What to Watch: BUSK [documentary]

BUSK is a short, social issues and subcultural music documentary, following five musicians as they busk in the arteries of the NYC subway system––Persevering to display their talent for income, sustenance, and a means to work, the busker’s experiences are portrayed through interviews, and live performances on the subway platforms. By exploring the city’s music programs, laws, and the musicians’ passion to perform, BUSK, takes the audience below into the heart of New York to hear the real sounds of the subway system.

BUSK – film from Ramon Nyitrai on Vimeo.

Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities.[1] In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world by men, women and children and dates back to antiquity. In English speaking countries people engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers.

Harvey Milk Will Be First Openly Gay Elected Official on a Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service released the design of a new stamp commemorating the gay rights activist and American politician Harvey Milk on Monday. It will be the first to feature an openly gay politician.

Milk made history when he won a spot on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, becoming the first elected official to openly identify as gay. He was assassinated the following year by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently stepped down but wanted his job back. He was also the subject of the 2008 biographical film Milk, starring Sean Penn.

The stamp, which was first revealed in Linn’s Stamp News, will feature a black-and-white photo of the politician along with his name and the rainbow colors which represent the LGBT pride flag.

It will first be issued on May 22, which is also Harvey Milk Day.

Mozilla CEO Steps Down After Anti-Gay Marriage Controversy

Brendan Eich has stepped down as CEO of Mozilla, a company he cofounded, following significant criticism for his earlier support of a legal measure banning gay marriage.

“Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO,” Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of Mozilla, wrote in a blog post. “He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Eich, a prominent programmer who previously created Javascript, took over as the non-profit company’s CEO on March 24. Shortly after, a number of Mozilla employees publicly urged Eich to step down from the role, in reaction to a donation he made to the Proposition 8 effort, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008. (Half the company’s board also resigned after his appointment, though Prop 8 was not cited as the reason.)

The tipping point, however, appeared to come on Monday when OkCupid posted a notice to anyone using Firefox, a Mozilla product, urging them to switch browsers. “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples,” OkCupid wrote in the notice. “We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”

In interviews with multiple publications this week, Eich emphasized that his personal beliefs outside the office are not relevant inside the office.

“It may be challenging for a CEO, but everyone in our community can have different beliefs about all sorts of things that may be in conflict,” Eich said in an interview with CNET published on Tuesday. “They leave them at the door when they come to work on the Mozilla mission.”

Just two days later, however, Eich and Mozilla decided otherwise.

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” Mozilla’s Baker wrote in the blog post. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

The full statement from Mozilla is below:

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

While painful, the events of the last week show exactly why we need the web. So all of us can engage freely in the tough conversations we need to make the world better.

We need to put our focus back on protecting that Web. And doing so in a way that will make you proud to support Mozilla.

What’s next for Mozilla’s leadership is still being discussed. We want to be open about where we are in deciding the future of the organization and will have more information next week. However, our mission will always be to make the Web more open so that humanity is stronger, more inclusive and more just: that’s what it means to protect the open Web.

We will emerge from this with a renewed understanding and humility — our large, global, and diverse community is what makes Mozilla special, and what will help us fulfill our mission. We are stronger with you involved.

Thank you for sticking with us.

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Diplo, Haim and Spike Lee Reveal Nike’s U.S. Soccer Kit For 2014 FIFA World Cup

Earlier today Nike unveiled its national soccer team uniform for the coming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and assisting in the reveal of the red, white and blue uniform is DiploSpike Lee, and sister trioHAIM. Creating a bridge between fans and soccer players, the musical figures were pictured alongside the likes of players Andrew Luck and Ndamukong Suh, as well as other notable soccer fans such as skateboarder Erik Koston and track and field gold medalist Allyson Felix. Check out the kit above and head here for information on how to purchase.

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Here Are All The Quantifiable Reasons You Should Hire More Women

If “the right thing to do” wasn’t a compelling enough reason, now there are numbers.

It’s not just about providing equal opportunity: over the past decade, a number of research papers have shown how hiring women is linked to better corporate financial results. But CEOs and other executives rarely have the time or inclination to pore over lengthy papers, and as a result, much of this research remains known only to the academic world. In a new paper, The Case for Investing in Women, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) succinctly lays out the most compelling recent research findings on women in business, from organizations like McKinsey & Company, Catalyst, Columbia University, and the London School of business.

