From I To Us: Connecting With 30 Under 30 Winner Shaun McFarlane

From I To Us: Connecting With 30 Under 30 Winner Shaun McFarlane

Millennials and Gen Zs today feel a personal responsibility to make the world a better place, and are putting their values into action.

In our Connect With the Snapchat Generation series, we’re looking into how these values play out within society to evolve many aspects of how we live. 

And because we’re no strangers to bright young people who are leading the charge, we’ve enlisted a few of our 2022 B&T 30 Under 30 winners to help us break down Snapchat’s latest report.

Today we’re with Shaun McFarlane, one of our creative category conquerors.

McFarlane first dipped his toes into adland as a marketing coordinator then later a short stint as an account executive at KWP! “which helped me realise I’m not Account Executive material”. It was after completing an AWARD School Course, when McFarlane hopped into a creative seat (and over the border) for Noisy Beast in Melbourne that he really found his flair. 

Today he’s making waves at leading independent creative company Special Group Australia with whom he achieved one of the highlights of his career: working on the 2022 UberEats Super Bowl campaign.

And in his downtime? He casually kickstarted a petition mandating the New Zealand government improve its press and publication standards, demanding transparency for retouched images. You know, the usual. And when he’s not helping to reform beauty standards, he’s busy raising the next generation of ad people as a member of the Youngbloods Australia committee; a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting the up-and-comers because, in their words, “we give a shit”.

The mantra actually captures Snapchat’s findings rather well: that Gen Zs and Millennials in Australia and around the globe are switching the focus from “I” to “us” and searching for meaningful connections.

Why? How?

Let’s find out…

B&T: When we first spoke you mentioned you spent your free-time during the pandemic “re-evaluating what I wanted or what I thought was important and came out post-pandemic with a better sense of self than how I went in.”

What values do you now consider most important to you?

SM: Purpose. I’m trying my best to avoid sounding too much like a motivational speaker here but from my professional to personal life finding purpose in what you do, the connections you make, and the impact you leave has always seemed to lead me along the right path.

B&T: Does purposeful connection mean something different to you now?

It’s kind of weird. I learnt how to exist almost entirely from my bedroom, both working and socialising without leaving home.

So when the time came to see each other again I did! I was itching to go out, meet new people and see old friends. But at the same time there is this happy hangover of things that can now be solved with a video call… like 9am meetings.

I think the pandemic revealed how much we value in-person human interaction, while also teaching us the utility of a video call. 

B&T: In the latest edition of our Connect With the Snapchat Generation series you also said the pandemic “forced us to look out for one another and form a tighter sense of community” after we all “scrapped it out over toilet paper” which has to be one of my favourite observations!

Can you elaborate?

It felt like we were all in this ‘thing’ together, and if someone needed my help and I could afford to give it, I would. Aussies are pretty good at this on the whole; floods, droughts, and fires have taught us to be that way I think. So a global pandemic while new for most of us felt familiar in some respect.

B&T: And we learned from Snapchat that this sense of connection, creating this ‘thing’ of togetherness, is something young people in Australia and around the world are now looking for from the brands they choose to engage with.

I think good brands do this well. They create a tribe of people who all feel connected to them and what they stand for, or they form part of the aspiration of who we want to become.

B&T: How do you show loyalty to the brands you like?

Through repeat purchase, and now that I think of it, through following them on social media. Nowadays I think it’s harder to establish blind brand loyalty. I constantly evaluate my choice of brands, and re-evaluate again for good measure. 

B&T: You’re not alone! What do you think brought about this shift for Millennials and Gen Zs in particular? 

Searching for alternatives is now so easy there are entire websites built for this purpose. Older generations didn’t have this, so it makes sense that they might have stronger ties to their favourite brands. 

It might only be my experience but a perfect example of this is my Dad. He loves anything and everything his favourite motorbike brand makes. In fact, he even loves anything in the same colour as his favourite motorbike brand, which unfortunately for everyone around him is bright orange.

That’s brand loyalty.

You can hear more from McFarlane and the other 30 Under 30s in our Connect With The Snapchat Generation Series

Be sure to keep an eye on it over the coming weeks as we continue to uncover the trends that Gen Zs and Millennial are leading, and the powerful impact they’re having on the way we live.




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