The Generation After Millennials Wants to Be Called “The Founders”



This event took place at Social Media Week in New York. You can get the SMW Insider Digital Subscription to access the full video of this event and 60+ other #SMWNYC sessions.


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In a session at SMW New York, we heard a discussion from MTV talking about the generation after millennials, the “Founders”. The panel included Tom Fishman (SVP of Audience Growth and Engagement at MTV), Jane Gould (SVP of Consumer Insights and Research at MTV), Alison Hillhouse (VP of Insights Innovation at MTV), and Taylor Trudon (Voices Editor for MTV News). The discussion was moderated by Natan Edelsburg (EVP at Muck Rack & Shorty Awards and the Executive Editor for The Drum’s Found Remote.

Jane began by discussing how MTV came up with the term “Founders”. “We were monitoring and working closely with the next generation, and watching and listening to all the names that were out there for them.”

She told us how “the beauty of this was that we didn’t push this name onto the kids. We worked with kids ages 13-14, and listened to how they feel about themselves and their generation.”

Alison got into the actual process on how MTV and these kids worked together to create a name for themselves, “Founders”. “We got really creative kids to talk about their generation and what they thought about themselves, and did some naming exercises based on those thoughts. We were super impressed by how aware these kids were about their generation”

Eventually, as she said, the “Founders” rose to the top among the kids surveyed. “They felt like their generation was setting a new foundation for this country.” Alison added, “these are the new generation of founding fathers.”

Natan asked the panel about the shifts they’ve seen on how Millennials and Founders use social media differently. According to Tom, “In about 2014, we started to see teenagers begin to interact a lot using one-to-one apps.”

With this change, Tom noted marketers had to then “go in and learn the rules of engagement in these new platforms. You need to have fluent cultural experts in each one.”

Taylor spoke about how the Founders are consuming the news. I think “there is a huge misconception that the Founders don’t care about the news and aren’t tapped in to what’s going on. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. They’re accessing the news the same way as we are, mostly through mobile devices. They aren’t just using Snapchat for sending each other inside jokes. They’re learning about the Syrian crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement through channels like Snapchat.”

Natan also brought up the question of whether or not they believe the term Founders will actually stick. As Taylor said, “I think it will stick. I saw a really positive reaction from today’s teens when hearing about the name. While they haven’t necessarily founded anything yet, it’s laying the foundation. To me, it’s this futuristic, positive, association.”

“I think that they’ve accepted and embraced this name,” said Tom. “Finding a name was not a branding exercise for MTV. The idea was to learn. We wanted to get a better sense as to what makes a generation tick and what’s important to them.”

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