ABI has long promoted the role of women in technology and tech-oriented companies, but not all business leaders are receptive to their ideas. “If you look at the kind of work we do, there’s no more common question we get than ‘Why do we care if we have more women?” explains Telle Whitney, CEO and president of ABI.

Here are some of the data points highlighted in ABI’s report (specifics on each of these studies can be found within the report itself):

  • Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%.
  • In a study by Dezsö and Ross of 1,500 U.S. firms in the S&P, female representation in top management improved financial performance for organizations where innovation is a key piece of the business strategy.
  • In 2012, a NCWIT analysis of women’s participation in IT patents found that U.S. patents produced by mixed-gender teams were cited 30% to 40% more than other similar patents. 
  • A study from Professor Anita Woolley, an economist at Carnegie Mellon, revealed that teams with at least one female member have a higher collective IQ than all-male teams. 

     

  • Gallup has found that companies with more diverse teams (including more women) have a 22% lower turnover rate. Organizations with more inclusive cultures also have an easier time with recruiting.

 

Here’s the bottom line: more diverse teams breed more innovative outcomes. “When you form a team tasked with a problem to solve or an opportunity to capitalize on, if you have half a dozen people with the same background in terms of life experience, education, where they grew up–you’ll get a consensus around relatively homogenous solutions,” says Jeanne Hultquist, director of strategic corporate programs and the author of the report. “[With] more diverse team chemistry, you get more perspectives with a larger variety of options to consider, and more chances of having innovative solutions proposed.”

Not every study on women in business has yielded definitively positive outcomes. As the New Yorker points out, it’s possible that studies showing stronger performance for companies with more women on their boards could be the result of financially strong companies being more inclusive (as opposed to more inclusiveness leading to better finances. In one study cited by the New Yorker, researchers found no connection between female board membership and performance in the stock market.

Hultquist believes there’s more research that needs to be done, especially around startups. “I think it would be great if more research was done around entrepreneurial teams–startup organizations that really have the best shot at product innovation,” she says. “I do think there is a dearth of women in startup teams and even fewer in venture-funded startups.”

Nonetheless, the evidence of positive outcomes from having more women represented in companies is already strong enough to take seriously. Check out the full ABI report here.

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What a White Father Learned About Stop-and-Frisk From Watching His Black Son

The “special tax” on men of color is more than an inconvenience. A father shares his firsthand observations and fears. This post is part of a debate series on “Is Stop and Frisk Worth It?,” an article featured in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine.

Stop-and-frisk searches force African-American males into an East Berlin-esque sense of oppression—while the rest of us go our merry ways without noticing.

When I heard that my 21-year-old son, a student at Harvard, had been stopped by New York City police on more than one occasion during the brief summer he spent as a Wall Street intern, I was angry. On one occasion, while wearing his best business suit, he was forced to lie face-down on a filthy sidewalk because—well, let’s be honest about it, because of the color of his skin. As an attorney and a college professor who teaches criminal justice classes, I knew that his constitutional rights had been violated. As a parent, I feared for his safety at the hands of the police—a fear that I feel every single day, whether he is in New York or elsewhere.

Moreover, as the white father of an African-American son, I am keenly aware that I never face the suspicion and indignities that my son continuously confronts. In fact, all of the men among my African-American in-laws—and I literally mean every single one of them—can tell multiple stories of unjustified investigatory police stops of the sort that not a single one of my white male relatives has ever experienced.

In The Atlantic’s April feature story “Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It?” author Daniel Bergner cited Professor Frank Zimring’s notion that stop-and-frisk is “a special tax on minority males.” I cannot endorse the conclusion that this “special tax” actually helps make communities safer. As indicated by the competing perspectives inAtlantic essays by Donald Braman and Paul Larkin, scholars disagree on whether crime rate data actually substantiate the claims of stop-and-frisk advocates. Either way, I do believe that the concept of a “special tax” deserves closer examination.

