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If it worked for Obama...

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...perhaps it will work for the UK's House of Lords? I'm speaking, of course, about reaching out to youth about politics through YouTube and other online social media.

Today the Associated Press reports that Britain's House of Lords is aiming to soften its image with young people through a series of video shorts highlighting the legislative body's import for British history. The effort - which will consist mainly of interviews done with a pop music background - is also coupled with a newly launched House of Lords blog.

Using blogs, music videos, virtual worlds and video games is a tactic that many US marketers of finance and insurance products are investing in to appeal to youth. Recent examples include Wells Fargo's virtual world for smart spending and Bank of America's use of Mo Rocca's comedy in online video ads.

There is an assumption that this sort of initiative is necessary to entertain Millennials in order to get them to pay attention to issues like voting, banking and health insurance. Strange, this group demonstrates a desire for voice in government as well as personal wealth and health security. Should these "boring" topics really be a tough sell?

Results from these campaigns are still emerging and carry an important takeaway. Companies that enter into a new medium and slap some glitter puff paint to an unchanging corporate message (Who remembers The Hub?) still seem to fail with Generation Y. But companies that focus their appeals to youth around a solid value proposition for the always-plugged-in consumer (Great example: WSJ's Loomia) are merely leveraging new channels to build their street cred with youth.

McLuhan was right: the medium is the message. But marketers should know that their message has to stand up in any medium with buying power, and the only way to do that is understand the product or service's value for the audience.

For more thoughts on social media's role in marketing's future, check out next week's Gloves Off debate: "What works on social networking sites?"
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