choosing to identify.

An ongoing project

It is clear that understanding Generation Alpha is an ongoing project for Beano and Garrett. “We’ve just scratched the surface,” she explains. With a different craze happening each week, it’s only by speaking to the young people themselves that the agency will truly understand how to help brands authentically connect with them.

Garrett says of Beano for Brands’ future that “we will continue to monitor their [Gen Alpha’s] progress and in turn help brands to navigate an ever-changing digital landscape.” Brand behaviour must shift as their audience’s does. Most importantly, the advertising industry “need[s] to stop being so clumsy with our communication.”

In the midst of an advertising ecosystem in which authenticity is the ultimate currency she offers two succinct pieces of advice. Firstly, “keep the creative bar high” and secondly, something she believes is applicable across most industries, “keep perspective.”

With the oldest members of Gen Alpha still yet to reach secondary school, this is a generation whose world is changing at speed around them. They can keep up; it’s the brands that are struggling with the pace of change. For Beano, this is a challenge they are ready to take on, while helping brands to do the same in an authentic way.

Related Tags

Agency Leader Youth