Advertising to teenagers

A duty of care is now expected from big brands to keep up with their consumer pool. This will see them make more informed decisions around their marketing materials, to remain as inclusive as possible, and present themselves as the go-to brand for a diverse range of people using online and offline methods.

Advertising to a group of teenagers is vital as you can imagine. Teenagers utilise different shopping techniques to us parents. Social network influence such as, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and reviews from platforms such as YouTube. I don’t know about your kid’s but mine are always watching YouTube videos. This is a generation that grew up with the internet.


Skincare is something of a battleground for many teenagers. I remember the battle very well. But there are a few tried-and-true brands that generation after generation head back to. I remember Clearasil being one of those brands, the go-to name in facial scrubs for the acne-prone.

It was still a bold move then, for the brand to release a campaign admitting they “didn’t know teens”. Perhaps more triumphantly, the brand’s ad campaign rose from their use of a meme, which was then said by teenage viewers saying Clearasil clearly didn’t know what teens liked.

The campaign consisted of a series of videos whilst the employees admit that while they know teen acne, they don’t know teens. The campaign’s success lay in the sense of honesty, which teenagers would connect with, rather than attempting to present themselves as “cool”.


A recent Google study of 13-17 year olds placed Doritos higher than the likes of Apple and even Instagram in terms of “coolness”. So how is this brand reaching out to support teens?

One key way for brands to appeal to teenagers is to support the movements they support. Doritos absolutely nailed this by showing their support for LGBT campaigns with their limited-edition rainbow-coloured snack. To get one of these colourful packs, a donation had to be made to the It Gets Better Project. Naturally, this resonated hugely with consumers and the limited-edition Doritos quickly sold out and was a huge hit.

The key takeaway here is that Doritos showed huge support for a world that teenagers today value, without claiming to be the entire solution.


For young girls, starting their period will be an important and possibly scary time in their life, but for many, it can be an anxious time too. A time no young person will forget. However, Lil-Lets has created their own teen range which is perfect for breaking the stigma around period, including tampons for teenagers.

Using pastel colours and love-heart sketches on the packaging, Lil – Lets have put a lot of thought into their products and have a created period starter kits with age in mind. Making sure that everything is designed to reflect what appeals to young girls.

The discreet design is to help young girls relax and help say that periods don’t have to be a scary thing to encounter and will allow young girls to carry products around without feeling embarrassed when the time comes.

When it comes to the Lil-Lets teens pads, they have been created so that they are smaller and narrower which means they are often a better fit for a young girl’s body. They are also just as absorbent as adult products and are comfortable for a young teen to wear.

River Island

For its 30th birthday, the fashion store created advertisements that featured a range of body types and abilities to heighten inclusivity. In partnership with anti-bullying charity, Ditch The Label, River Island launched its ‘Labels Are For Clothes’ campaign to champion self-expression and reject stereotypes.

For young people in particular, shopping at high street brands like this is just one part of growing up and to see that different people being represented on a national scale will allow them to become more accepting of the world around them.

Promoting its AW18 collection, this is arguably their most diverse campaign yet and uses people from different backgrounds — including those with disabilities and down syndrome. River Island has acknowledged its responsibility to project the world around them, seeing as everyone wears clothes.


Toiletries company Dove are firm believers in allowing young people to reach their full potential and has launched the Self-Esteem Project that has changed a huge 40 million lives since 2004 through educational programmes, how brilliant is that. Their research discovered that nine out of ten girls with low self-esteem put their own health at risk by not seeing doctors or missing out on meals.

The brand offers free parent, teacher and youth leader resources to help adults talk to a young person who may lack in confidence. As well as this, their onsite blog allows you to learn more about key areas that influence a teens life — from social media and reality TV pressures to school bullying and mental health.


The brand, like Doritos, has not shied away from supporting movements that teenagers value. For example, their classic “Just Do It” campaign recently featured Colin Kaepernick, the American Footballer who started the “Take a Knee” protest against racial and social injustices by kneeling during the national anthem.

Nike continued to show their support for sports stars who were standing up against racial injustices with their latest campaign, featuring Raheem Sterling. This willingness to “speak out” in defence of equality has a huge value to teenagers in particular, who have a greater appreciation not only for what a brand sells, but what it stands for.

Evidently, major brands are making the move to meet the demands of modern culture and cater to their newly found audience who will soon become their main consumer base. By capturing their custom at an earlier stage, they’ll be able to focus on retention and ensure loyalty as they transition from teen-to-adult in the near future.

***Collaborative post***

Thank you for reading. We would love to hear your thoughts?


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)