Proponents of stop-and-frisk often suggest that the hardships suffered by young men of color might be tolerable if officers were trained to be polite rather than aggressive and authoritarian. We need to remember, however, that we are talking about imposing an additional burden on a demographic that alreadyexperiences a set of alienating “taxes” not shared by the rest of society.

I can tell myriad stories about the ways my son is treated with suspicion and negative presumptions in nearly every arena of his life. I can describe the terrorized look on his face when, as a 7-year-old trying to learn how to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in front of our suburban house, he was followed at 2-miles-per-hour from a few feet away by a police patrol car—a car that sped away when I came out of the front door to see what was going on. I can tell stories of teachers, coaches, and employers who have forced my son to overcome a presumption that he will cause behavior problems or that he lacks intellectual capability. I can tell you about U.S. Customs officials inexplicably ordering both of us to exit our vehicle and enter a building at the Canadian border crossing so that a team of officers could search our car without our watching—an event that never occurs when I am driving back from Canada by myself.

If I hadn’t witnessed all this so closely, I never would have fully recognized the extent of the indignities African-American boys and men face. Moreover, as indicated by research recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the cumulative physical toll this treatment takes on African-American men can accelerate the aging process and cause early death. Thus, no “special tax” on this population can be understood without recognizing that it does not exist as a small, isolated element in people’s lives.

It’s equally important to recognize the more acute dangers posed by these encounters. When my son was walking home one night during his summer in New York City, two men jumped out of the shadows and grabbed him. Any reasonable person would instantly have been jolted into wondering, “Am I being robbed?” That question demands quick decision-making: “Do I defend myself? Do I break free and try to run away?”

However, because cautious African-American men know that they are frequent targets of sudden and unexplained police stops, they must suppress their rational defensive reactions with self-imposed docility. What if these were plainclothes police officers? Any resistance could have led to my son’s being tasered or even shot. And if the police were to shoot him in this context—all alone in the shadows on an empty street late at night—that act would likely have been judged as a justifiable homicide. In my son’s case, it turned out that they were plainclothes police officers who failed to identify themselves until the encounter was well underway.

This example is by no means unique. My African-American brother-in-law, a white-collar professional, was driving to my house on Thanksgiving Day with his 20-something son when their car was stopped and surrounded by multiple police vehicles. The police officers immediately pointed guns at my relatives’ heads. If my brother-in-law or nephew—or one of the officers—had sneezed, there could have been a terribly tragic police shooting. After the officers looked them over and told them they could go, my relatives asked why they had been stopped. The officers hemmed and hawed for a moment before saying, “You fit the description of some robbery suspects—one was wearing a Houston Astros jersey just like the one your son is wearing.”

In reality, if my in-laws had fit the description of the robbery suspects so well, there is no way the police could have ruled them out as the robbers without searching their car. Sadly, it seems likely that the police were stopping—and presumably pointing guns at—every African-American male driver who happened by. I have heard similar stories from other African-American friends—and never from any white friend or relative.

Many have noted that stop-and-frisk practices hinder important constitutional values: the liberty to walk freely down the street; the reasonable expectation of privacy against unjustified invasion of one’s person by government officials; and the equal protection of the laws. But even the best-intentioned white writers often gloss over the actual human impacts of these encounters. Now and again, an individual white elite will have an experience that personalizes this principle of individualized suspicion.

For example, Linda Greenhouse, the Yale Law School Research Scholar andNew York Times columnist, once wrote about the “unnerving” experience of being “unaccountably pulled over by a police officer” in a quiet, residential neighborhood in Washington, D.C. at night. As Greenhouse wrote, “My blood pressure goes up as I recall it years later.” Michael Powell, another New York Times columnist, learned from his two 20-something sons that they had never been stopped by police despite traveling regularly all over New York City, while eight male African-American college students told him they’d cumulatively been stopped a total of 92 times—in encounters that included rough physical treatment. Neither of these writers lacked knowledge about these issues, but their experiences obviously humanized and heightened their awareness.

