Vimla: [00:00:00] Hi, I'm
Tim: [00:00:01] hello. I'm Tim Panton
Vimla: [00:00:02] and you're listening to the Dristributed futures podcast, but we have guests come on and talk about their interpretation of what's happening in technology now and in the future. Today's guest is Hayel Wartemberg, who I funnily enough and to university with and lost contact with until very recently when I saw some of his work on LinkedIn and thought he'd be an amazing person to have on, mainly to talk about something that we've not really touched on.
On the podcast yet, and that's youth culture in the power of influencers. And it's interesting that we've not really focused on it because it's such a huge part of our everyday lives that we probably forget is even there. We forget the power of kind of other people's opinions on what we're doing.
Tim: [00:00:49] Yeah. I mean, I think partly.
It's always been there. It's somewhat relabeled as influencers, but you always like, you know, the brand ambassadors or the face of Chanel or whatever is being, that's a long, that's a long running kind of concept, but, but it's now social media has changed it obviously.
Vimla: [00:01:13] Yeah, massively so. And it's leveled the playing field in ways I really hadn't anticipated.
and from perspective as well, opening up the conversation to groups of people that are probably often ignored. And one of the kind of most famous things that he worked on was, and I don't know how much was in the news in, in your kind of Circles Tim, but the, anti knife campaigns on chicken boxes, did you see that.
Tim: [00:01:42] I didn't, but I knew about sort of the general thing, the general campaign.
Vimla: [00:01:49] So there was a big government initiative to put, anti knife campaigns, slogans, stories on the, on advertising and chicken shop, chicken boxes. So had massively racist undertones. it was racial profiling. It was. A huge stereotype of the kind of people that would be using knives and take part in gang culture.
So, Word on the Curb, the company that hire works for kind of lobbied government through really simple methodology that he speaks about in our conversation. But, just standing at a tube station in London and getting passes by to write down messages. That they would prefer to see on chicken boxes, taking them to, to government.
And it's actually, you know, the disconnect between the people making the policies and putting stuff out into the world. And the reality of actually what it's like to experience it is so far, it's so disjointed. But, and what's more important is those kinds of policies and governments implements is not what people are listened to anyway, and they just hit they, they were so off the Mark.
Tim: [00:03:02] Yeah. I mean, I think that's, that's very common with, with sort of well-meaning government initiatives that are being filtered by, through, through so many people who have absolutely no idea of the context. But like, you know, sitting around a nice table in some office somewhere, it sounded like a good idea.
But in reality, there's no relation and in love it's to do with how it's pitched as well. And I've been in those meetings when somebody kind of come in with the right attitude and in the right pitch and you can see that the thing is just not going to work. But like. Everyone's behind it, and yeah, it's going to happen.
Whether you like it or not, you know,
Vimla: [00:03:50] let's just say it's so many furiating. But the positive side of it is the, is the power of social media and, and voices to talk against it or to have that conversation in a different way that has not existed before.
Tim: [00:04:10] Right. That it's genuinely different now. I mean, I don't, yeah. I suppose social media does enable a direct channel that wasn't there before, or relatively direct channel that wasn't there before.
Vimla: [00:04:24] Yeah. I think it does. I think, I think you . or conversation and you know, if you go back to kind of the Arab spring and the power of numbers and getting behind the movement online, that just wouldn't have happened before.
Tim: [00:04:42] Yeah, sure. Very funny thing on Twitter the other day, like saying somebody saying, well, what did you old people do when you got angry before you.
Vimla: [00:04:51] Yeah, exactly. Where did we complain before?
Tim: [00:04:54] What? Right, exactly.
Vimla: [00:04:56] Well,
Tim: [00:05:00] no, you're right that somebody explained, you wrote a letter to the editor of your local newspaper who might print it in a week time, and then you might get an answer in three weeks time, and if you didn't like the answer. Then a month later you could write again and they might print it. Yeah.
Vimla: [00:05:17] Yeah. It's funny because, my dad will phone and complain about things that he's annoyed by and, and I'm not, I just never would ever pick up the phone to complain, but it's probably the quickest and easiest way of doing it, but I still just wouldn't, it's not my go to.
Tim: [00:05:36] I think it depends on, on. What you're complaining about and whether it's something that they can do anything about, because like, you know, the call center staff are very restricted in, often in what they can actually change. you know, they've got some level of freedom of movement and it very much depends from one company to another, but like ringing them up and giving them.
Like telling them what's wrong with their business may not be something they can do anything about, apart from like taking out and give it to their manager. Maybe if enough people do that works, but I don't know. It's complicated that,
Vimla: [00:06:17] yeah. Yeah, it is.
Tim: [00:06:20] So do you think that government is listening to social media or does it have to be presented
Vimla: [00:06:25] to them?
