Marketing to Gen Z at the Movies: Not Quite Pitch Perfect

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The recent release of the much-anticipated Pitch Perfect sequel was enjoyed by women of all ages. “The Facebook” was rampant with a flurry of posts from the 45+ set looking for first-day meetups at the movies. My teen daughter was invited to a birthday/viewing party at one of the more posh eat-in venues. And even I was able to drag my husband for a light-hearted date night.

While the ages of the audience varied, there was a significant push in the pre-movie onscreen “entertainment” to the Pitch Perfect fans — sort of.

Target showed a catchy ad that riffed on the cup scene by Anna Kendrick in the original Pitch Perfect.

And Schick did their best with an aca-awesome-ish “Ready, Shave, Shine!” music video, part of their Rock Your Legs marketing campaign that includes an a cappella challenge, a trivia quiz, and a social media program.

The pre-movie marketing effort is commendable, but the ads missed an opportunity to connect authentically with one of the most important (and growing) viewer demographics: Generation Z. Considering the different ages of the audience, it wasn’t necessarily important to tailor all the ads to the Gen Zers. Many Gen Z girls were accompanied by their moms, so it makes sense to advertise to the segment of the audience with the money. Target, while using a new but well-loved cult classic clip as inspiration, casted non-Gen Z women (no faces shown, but those were older hands and mature clothing options) to sell paper cups. Schick’s tune was catchy even if it’s ultimately not something you’ll hear teens singing in the hall.

For the first time ever, I felt like someone had really thought out the advertising for the pre-show experience; it was chock-full of nods to the Pitch Perfect franchise, which fans could definitely appreciate. I was tickled at the attention. And I appreciated the toe-tapping that got me in the mood for the show to follow. While it was a great way to advertise to the varied audience, I think there is an opportunity to use this time to help strategically boost the dropping numbers of the Gen Z audience at the movies. As the house lights dimmed, a final message on the screen read “remember to come to the movies early” to enjoy the pre-movie entertainment and use Shazam to capture today’s music — a fantastic push for engaging moviegoers to come early, buy popcorn, and hang out. Great idea, but, possibly, in an effort to entice the core Gen Z audience, it would help if the message suggesting they download a song about shaving their legs came from someone younger and not mom-like (and maybe not be about shaving their legs).

This is a baby step in the right direction. With a little tweaking and consultation from the actual Gen Z customer, though, companies like Target and Schick can take bolder steps to craft more authentic, relevant messaging that captivates and grows their audience. And the “mom-vitation” to come early and hang out and watch ads? Well, that might just be the easiest fix — just ask the teens. Whether they suggest a ukulele play-off, a YouTuber host, or something else that rocks their Gen Z world, you can bet you’ll be “pitch perfect.”


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