My son’s experiences aside, I can only call on one personal reference when the issue of stop-and-frisk is raised. As a graduate student in April 1981, I spent a spring break traveling around Europe. When I visited Germany, I decided to spend one afternoon walking around Communist East Berlin. I quickly found myself being stopped at every single street corner by police officers whose suspicions were undoubtedly raised by my American clothing. Because of my limited knowledge of German, every encounter involved emphatic demands and raised voices, accompanied by threatening hand-slapping gestures. While Linda Greenhouse described her one-time experience with a police officer as “unnerving,” my encounter with a Communist police state would be better described as “suffocating.” I had the sense of being helplessly trapped, aware that no matter which direction I chose to walk, I would find more police waiting for me on the next block. I often wonder whether suspicionless stop-and-frisk searches regularly force African-American males into an East Berlin-esque sense of oppression—while the rest of us go our merry ways without noticing.

Read the full op-ed on the Atlantic

‘We Are Just Humans’: Portrait Project Highlights Ethnic Diversity

Pantone is known for its color matching system, often used in fashion, printing and painting. But Angélica Dass is using the famous swatches for something even more exciting: creating a dialogue around ethnic diversity.

The Madrid-based photographer (pictured above) has been working on her project Humanaesince April 2012, taking portraits of people and matching their skin tones to Pantone hues to show how wide-ranging the human spectrum really is. There are now more than 2,000 photographs on the project’s Tumblr.

“The inspiration for this project comes from my family roots,” Dass tells Mashable. “I am the granddaughter of black and native Brazilians, and the daughter of a black father adopted by a white family. So, I am a mixture of diverse pigments. Humanae is a pursuit for highlighting our true colors, rather than the untrue and clichéd red and yellow, black and white.”

For Dass, the project is like a game of “subverting our codes” — challenging the ideas and labels of social and personal identity.

“What we have learned in social, linguistic or cultural contexts tend to distract us from everyday nuances that I would like to rethink,” she says.

Humanae originally began as Dass’ final work for a master’s degree in art photography. The first images were taken of her family in Brazil, and then she began posting announcements via social media, inviting anyone to be involved. Eventually, she took portraits in galleries, art fairs, favelas, NGOs, the UNESCO headquarters and many other places.

Dass says the project is a work in progress; “infinite and unfinished.”She will stop one day, but she feels it’s important, at least symbolically, to highlight people from each continent. The current 2,000 portraits come from Madrid, Barcelona, Winterthur, Switzerland, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris and Chicago.

The project has already generated a lot of discussion, including being used in educational textbooks, as a tool for teachers to talk about equality, and by scientists to illustrate research in optical physiology. It also helps children to identify themselves as unique.

“The audience is free to read into it. The ultimate goal is to use the Internet to provoke a discussion on ethnic identity, creating images that lead us to match [ourselves] independently from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age or aesthetic standards,” Dass says.

“We cannot fit [ourselves into] codes. We are just humans.”

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Black Female Troops Say Grooming Rule ‘Racially Biased’

Thousands of soldiers and others have signed a White House petition calling for the president to order the Army to reconsider just-released appearance and grooming regulations they contend are “racially biased” against black women.

The update to the Army regulation was published Monday , and among the rules are clarifications for Army-appropriate hairstyles. For example, the Army does not allow twists or multiple braids that are bigger than a quarter of an inch in diameter. The reg also bans dreadlocks of any style, and cornrows must be uniform and no bigger than a quarter of an inch.

Twists and dreadlocks have been prohibited since 2005, but the regulation at the time did not clearly define the specific hairstyles, Army spokesman Paul Prince said.

The new rule clearly defines the different hairstyles and gives soldiers specific guidance on what’s allowed, he said. Leadership training released in mid-March, published before the reg was official,includes photos of a number of unauthorized hairstyles , several of which are popular among black women.

“I’ve been in the military six years, I’ve had my hair natural four years, and it’s never been out of regulation. It’s never interfered with my head gear,” said Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, of the Georgia National Guard, who wears her hair in two twists.

Jacobs, who started the White House petition, said she’s “kind of at a loss now with what to do with my hair.”

The Army defines “twists” as two distinct strands of hair twisted around one another to create a rope-like appearance.

Jacobs said twists are the go-to style for black female soldiers going to the field because it “makes it easy to take care of in the field,” she said.

Her hair is naturally thick and curly, making it impossible to pull into a bun, Jacobs said.