I think asked to be presented at the moment. I don't think. I don't, I think there's too much to be able to listen to. Mmm. And I think they kind of, e petitions that you get and lobbying platforms like that, she do make a difference when, when, once they get to a certain number, I think that is when, when people listen to it.
Tim: [00:06:51] Okay. Interesting. And is that like, do you think it's. National campaigns or regional ones, or,
Vimla: [00:07:02] I think it's regional. I think it depends on where the voices are coming from. I mean, Hayel is working predominantly in London, which makes it always, the proximity makes it easier to have those conversations with people in power, which is, this is just a sad, reality.
Your borders, like in the UK, it's kind of. It's easier to get stuff done when you're down South.
Tim: [00:07:28] Yeah. Yeah. We, we definitely know that in the Northwest, but you have to get on a train and go to a meeting in London before something happens, which is so frustrating. Yeah. But. Do we like? Did you get a sense that this is actually going to improve things?
Vimla: [00:07:52] Yeah. Well, yes, and I didn't expect that. I actually came out of the, again, came out of the conversation feeling really positive that actually there's so much hope in how young people's perspective is. Cha is changing on online. And for the first time in ages I felt really old because I just didn't. Yeah.
I anticipate that at all. And I, and I realize my own disconnect from young perspectives now is actually what the internet can and will do.
Tim: [00:08:29] That's interesting. Cause I don't, I don't know what that, yeah, it's hard to see what that looks like. I think some of the things we've talked about, like it's going to influence that.
Like, you know, the ability to assemble a group quite quickly is really interesting and that kind of stuff
Vimla: [00:08:50] and it has to meet in the middle of somewhere. Like a lot of the future thinking that we're talking about on here, especially in terms of AI and data and you know, the big concepts have to meet with the kind of up and coming uses of technology of the internet.
Now. But I think, but yeah, I just hadn't, I just don't know enough about how our young people are using the internet and have had an insight into that. And it really blew my mind with what is being done at the moment, which is so out of my realm of reality.
Tim: [00:09:28] Well, that's really good. I mean, that's exactly what this podcast is for.
I mean, it's interesting that it's like happening to you. Normally it's me that gets it.
Vimla: [00:09:37] Yeah, it's great. It's really, really good. And obviously a lot of the conversation was talking about, social injustice and the, the difficulties in bridging that gap between big brands and their traditions and big organizations and how they've always done things to what people and consumers and young people want now.
And there's so much stigma and misunderstanding and just. Not recognizing the nuance in how we all think and feel, not only in different ages with different cultures and different backgrounds and all of those things that I think the recognition of that is changing.
Tim: [00:10:24] That's interesting. Cause it like, it harks back to one of the things we were saying.
Gosh. That Colin Mayer was talking about organizations, not that people don't want to work, work for organizations that don't reflect their values and that people are more than now, more, selective about that to the extent they can be and that it matters to them. in a way that I think, I don't know if we did in the past to the same
Vimla: [00:10:55] extent.
I think there was less choice as well. And it was harder to find those opportunities. Whereas now you can do a Google search of a tech for good company, Manchester, and see what comes up. Where is that just didn't you just couldn't
Tim: [00:11:13] before. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I think, but there's also the thing about the loyalty that, like, it used to be that it was a two way street, and I think people don't, Mmm.
It's a differently now.
Vimla: [00:11:26] Yeah. Well, loyalty is, it is, you know, I'm one to speak from. This is a very unique now, like I've had, I think I counted, I've had nine jobs in six years.
Tim: [00:11:39] Wow.
Vimla: [00:11:40] Yes.
Tim: [00:11:42] I mean, I always laugh, like when they try and offer me a loyalty card in Starbucks or whatever it is, and then I'm thinking the disloyal, you know,
But the, yeah, no, I mean, I think we're all kind of making, what's the word? There's a lovely word about portmanteau careers. We're all stitching careers together now, rather than having a job for life, which
Vimla: [00:12:09] is probably better actually, I think so. A big part of it for me is accepting I'm going to be working for the majority of my life, so why would I wait?
What I've got. Time to waste, so I might as well just switch around and find what I like and explore and make sure I'm happy rather than wasting all of that time doing something I don't enjoy.
Tim: [00:12:33] Oh, yeah. For sure. I mean, I think that's right. I think the only problem is sometimes it takes a while to find out how to enjoy a job like that.
That initial couple of months is always but horrific. Unless I suppose, unless the induction is really good,
Vimla: [00:12:54] really,
Tim: [00:12:56] I never, I never feel like I know what I'm doing.
Vimla: [00:13:02] Yeah. It's interesting. It's all really interesting.
Tim: [00:13:05] Cool. So yeah, any, any kind of big shocks we should listen to listen out for in this.
Vimla: [00:13:12] Just for me, it was an insight into youth culture and what that is and was probably the biggest shock for me and given us a topic of the podcast. It sums it all up. Cool.
