Confessions of a 21-year-old: What young female consumers really want

Who's going to take Sofia on for an internship this summer?
Who's going to take Sofia on for an internship this summer?

'The most successful way to stand out is to literally have me saying "literally."'

Dear brands, agencies and trendsetters of the world, it’s time for some tough love.

You may be asking: why should I listen to this pretentious human? Let me answer you.

I am your ideal female. Let me rephrase that: I’m your ideal female consumer. 21-years-old, college student, product of mixed cultures, lover of Instagram and smart advertising. See what I did there? Smart advertising. That’s the real deal, and that’s what I’m here to talk about.

It’s time to address what I want to see; better yet, what I want to feel whenever you put an ad in my face. I can sum it up to that "a-ha!" moment. When an ad is able to utilize the literality of the advertised product, playing not only with the consumer but also with itself, you can be sure that it has a place in my heart. 

If your product is the second-best choice, and you and everyone else know that, use that fact to your advantage. Tell me that the second-best choice sometimes is ideal ("Bachelor" fans will get this one). If changing a baby’s diaper is smelly and unpleasant, play with that. Don’t try to hide it and paint it pink because the most successful way to stand out is to literally have me saying "literally."

Words are powerful, much more than beloved celebrities who will charge you a million-dollar paycheck to be in your ad. Use words in your favor: if they are the right ones, it doesn’t matter who says them. No one thinks John Krasinski drives a Hyundai. Let’s not pretend it is a flashy glittery Ferrari with wings. Regular folk cars are boring, but life can be boring too. You need boring to survive. Instead, you could approach that by saying: from all the options, we have the least boring. It’s successful simply because it’s true. 

On that note, Burger King Corporation – we get it, the Whopper is awesome. The best. One of its kind. But is it truly what the brand’s 70-year legacy stands for? It’s like the old grandma who was once a cheerleader and cannot seem to talk about anything else. It’s time for a Burger Queen to shake things up.

Win me over by being clever and making me realize something I’ve always thought but had never realized. It’s not that I want to be told what to think, but I want you to know it even before I do. 

The campaign "Scent" by Glade created by Ogilvy Chicago is the one perfect example of that. In this great but weird digital world of ours, "scent" has been one of the few unreachable things. That campaign was the Amal to my George Clooney – it took what was believed to be untamable and put a ring on it. Or should I say: a plastic bag.  

I guess what this sweet (but at times pretentious) 21-year-old lady is trying to say is: make us love you and not your product. Be unapologetically real about who you are and why should I choose your brand of, I don’t know, dish soap instead of the hundreds of cheaper ones (which for a college student is a priority). Be cool, be funny, be audacious and more importantly, don’t pretend. Be so cool that young people want to be associated with your brand. 

Inside of every insecure young adult, there’s a little teenager wanting to be the life of the party -- be the kid wearing a White Claw costume, not the one dressed as Budweiser’s flavored seltzer.

Sofia Gomes, of São Paulo, Brazil, is a junior majoring in Design and Communications at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She's currently hunting for a summer internship at a U.S.-based creative shop. Get in touch:

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