“Most black women, their hair doesn’t grow straight down, it grows out,” she said. “I’m disappointed to see the Army, rather than inform themselves on how black people wear their hair, they’ve white-washed it all.”

In the White House petition, Jacobs calls on the Army to reconsider changes to the regulation.

“Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair,” she said in her petition.

The changes are “racially biased, and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent,” she further states.

Staff Sgt. Mary Johnson voiced similar concerns on Sgt. Maj. of the Army Ray Chandler’s Facebook page.

“As far as the twists, that really limits females with curly/kinky hair,” she said. “I can’t simply pull my hair back due to excessive knotting. I proudly wear twists in a professional manner every day and only took them down on the weekends. It makes it very difficult for ethnic females.”

Jacobs said she’ll likely wear a wig to her battle assembly because chemically relaxing her hair or putting it up in corn rows is damaging to her hair.

“I talked to my first sergeant, and he said we would (face non-judicial punishment) if we’re out of reg,” she said. “So I either get a wig or be NJPed, all because of the way my hair grows naturally.”

Jacobs said that before these clarifications, black female soldiers had more hairstyle options while maintaining a professional appearance.

“We feel let down,” Jacobs said. “I think, at the end of the day, a lot of people don’t understand the complexities of natural hair. A lot of people, instead of educating themselves, they think dreadlocks and they think Bob Marley, or they see women with really big Afros and they think that’s the only thing we can do with our hair.”

Prince said hair grooming standards are “necessary to maintain uniformity within a military population.”

“Many hairstyles are acceptable, as long as they are neat and conservative,” he said. “In addition, headgear is expected to fit snugly and comfortably, without bulging or distortion from the intended shape of the headgear and without excessive gaps. Unfortunately, some hairstyles do not meet this standard or others listed in AR 670-1.”

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Comedian Hari Kondabolu Talks About “Waiting for 2042″ on Letterman

Comedian Hari Kondabolu performed a snippet of his debut comedy album “Waiting for 2042” on the “Late Show With David Letterman” this week. The album title is a reference to the year when it’s estimated that white people will become racial minorities in the United States, so it’s great to see Kondabolu takes his smart and witty humor to late night TV. Enjoy.

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Millennials Don’t Care About Owning Cars, And Car Makers Can’t Figure Out Why

Driving numbers are down for younger people and the auto industry hasn’t found a way to respond. It’s because they don’t understand why millennials could possibly not want to drive.

Auto manufacturers today are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why the millennial generation has little-to-no interest in owning a car. What car makers are failing to see is that this generation’s interests and priorities have been redefined in the last two decades, pushing cars to the side while must-have personal technology products take up the fast lane.

It’s no secret the percentage of new vehicles sold to 18- to 34-year-olds has significantly dropped over the past few years. Many argue this is the result of a weak economy, that the idea of making a large car investment and getting into more debt on top of college loans is too daunting for them. But that’s not the “driving” factor, especially considering that owning a smartphone or other mobile device, with its monthly fees of network access, data plan, insurance, and app services, is almost comparable to the monthly payments required when leasing a Honda Civic.

What auto manufacturers, along with much of corporate America are missing here is that the vehicles to freedom and personal identity have changed for this generation. The sooner brands get a grip on this reality the sooner they can make adjustments in how they market to and communicate with this core group, which is essential to their long-term success.

 

It used to be that having your own car provided the ultimate sense of freedom for young adults, allowing them a means to get together with friends, establish independence and separate from their parents. It was a critical right of passage to real adulthood to drive your own car, and it was the one place you could blast music without your parents complaining. Popular movies of the later Baby Boomer’s and Gen X’s coming of age, such as Risky Business and Dazed and Confused shaped this generation’s sense of self, portraying images of fancy sports cars as the ultimate young adult possession.

Today however, older teens and young adults don’t need cars to achieve a sense of self and freedom. This generation’s coming of age consisted of graduating from the Internet and CD-ROM computer games to hand-held mobile devices where they’re establishing identities, relationships, and individualism online all day long–as much as, if not more than, in the real world.