Tim: [00:13:25] Well, excellent. I'm looking forward to listening to it.
Vimla: [00:13:29] Great. Thank you. Alright, bye.
Tim: [00:13:32] Bye.
Vimla: [00:13:33] hi, it's Vimla Appadoo and you are listening to the distributed futures podcast where we talk about trending topics now and what it's gonna look like in the future.
Today I've got Hayel Wartemberg with me to talk about the work that he does with Word on the Curb and to think about what's going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years. Hayel, would you like to introduce yourself.
Hayel: [00:13:53] Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me on Vimla. so yeah Hayel Wartemberg the, I guess 27 year old cofounder of wet on a cab, which is a youth culture agency, we're based in Northwest London.
and our mission is to, really help to drive you youth engagement, by cocreating and designing campaigns with millennials and gen Zed, with. the intention of helping brands to understand the trends that drive, youth engagement, in, in, in a really kind of cohesive and sophisticated way.
but yeah, we're passionate about young people. We're passionate about youth culture. we're passionate about allowing younger people's voices, their stories that. Yeah. I guess their experience in life experiences in life to, to be given a platform to
Vimla: [00:14:46] yeah, absolutely is. And it's so important at the moment.
I think, you know, the recent, outcomes of elections and votes have really shown the influencZ that young people can have in determining what happens. You kind of mentioned gen Zed millennials that, and I know who they are, so many different terms floating around for what they mean. How do you describe that?
The different generations of
Hayel: [00:15:07] people. How do I define, yeah. I mean, there's, there's so much conjecture and so much confusion when it comes to, these two, these terms. I think typically a millennial, is, is seen as anybody born between the years of 1980 and 2000. So there, there is quite there. You know, there's quite blurred lines.
And, understandably so because there is crossover then with what would commonly be referred to as gen Zed as well gen Zed. You know, those in generations. Zed also seen as being kind of from the S 2000 been born in the years 2000 and on. But, but it's, it's typically shaped by their experiences and their relationship with the digital age.
And typically, you know, generations, Zed babies, if you were are digital natives. Yeah. We experienced, the technological boom, with the internet at their fingertips, with someone like myself who I would consider myself to be a millennial. I guess I was teetering on that boundary born in 1992 where I still, And, and I think similarly to yourself, we can, we can probably both remember the dial up era of having four television channels on one to five before it was one to five. And just all of the kinds of implications that that brings for our, day to day interactions, how we form relationships with one another and how we communicate with, in our groups and with the world at large.
There's, there seems to be, you know, kind of discernible differences between people from those two generations.
Vimla: [00:16:59] 2000 is a really big age by more, so, you know, there might be a 20 year age gap between people that consider themselves millennials. I really liked what you said about, you know, it's based on the experiences that you have rather than the age you might interact with technology or your understandings might be exactly the same.
Hayel: [00:17:19] True. Well, I find is that the, Well, we experienced as millennials was, I guess the, the nascent days and the, the embryonic days of, of, the information age. And so the transparency with regard to the information that was accorded to us, meant that we were able to utilize that information, for a transformation almost for like a modern day enlightenment.
Similar to what. Would have taken place, in the days of the French revolution. But. What generation Zed, babies I guess have done is now utilized that information and leveraged it for political purposes, for social gain, social leverage in young people now, transforming themselves into brands in and of themselves.
Now taking on the establishment probably with far more vigor and more robustly than millennials. Yeah,
Vimla: [00:18:25] that's really interesting because I see that, disparity getting even wider in the, you know, with the internet, we have more access to knowledge than we've ever had before.
Hayel: [00:18:37] And
Vimla: [00:18:38] the approach to how you use that as far as the different between older generations versus younger generations.
So. Whereas if you grow up without the internet, you probably would just talk to accept what you, what you read in a book as fact. And that's it. And you don't really have the tools to challenge it, whereas you kind of are given those tools and understanding to challenge it. But I think that's where this kind of tension between older generations and younger generations really exists because it's not out of lack of respect or lack of, Understanding is actually, but I know that I can figure this out for myself, or I can find other resources that give me a different perspective and I can form my own opinions around it. What's lost in the communication a bit?
Hayel: [00:19:24] Yeah, definitely. I think, I think just even the differences that I, experience in the household I grew up in.
And how. resistant to technological changes. My mom was so frequently, she would lambast me for being obsessed with the internet. Even though for me, it was a real fountain of, of Nottage opportunity for me to acquire, a whole breadth of information that I, you know, would equip me, really with, with life skills.
