I just spent a couple days at the YPulse Youth Marketing Mashup East which was held on the campus of Boston University. As usual, it was a fantastic event! Congrats to Anastasia and the Modern Media team for putting together a really informative, fun and relevant event.
I have a few longer posts about the event brewing in my noggin that I hope to push out here on Barking Robot sometime next week. But I had a couple quick thoughts and highlights from the event that I'd like to share while it's still fresh in ye olde noggin.
On Boston: The more time I spend in this city, the deeper I fall in love with it. New England in the fall is something that everyone should experience. One morning I took a walk along the Charles River. The tree's were heavy with orange, yellow and red foliage, the ground was still wet from the overnight rain and rowers glided silently up and down the Charles. Stunning.
On Boston University: Graceful old buildings, a deep sense of history and lots of energy oozing from the student body. Just fantastic. One morning on my way to the YPulse event, I passed the campus chapel and a beautiful sculpture of doves flying up into the sky. At the base of the monument, students had placed bundles upon bundles of flowers. I was curious, but I was also running late, so I didn't have time to learn more.
The YPulse event was opened by Dean Kenneth Elmore, Dean of Students at Boston University. He started with a super energetic and warm welcome to Boston the city and Boston the University. Dean Elmore was full of passion, energy and enthusiasm. As part of his keynote, he spoke about President-Elect Obama, collaboration, community and how great things can be accomplished when we work together. It was very inspiring.
Dean Elmore also took a moment to explain more about the bundles of flowers being left at the base of the sculpture I had seen earlier in the day. The sculpture is a memorial to one of the greatest alumnus ever to study at Boston University--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The morning after Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America, students began to spontaneously leave flowers at the MLK monument to honor Dr. King and his contributions, sacrifice and role in making the Obama presidency a reality. It gave me chills.
We need more people like Dean Elmore in the world.
On Virgin Mobile: Ron Faris from Virgin Mobile USA gave a really fantastic presentation on the Virgin Mobile Festival and Pro-Social Initiatives. He started by having everyone text "karma" to 68405. He then told us that for every text, American Eagle would donate a hoodie to homeless teen. Way to go Virgin Mobile!
Ron's presentation was really, really interesting. Virgin Mobile, and the Virgin brand, have done some really innovative, creative and interesting work in the music, pro-social, marketing and branding space. He also talked about the mobile and texting habits of Gen Y and how Virgin is leveraging mobile to engage and market to youth. You can read more on the live blog transcript.
At the end of his presentation, he mentioned that Virgin Mobile next pro-social cause is to become an advocate on the issue of homeless teens. Virgin Mobile will be launching an awareness campaign in the next couple of weeks. Want to hear something shocking? According to research conducted by Virgin Mobile, there are approximately 1 million homeless teens in the United States of America.
These teens are homeless for a variety of reasons ranging from being kicked out by their parents due to sexual orientation, abusive parents or being abandoned. This figure just floored me. I've spent a lot of time working with homeless adults and mothers with children, but I was woefully ignorant on the subject of homeless teens.
I spoke to the Virgin Mobile team about their homeless teen campaign and I will keep everyone here at Barking Robot updated on how you can help out. I feel very strongly that the education technology community should be actively and passionately involved in this issue. Homeless teens are an education issue.
On SurveyU & MTV: Dan Coates from SurveyU gave a really interesting and relevant presentation titled, What Every Brand Could Learn from the Obama Campaign's Marketing to College Students. He shared lots of really good information, far too much to share here, but you can read more over on the YPulse Live Blog. SurveyU also had a very, very interesting report titled, What Happens to Media as Millennial Take Control?, that I'll blog about in-depth next week.
Dan Hart, SVP MTV Digital, also gave a very insightful presentation, Engaging Viewers Through Multiple Screens, where he talked about MTV's strategy to meet the demands and viewing habits of their (mostly) Gen Y viewers.
One example of how MTV was meeting the always on media habits of Gen Y was Backchannel --a social and interactive platform that allows "fans gather to talk about The Hills as it happens! Type your thoughts and don't hold back! Other players award points with a click of their mouse on the best comments. When it's your turn to click, earn points by predicting the comments you think will be the most popular." Mr. Hart said that this multi-channel approach has been wildly successful and popular.
On YPulse: As usual, this was a fantastic event. The next YPulse Mashup will be held in San Francisco on June 1 & 2, 2009. If you work with youth in education, technology, social services or marketing, you should--no you need--to attend the 2009 YPulse Mashup.
And now, time for that nap...