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As predicted by the 2011 census, almost a third of the Indian demography today is constituted by youth. Accordingly, a major part of marketing strategies is focused on youth and youth culture. While music videos or anthems have often been the go-to content measures in the field of youth marketing, innovative formats like spoken-word poetry and stand-up comedy are also popular now. These attempt to represent the youth in a manner that both resonate with and appeals most to the demographic category.

We take a look at a few pieces of recently produced content to find out more about the representation of youth and meaningful ways to converse with them.

Aage Ki Soch - UpGrad

‘Aage ki Soch’ is the name given by UpGrad to their ‘upskill’ anthem. Released around the time of the first lockdown in India, it is shot entirely within a single room. Mundane objects from every day like an alarm clock, a coffee mug, a smartphone are all animated to sing and dance along with the rap song.

The song is meant to motivate listeners to think ahead or develop “aage ki soch”. UpGrad forges a brand connection when it advises youths to shun boredom through learning new skills on the internet. The underlying assumption is that there is a lack of excitement which in turn has been considered essential for youngsters.

The nationwide lockdown created time and space for many people to learn new skills or to take up new courses. UpGrad’s anthem hence capitalises on a phenomenon that was already underway and tries to add a beneficial dimension to the activity of learning.

Its message to the youth comes under the archetypes of responsibility and financial wisdom as it says - “time is money.”

Sar Utha ke Jiyo ft. Arjun Kanungo and Jonita Gandhi - HDFC Life

HDFC Life’s music video composed by Arjun Kanungo purportedly celebrates the young and responsible generation that is often misunderstood as reckless. It shows a host of random youths who, according to the narrative, live through a plan and practice. The three-minute music video is a patchwork of several vague images that are supposed to show the virtues of a planned lifestyle.

The narrative shows a bunch of youngsters who appear to be naive and thus are judged by the older generation but they turn out to be successful athletes or doctors. HDFC Life’s content here takes on the oldest stereotypes in the book- showing judgemental and harsh seniors pitted against fun-loving and successful youth. The messaging unfortunately is lost in stereotyping and ambivalence.

Musical videos and anthems are essential components of youth culture. They have been used frequently to engage the audience successfully and often become very popular, for instance, Airtel Friendship anthems:

Har Friend Zaroori Hai:

Jo Mera Hai, Wo Tera Hai:

But anthems are now losing appeal and so is the conviction that youth thrive on excitement. It is a cliche that has been done to death and hence comes across as stale. A few brands are thus coming up with creative ways to engage:

Poetry - PGIM India Mutual Funds

With the advent of literary festivals like Rekhta or Jaipur Literature Festival and the popularity of slam poetry, the youth today are quite interested in the medium. Keeping the trend in mind, PGIM India Mutual Funds produced a video featuring a spoken-word poem.

The poem (as opposed to a fun anthem) adds gravitas to the topic of financial planning. Although it also uses the stereotype of “mast-maula” (or reckless) youth, the message is not limited by it. The poem etches serious images related to loans and other financial products.

Thus, it treats youths as mature audiences capable of handling content on momentous themes. All in all, serious issues are talked about seriously and not reduced to fun-frolic just because the message is aimed at a young population.

#KaunDumbHai - The Condom Alliance

Formed by major health and pharmaceutical stakeholders, The Condom Alliance aims to expand and promote the condom market.

The music video featuring a mime artist was released by the alliance in February, earlier this year. The title is a witty word-play on the word condom. Although it is a music video, the narrative is simple yet fresh. It shows a young man who picks up a box of condoms on the way to his girlfriend’s house.

The lyrics are thoughtfully written and mention consensual as well as responsible sex. By keeping the overall vibe light - the video makes sure it keeps the element of pleasure intact too while advocating for safe sex.

The Finance Magazine - L&T Mutual Funds

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A post shared by L&T Mutual Fund (

The Finance Magazine is a social media magazine by L&T Mutual Funds with an aim to decode the perceived complexity associated with financial investments. The online magazine employs creative info-graphics to demystify investments.

Not only is the method more economical to produce than say an anthem, but it is also well-suited for products that thrive on a culture of sharing information. Moreover, such a format is quite appropriate for a demographic that uses social media voraciously. It is time-efficient and sits well with the information-hungry GenZ.

More examples from social media include the use of tools like IGTV, Reels, etc as evident in the content strategies of brands such as The Indian Ethnic Co. among others:

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A post shared by The Indian Ethnic Co. (@theindianethnicco)


When it comes to striking a conversation with the youth, anthems riding high on adrenaline seem now to be outdated. Given the demographic structure of India’s population, youth as an audience for brands are likely to continue in importance for some time to come. Hence, it becomes imperative for brands to find newer genres and formats with which to engage youth audiences. 

The youth today is interested in deeper dialogue and explanatory graphics. Short films/music videos with elaborate narratives and performance poetry are newer genres and formats which can provide brands with meaningful ways to engage with the youth. Furthermore, good use of social tools such as reels or infographics can help get a hold over the ‘scrolling’ generations.