Just kind of how my mum responded to it with such disdain. For me, it was such an exemplification of, of this generational gap. and, and the implication that that can have for, Social mobility I think are quite, quite interesting because if you grow up in a house where, as you said, there is that friction.
and the friction is, is, is a serious one, isn't just. Isn't just kind of like, you know, an old versus young, you know, like throw away comments and there's actually, you know, the internet is ruining your life. You need to stop. It can have, some quite serious implications on, even, employability and so I think it's incumbent on us as a society to, Help people from different generations to understand both the positive and negative implications of,
sorry. Yeah, no. Yeah, for sure. And I guess just understand, understanding it from, from everything, from employment to, to what it means for our life chances in general from housing to benefits to our access to. To state care now is being funneled through this, this social phenomena we call the internet, and so long as we can help.
Each other to understand it in its entirety, then we'll be in a far better place to have a progressive interaction.
Vimla: [00:21:36] Yeah. And it's interesting that that kind of is not just the generational differences, it's the cultural differences too. So, but growing up for me, in a traditional Indian heritage household, the, the computer was in my brother's room.
Growing up, which meant me and my sister just didn't have access to that technology until he moved out of home. And that's, you know, it's something that's so unspoken and so accepted in different cultures that actually, it's a massive hurdle to understanding your role or ability to utilize that. And, you know, and I wonder how many of those conversations just aren't had at the moment.
Hayel: [00:22:19] Yeah, I mean, I grew up in a, in a Ghanaian household as well. so, you know, but I guess there would be similarities there in terms of your, South Asian heritage and my West African heritage. In terms of, you know, some of the, I guess implications of, of, of the internet. And, for me, what I find particularly interesting now is that, as I've got older, because there's been such a proliferation of.
Of technology and of the usage of the internet, you know, it's in everybody's households now, across across the world. My mom has almost been forced to embrace it. and. Okay. What I'm now seeing are the effects of that in that she's now, she's actually now probably spread, spreading more disinformation, misinformation, and more, information that is probably quite, malignant and dangerous for her, psyche.
But, but she's taking it on as things that she believes to be true. She's sending me these WhatsApp messages every day with. information, I can research and find out that isn't true because there hasn't been, because as a society, we haven't had the opportunity to reconcile with what seemed to be pretty much an overnight shift there.
There's been like a. I guess in gulf, in the educative process around how do we deal now with the fact that we have a whole load of information. In in our ecosystem and trying to distinguish between what is true and what's false, what's reality and what's fiction. And while somebody like myself as a younger person would like to feel that I have a more discernible eye and a more analytical eye in terms of I'm able to, you know.
Handle different sets of data and articles and so on and so forth and say, yeah, this is false. This is true, I believe. I think actually what's happening is there is such a, ultimately what's happening is that because there's so much out there is, is so overwhelming. Nobody really knows concretely what is true and what's not. And that's what I find to be quite an interesting. Kind of intergenerational problem that we're facing now.
Vimla: [00:24:52] Yeah. Well, I've really noticed as well, I can completely resonate with the WhatsApp conversations like it was just yesterday.
My dad went, well, I read this at school that said, there's old Indian remedies actually, the cure for coronavirus. I don't think so. And he was like, you haven't even seen it. And I'm like, okay, show me it. And it wasn't an article, it was a WhatsApp message that had been forwarded to him. There were no links or references in it.
So I was like, what? What makes you think this is real? What makes you think this? This is factual. And I said, if I were you, I would Google the guy that. Like, you know, reading this or written this and see what comes up. Yeah, no, no, it's fine. I just, I guess it's not true and I meant like, look at it, see it, understand it.
I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying do some more research. And I think that's the bit mass, like big, big differences. Just taking it, not understanding it, and taking it and then talking about it. This is more and more people saying, Oh, I've read an article about this, and they've seen a Facebook post, and it's a real interesting shift in, just what we call things and how we see things.
It's like, I've seen the headline, I've read the bub, and therefore I think I've read the article.
Hayel: [00:26:11] And I think that's, you know, for me, in terms of my experience with young people that. that are all kind of incumbent, in our community is the gen Zed young people, quote unquote, without, you know, using these labels to w w we're too much of a fixed day, but the, the, the younger people that exist within our communities for me seem to be, I guess the, the most distinguishable difference for me is that they seem to be more rigorously challenging.
You know, these concepts of, of, of truth. And whereas, you know, my peers and my counterparts seem to be wanting to, challenge brands and collaborate with brands who are, you know, who are creating content or delivering content that, is for the masses. You know, gen generation, Zed young people want to be independently, you know, seen as themselves and authentically seen as themselves and seen as brands themselves.
and, and are probably far less, willing to be swayed by a Facebook, Facebook article and would like, you know, swap up all the information themselves and distribute that information through their own mediums and through their own verticals. and ask the public to. To check the veracity or, so that, you know, that, that is something that I, I find to be, Very interesting amongst that generation is, is the pragmatism where, you know, we are probably slightly more idealistic and, you know, I mean, even, even, seems to carry on over into their spending habits there, there seems to be far more of a, Energy around saving money and an acknowledgement around the fact that they have, particularly, particularly in the UK, have lived, you know, for almost 10 years of austerity and understanding that, as a result of these things, pragmatism is, is, is, is paramount.
