Comedy Is the Most Effective Way to Reach Millennials, Research Finds

Millennials to candidates: Humor me!

Here’s a fact that should interest President Barack Obama, Governor Mitt Romney, and anyone else with even a passing interest in the outcome of elections: There are 80 million Americans in the Millennial generation, ages 16-32.  To put that number in perspective, there are just as many Millennials as Boomers and twice as many as Gen Xers.  And 60% of Millennials say that they are extremely or somewhat likely to vote – that’s almost 50 million votes.

Leading up to the 2012 election, Comedy Central partnered with TRU Insights and Insight Research to conduct an extensive research study seeking to define, frame, and understand what role humor plays in Millennials’ political beliefs, behaviors and capturing their vote.

Key findings include:

  • Do not underestimate Millennials: they are very aware of what’s going on in politics.  And they are involved and influential.
  • When it comes to political comedies, they don’t watch to get informed; they watch because they are informed.
  • What a candidate thinks is funny tells Millennials who they really are.
  • Politicians must leverage humor to connect with Millennials: this generation needs humor, and they’re saying it will shape their votes.

5 Ways to Win the Millennial Vote through Humor

  • 1.    Avoid political hack.  Save the joke writers for AARP night. You can’t force funny with young voters.  Millennials want a candidate with a genuine sense of humor.  Note: unintentional comedy doesn’t count.  Two words: Clint Eastwood.
  • 2.    Keep foot out of mouth.  Don’t make light of serious issues, as fun as that is.  As much as Millennials love a good laugh, they are fiercely compassionate.  They want candidates with solutions, not wisecracks.
  • 3.    Take a joke.  It’s ok for a candidate to make fun of himself.  Humor humanizes, and a well-timed joke at one’s own expense shows personality and self-awareness.  Just don’t make fun of your opponent, that’s the job of professional comedians
  • 4.    Be sharp and smart.  An intelligent sense of humor allows you to demonstrate cool confidence without arrogance.  More than any other generation, Millennials like a little insight with their humor.
  • 5.    Stay up late.  Do an interview with a respected late night comedian.  They’re a great way to connect with the electorate.  Not only will you have a professional host to keep things from stalling, but you’ll be allowed to lighten up.  No one is expecting you to be in Oval Office mode while you’re on the couch next to Jennifer Aniston and Justin Bieber.