With recent studies showing a huge decline in auto sales among the millennial marketplace, it’s no wonder auto manufacturers are in a mild state of panic, realizing they’re missing out on a generation that wields $200 billion in purchasing power. Numbers don’t lie, and over the last few years statistics have shown a significant drop in young people who own cars, as well as those with driver’s licenses–and that decline continues among the youngest millennials, meaning this is not a trend that’s going away anytime soon. From 2007 to 2011, the number of cars purchased by people aged 18 to 34, fell almost 30%, and according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, only 44% of teens obtain a driver’s license within the first year of becoming eligible and just half, 54% are licensed before turning 18. This is a major break with the past, considering how most teens of the two previous generations would race to the DMV for their license or permit on the day of their 16th birthday.

Unlike the Baby Boomers, who gained their independence and individuality from movies, music, cars, and motorcycles, older teens and young adults today are expressing their freedom through social channels–these are their new wheels and they get the keys now starting at about age 9. Marketing to this group demands a different mindset that involves taking the time to understand the neo-millennials.

YOUNGER MILLENNIALS ARE NOT WHO YOU THINK THEY ARE

Exacerbating the issue is the general misperception that millennials are lazy, privileged, and putting off adulthood. This leads many marketers down the wrong road when attempting to connect and engage with this generation. Our latest research shows that these 17-25 year olds are not who most adults think they are. In multiple studies of college millennial consumers (CMCs), our studies reveal a highly motivated, open-minded, passionate, and extremely engaged consumer. They could even be considered more practical than generations before them. For instance, one study of CMCs conducted in May of 2013 showed students using their summer jobs to set them up more securely for early adulthood. Out of more than 1,600 college students surveyed:

  • A full 96% were focused on making money to curtail their tuition and other college expenses.
  • Nearly 30% needed to make $4,000 or more for the summer.
  • Nearly 50% of students were engaging in some form of “paid internship,” in an effort to gain both pay and valuable job experience.

While they might appear distracted and lazy gazing at their phones, in reality, they are keenly aware of what’s happening around them, perhaps more so than other generations, and focused on their near and long-term opportunities.

GADGETS OVER WHEELS

Because millennials use technology in every facet of their lives–from mobile phones to tablets and laptops–to connect with friends and family and to get work done, the tech gadget is their most prized possession, and has a much higher value to a CMC than transportation or owning a car. Think about it: while CMCs are likely to share a car and a ride, there’s no way they would ever share their phone.

CMCs game together and hang out virtually, they don’t have that same need to physically get together as prior generations. The CMC’s popularity and relationships are defined by their online status, not their “cool ride” and they make all of their connections online. millennials search for jobs online. They prefer to coordinate dating online, and meet people through websites and apps.

SO IS THE ERA OF THE CAR OVER?

Brands looking to target this unique audience need to make adjustments in their communication and engagement, while making sure they appeal to this group’s fundamental interests. Companies like our client ZipCar, for example, are tapping into millennial preferences for practical, accessible, and environmentally friendly modes of transportation that neither attempt to define or detract from these young adults’ online connections and freedom. Through an innovative, successful marketing campaign, Zipcar took their messaging and experiential peer-to-peer program to over 45 college campuses nationwide, resulting in 39% YOY growth in applications, 9.9 million impressions, and 6,200+ new applications.

Although they can’t expect to match millennials’ preference for technology, automotive manufacturers and dealers can promote merchandise and features that meet this generation’s interests, such as tech-enabled cars with voice-activated communications and entertainment system and in-car connectivity as an extension of their phones. The first generation Ford SYNC system features voice-activated calling, music, text messaging, as well as the ability to allow drivers to connect to news, business, and real-time traffic. We’ll be seeing even more versions of the connected car in the upcoming year.

Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity that this next generation of consumers doesn’t feel the need to define themselves by their cars, but instead more by what they say, share, capture, and create. But what auto manufacturers and other consumer brand companies need to be thinking is, “How can I help them say, share, capture, and create more?” They can start by gaining a better understanding of the millennial consumer, their interests and behaviors, to fully engage with them in their world. This will help identify and/or create situations and niche opportunities where car use and ownership is an advantage. Then they can extend the dialogue to younger millennials in particular, reaching them to create a new definition of freedom and empowerment for a new generation.

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