Making sure that they are. Better equipped than than we were for a rainy day and for the future even more important. And so I think that it all feeds into this. This cocktail of distrust of the world and distrust of authority, but not just distrust, which us as millennials face, but a willingness to, to take on or authority and to become the new status quo.
Vimla: [00:28:50] That is really interesting you say that, and I actually, I literally just had a really horrible moment of going, Oh crap. People born in year 2000 are 20 now.
Hayel: [00:29:00] Yeah.
Vimla: [00:29:01] And you were saying, Jen Zed, I was like, Oh, but they're still really young. They're older. That's not it anymore.
Hayel: [00:29:09] They don't see themselves as really, fortunately, what social, because social media has been such, Mmm.
A catalyst for, Mmm. I guess, how would you call it? It is, it is the desire for us to want everything now and, you know, instant, instant validation and instant gratification. You know, they're seeing all of their peers, with, with houses and cars by the age of 23 on Instagram and thinking that it's, you know, the rule of thumb rather than the exception to the rule.
Yeah. And that, you know, almost their expectations for themselves are lower than they were. you know, 15 years ago for people like us or our and, the generation above us, you know, I guess getting married by 30 and having kids by 30 is no longer acceptable, is, is, is five years younger. And having, having your shit together as it were by twenty one is far more salient to them.
Vimla: [00:30:21] Yeah.
Hayel: [00:30:22] They don't, they don't, they don't see themselves as young. They see them old and aging and they've probably, you know, they've, they've got their biological clock and it's actually really sad. I see it. I frequently have young people coming into our offices and telling me that they're, you know, at the age of 19, that they just feel like they're running out of time and wanting to, Get like some sort of life plan in action. And I sit down with them and, and, and, and I, I frequently tell them that they don't need to take on the world all at once. Now they, that they ought to, To try things and experience life in its entirety without paying so much pressure on themselves forces so much pressure on them now.
And so there's such an oval, such a capacity for, for social media to be very overwhelming way young people's minds, with, with. Such velocity that they, they think that they're 30 before they're even 20
Vimla: [00:31:23] yeah. And I, I've noticed that even with it within my, my peer group of just people seeming to want to settle and be recognized as an adult a lot earlier than.
Me weird like moment of why is, why is that all of a sudden this need to prove that you can like have a house and have a home and have a family. It feels like it's happened overnight. It's been this sudden shift of like, this is, this is life now. This is just what is happening. Whereas I feel like my sister's seven years older than me and I feel for her generation.
It's not that at all. It's like make the most out of being young. Don't settle down so you're in at least that you thirty five like figure out who you are, what you want to be like. Live your life to the fullest. I feel like that's slowly being amped away or being done for a different means. It's kind of, it's like you say, is that social media influence of, I want to show that that's what I'm like, whether it is all my reality
Hayel: [00:32:27] or not.
Yeah, sure. It's, as I said, it really is. It's a, for me, it's, it's the, it's the marriage of, of, of social media, but also the reality of social circumstance. It's really in places in, in, in your big cities. you know, in places like London where, you know, house prices are skyrocketing, gentrification is, is, is, in overdrive and is, happening right before our very eyes.
and there is now, I guess a recognition on the part of many young people that they have to fend for themselves, not relying on life to take us is its natural course. I mean, it was almost expected for me growing up that I would go to university. At 18, graduate. Got a well-paid with job, find a life partner and a house and settle down and everything would be a Rose gold by, by 30 years old.
Life didn't pan out. But there is an acceptance, I think, amongst generations Zed, that life will not pan out like that and that unless they are the orchestrators of their own. of their own destiny and the authors of their own books. and so they're taking on a lot more of the social stresses,
Vimla: [00:33:55] but kind of, if I don't do it, no one will.
Hayel: [00:33:58] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Vimla: [00:34:00] And so I think we've kind of, we've talking about youth culture at the moment. I think that from what you do at Word on the Curb, and I. The way that you try and engage with communities. What do you use culture as I, what does that norm?
Hayel: [00:34:15] I mean, I, I view almost very simply, I, I view youth culture as all of the things that are important to somebody between the ages of.
16 and 35 and it's, that's predominantly the age group that we work with, particularly when we work with the brands. although our audience of course, in terms of the content that we deliver online is, can often be younger and older. 88% of our audience are actually between the age of 18 and 24 and a half.
Second largest subset is between 16 and 35. I define youth culture in those times because it's typically when young people have the most influence on, On family spend and if they're having a very strong sense of influence on families, but then they're having an influence on the economy because they're influencing how marketers are marketing to families and to the world at large.
brands are interested in the things that young people are interested in because they want to reach them and ultimately they want them to be loyal to them so that they can become. okay. Well, I guess brand ambassadors and people that are paying loyal customers for for many years, and that usually takes, it's most kind of aggressive form at the ages of 16, when young people become more influential in their own lives there, you know.
able, in so many ways to do many things. You'll, you can decide on your own education, educational future. At least you could. When I was a young person, I think now you go and go to school all the way up until 18. but, but at 16, you were able to, to legally have sex and start a family, and, you know, there, there are other avenues that are open, not for you as a, as, as, as a 16 year old that wouldn't be open up to you.
You know. Prior to that age, that's when, we find that young people are. in that stage of their life when they have far more influence over, themselves and, and, and as a result over cultural phenomenon.
Vimla: [00:36:35] Yeah. And in terms of, your, your obviously working with, younger people, but I imagine that the brands you're working with are comprised of a different, completely different age set.
And. The decision makers. I imagine it like, correct me if I'm wrong, but this is based on complete assumptions. I imagine the decision makers are quite far detached from the groups of people that you're working with. So how would you bridge that conversation and understanding
Hayel: [00:37:06] is a constant struggle.
The thing is, we make. Content online that speaks to all of the issues that young people tell us are important to them. you know, relationships and dating, their self perception, self image, stereotypes, employment. We, we tackle all of these things through our content. And so because they seem to have a place in the heart of youth culture and a lot of our content goes viral or is shared, With such, vigor online. It means that that many brands can't ignore the fact that we have some sort of stranglehold over elements of youth culture. And so when they see that, and then the days begin to develop conversations with us, they see that, that, that we know what we're talking about and that we know how to engage young people.
And one thing that I find particularly interesting is a lot of brands. Businesses, organizations, charities, what have you, describe some young people as, as disengaged or as hard to reach, hard to reach. They're just not being, the gap isn't being bridged in, in ways that are of interest to young people themselves.
Everybody can be engaged. It's just a matter of speaking to the things that are important to them.
Vimla: [00:38:34] It's how you have the conversation being spoken at and spoken to. And I think that's where, and that's just in life, you know, people just get that wrong.
Hayel: [00:38:43] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Vimla: [00:38:48] Oh, I was going to ask in particular about the, the knife crime and, chicken shop, demonstrations that you've done and where that came from and the impacts and whether it's met, the expectation of the impact that you want it to have.
Hayel: [00:39:02] so the, the knife free campaign that was, I guess rolled out by the home office, I think about 18 months, ago actually, was something that was always of interest to us because we felt that it, it was probably a little bit wide of the Mark, but then they rolled out the knife free chicken box campaign, in the latter part of 2019, which we really took objection to in the office.
we, we'd seen, It sort of go viral online. and at first we wonder if it was, if it was a joke. So we thought it was a hoax. That's how bad, how bad we thought it was. but then we found out that it was true. and so we just felt, felt that it was incumbent. On us to do something about it and to address it and to tackle it in some way, in some, in some, in a way that is true to the methodologies that we use to engage young people anyway, and to engage, which always starts with insight.
We always care about hearing the opinions, the fours, the feelings, the experiences of young people before we go into any kind of content or marketing campaign with a brand. So, Utilizing that, you know, that that same kind of methodology. We, I, I got myself a chicken shop, chicken outfit from, from Clapham Junction's party, shop, attract attention.
and then we got like a big wooden board from Jewsons, in Stratford, and then went into a local chicken shop outlet and got. Their chicken boxes, about 200 of them and went into, or went just outside Stratford for Westfield, asked the public to write on these chicken boxes in this literally in the same location that is, placed on the, knife free chicken boxes in the same location.
We wanted people to write their own solutions for tackling youth violence in the Capitol. And, and, and the nation a large, and, the response from the public was phenomenal. One, obviously attracted a whole load of attention as, as, as I think you touched on. and we were invited to the home office and had some conversations with them, which seemed to Peter out, but quite recently.
I've re-engaged with, their violence reduction units setting up across, across the country, and, and consulting them on strategy. But I think what, what, for me then, probably the most important outcome is they seem to have kind of rolled back on this, my fried chicken, what's campaign that they're definitely not as prominent anymore.
I'm an and as many outlets. and I think it just really spoke to how racially inflammatory and lazy, you know, just lazy in terms of assumptions about young people spend. That time in chicken shop outlets. And also the thought process behind the fact that on a whim or young person who is probably living a life, which is, we'll riddled with fear, who, who may be carrying a weapon or sores, the fact that, you know, or the idea that they would go into a chicken shop out loud and on a whim.
Decide to give up their weapon or their knife or what, whatever it is on the base of the fact that they've read a positive message while seeing chicken and chips is just farcical, lazy, and insensitive. And so I think there's, there's more work to be done there. And I hope that. we can take things further with the home office and guide them further.
Because I think what we did not want to do is to, is to aimlessly ridicule the home office. We'll be able to do, they have a role to play in helping to heal, the city or nation a large. but we wanted to undermine the campaign, but also. Say to them, Hey, look, if you guys need, kind of, more expertise in this area, talk to us and we can help you.
and we can help you by co-designing far more sophisticated ways of engaging, this nation's young people. By. Engaging the young people in our community. I mean, people who have been affected and are continuously affected by these issues. You know, with that, it wasn't, we didn't blindly go into this campaign and fel feel as if we were the right people to, to address such an issue.
You know, I grew up in on a, on a council estate in Southwest London, whereby whenever I go back, I have to walk past two murals of two young people who I knew, you know, growing up who were killed on that estate. You know, yards from, from my front door. It's is something that's close to home is something that I've.
have continuously dealt with over the duration of my life. So it's, it's, it's not a foreign subject to me, subject to my, to my counterparts, with my colleagues and my team. And so we just felt it was important for us to speak about it and address it in a way that was authentic or true to the fact that, we, we care about young people and care about leveraging their voices.
Vimla: [00:44:29] Yeah, 100%. And I think it's, it screams to me that, that kind of quick, trivial solution to this hard-hitting problem that people, the people that were making those decisions probably had no understanding of. And it doesn't take a lot to try and ask people what's going on or to build empathy. And I think that's what frustrated me the most is you have.
You have organizations out there doing the leg work and doing it day in, day out, and it doesn't take a lot to just ask. And that what's frustrating,
Hayel: [00:45:06] continuously frustrating. and, we see it, we see it day in, day out, and that, to be honest with so many different organizations who reach out to us or that we begin conversations with.
Yeah. Particularly kind of historically. or how can I say this by being nice? they, they just have sort of an antiquated value system and on, really ready, you know, they, they pretend to be ready to, to, to want to engage young people, but probably because they're making, The majority of the revenue from a customer base, which is much older that they, they're, they're scared off by it by doing anything remotely risky or speaking to young people directly.
And it's just, it's just a recipe for failure because these young people will one day not be young people. They will one day be. You know, 45 years old will have their loyalties with other organizations and brand. Because you know, these, as I said, historically, antiquated brands haven't taken the time. or invested the time to understand their wants, desires, needs and truth.
And yeah, it is. It's, it's a continuously frustrating job to, to try and carry over the message that young people matter, not just from a commercial point of view, of course, because that's not what drives us. but from a, a social, angle because. Ultimately what matters most.
Vimla: [00:46:50] Oh yeah. It's the same. You know?
We as young people want to build the future that we grow old in, and that's what's, that's big part of the conversations that that's missing is, you know, I'm not causing a fast because. Because I think you're racist. I'm causing a fuss because I don't want to grow old in a society where that's still the case.
Let's have that conversation now. Let's figure it out. Let's problem solve. And I don't, I don't think people see it like that. It's, you know, we live in a triggered society where it's an argument, not a conversation, and it's really difficult to try and bring it back to, to a conversation.
Hayel: [00:47:34] Yeah, I mean,
I don't know how much more I can add to that. Yeah. I feel like you're pretty much done with that.
Vimla: [00:47:44] Thank you. It'd be cool to kind of spend the last 15 or 20 minutes talking about what we, what you see the future looking like and how you see the work that you do, the shifts in culture, like how you see it transforming.
Hayel: [00:47:59] Well, I, I have a strong feeling, particularly with regard to young people and this, Mmm. Digital and social, Mmm. Hybrid age that, influencer and culture will, will die. And that. the young people who are influencers will become the traditional brands.
And I can see that shift happening in the next sort of 10 to 20 years. Actually, the reason I say that is because, just that there was such an increased transparency now around the collaborative efforts between brands and influencers. And. You know, this whole hashtag ad era and the fact that we're all being sold to in and we are all, being marketed to all the time.
but as money is changing hands and as brands are continuously throwing a whole load of, Yeah. I guess finance is to these, to these young, young people now, the young people are now utilizing these resources to develop their own brands in their own communities. And wont have to go through brand traditional brand channels now to I guess quote unquote collect the bag.
And that's something that I find particularly fascinating. Like I'm seeing every single day a desire on the part of young people to build their own and who I'm not. So for example, I mean, even on YouTube, if you're talking about, you know, even from a musical perspective, the amount of young people now who have.
Huge audiences, artists, and are independent and don't need a. AnR will don't need a record label to help distribute that music and don't need a GRM daily or link up TV to distribute their music on their platforms and are building their own platforms authentically. Staggering. And there's such an awareness and such a transparency around that on the part of.
Large swathes of generations Zed, I think it's really unsettling in the mainstream and, I think it's, is, I think it's a really positive thing. I think it's an exciting time. I think that the, coming together of community is, is becoming, is becoming increasingly important as the world is getting smaller.
There is now far more information about, historically marginalized communities, LGBT Q plus, you know, Afro Caribbean and, and Asian communities are now experiencing far more of an opportunity to, speak on their own platforms and utilize their own voices to the mainstream. And I think there's going to be a real shift in terms of identity politics now to, an age which, is far more accepting of those voices industrial scale.
I mean, to say that tolerance. will necessarily increase. Actually, I think with that, what we're seeing currently now is this teething problem by is also creating large division. Because you know, as there is now far more of a, a voice for marginalized voices, it's increasing almost the, the intolerance of people on the right to move to the far right, which is, I guess probably the reason why we've seen.
I guess the rise of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump
Vimla: [00:52:02] and Trump than I thought it would say, it took a lot longer for us to get
Hayel: [00:52:07] to Boris and Trump. It did. What it took was it took the, was the leveraging of marginalized voices. We are marginalized. And what that did is it pissed off a lot of people who were. historically privileged and didn't like being or feeling as they were being ousted from their position as the status quo and reaffirmed their position as, As the other, as being on the other side. But I think, I think these are teething. I think these are teething issues and because we are in the embryonic stages of seeing this shift happen, I think is over the next 10 to 20 years is the, I guess the, the rising of, these. Historically marginalized voices as voices.
The conversations that we're having now will seem not necessarily irrelevant in 20 years, but we'll see him quiet. Okay.
Vimla: [00:53:12] Yeah, I agree. And I think change is hard and it's never, never going to be easy and it's never going to get easier. But what we're really seeing now is the fragility of, of the, socioeconomic device that we've been taken for granted for such a long time.
And I think something that really, the way I describe it to my parents is, when they get upset that I'm speaking out or calling things out and they're worried that something bad's going to happen. I'm kind of like, but you know, as, as first generation immigrants, you've, you've had to be silent because you.
Bad things were happening.
Hayel: [00:53:47] You
Vimla: [00:53:48] could walk down the street and get attacked if you used your voice, but you've been through that. So I don't have to. So now I can, I am going to use my voice and I'm going to say this isn't good enough. And what I think has happened is, you know, for generations, the people in power, the, the people with the voice have been so used to the silence from marginalized groups that now that.
Our generation are using our voices as a shock and it's seen and see, and it's seen as whatever. And it's actually like, no, we were always pissed off. We can say anything back then
Hayel: [00:54:23] and we didn't have a platform. Yeah. And I think, what, what platforms do is two things is a, allows you to see. All of the other people on the platform who come from a similar experience.
And then it also, consolidates the idea of comradery because you all say, you know, you feel, you feel safe in a crowd when you feel that safety and community, everybody leverages their voices as one to to to shout about the things that they were historically pissed off about. But you know, before.
Where, whereas we might have felt these things, we may have felt them in isolation and in silence because we didn't feel that that was ever, ever a shared platform to express these feelings. and I think, yeah, as you said, is, is, is really upset in the mainstream. We, we, With what we do. We've got a, a social enterprise called the Curb collective where we, every year, so it's funded by the mayor's office.
and every year we take on 10 young people, from, I guess socioeconomic, socioeconomically challenged areas in London. so we actually looked at the indices for deprivation on, across, across the Capitol, and, and specifically picked young people from these areas, from these challenging areas to go on a, a nine month course with us, whereby they go from a rookie and video production to having as much knowledge as anybody going into an entry level job at ITV or BBC in production.
and. I remember we took some of our young people to, the BBC a couple of years ago, and, they, they, I thought that they would be starry-eyed and, in awe, and they just weren't they? And, I guess part of that were my own. Preconceptions and assumptions about the fact that the BBC is this historically, you know, really renowned and prestige producer.
And then everybody kind of sees it as, I guess the Magna car of the media wild in, in, in the UK, but, but the young, these young people just don't see it like that anymore. They don't, they don't necessarily aspire to work for. These corporations, they want to create their own BBCs. They want to create their own channel 4s and ITVs, and they want people to come on work with them to build.
and you know, that for me is the most exciting change that I think will happen in the next 20 years. I do expect a lot of these social media influencers to ultimately have those. Connotations, of social media influencer, redacted and become the, the new mainstream media of tomorrow. And yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's all stemming from this unwillingness to.
Be normal to be ordinary. and yeah, that particularly excites me is really cool
Vimla: [00:57:38] and that's massively inspiring. I think that's a perfect note to end on. So thank you so much for your time.
Hayel: [00:57:44] Oh, no, thank you. Thank you for having me. And, I hope that we can reconvene at some point. Maybe, maybe we should do this again, in 20 or 20 years time and see if any of the changes that we've predicted have actually come into action.
Vimla: [00:58:01] Yeah, I mean,
Hayel: [00:58:02] I'll hold you to that.