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Looking to Reach Gen Z? You Need the Help of Spongebob



Born Licensing’s Director of Business Development Stephanie Candiloro explains why brands want to capture this demographic and the role cartoon and animation characters play in this dynamic

Looking to Reach Gen Z? You Need the Help of Spongebob

Agencies can’t get enough of Generation Z - and at Born Licensing we’re seeing that in terms of the scripts and briefs we’ve been receiving from agencies across the globe. 

Occasionally, advertising agencies will approach us with an open script or brief, meaning that we get the opportunity to work with the agency to offer up a character licensing solution that not only works in with the script, but also appeals to the client’s target audience. 

Peppa Pig, Shrek, and Despicable Me are just a few examples of characters and TV shows we never imagined presenting to agencies as inspiration for their banking, insurance and property clients’ products. Realising the pre-schoolers that were watching Peppa Pig 15 years ago are now independent consumers, we started to understand some of the reasons leading to advertisers shifting focus over to Gen Z.

The above frame sums up perfectly how we felt knowing Spongebob fans are now paying utility bills.

Here are a few things you need to understand if you’re looking to appeal to Gen Z with the quirky characters of their youth: 

    1) The adults that grew up with Minions are brand loyal because they prefer quality  

Gen Z are digital global citizens and so there exists the misconception that they are not brand-loyal consumer. On the contrary, a recent report by IBM demonstrates the following ways in which Gen Z is a brand-loyal demographic. 

  • 59% would trust a brand they have grown up with
  • 66% prefer buying from their favorite brand for a long time
  • 46% stay loyal to a brand that offers quality 

It shows they can stay connected with a brand if they want to.

    2) Gen Z can ignore price if the company or product meets their values 

These older Wild Thornberry fans are making conscious purchases and decisions. 

Forbes' 2019 report The State of Consumer Spending: Gen Z Shoppers Demand Sustainable Retail revealed that 54% of Gen Z are willing to spend up to 10% more for sustainable products, versus 23% of Baby Boomers who said the same. It also shared that 62% of Gen Z prefer to buy from sustainable brands. Tags like eco-friendly, sustainable and no toxins or carcinogens are becoming increasingly appealing to all, but seem to be at the forefront of purchasing for Gen Z.

    3) Gen Z have disposable income, youth on their side and some basic Spanish from watching Dora the Explorer

Bloomberg shared reports in 2021 that revealed Gen Z had $360 billion in disposable income and that figure can be expected to have grown over the last two years; the trick is getting them to spend it.

Even though it feels like just yesterday that Shrek premiered on the big screen, it was a full two decades ago. And those school-age kids that ran out of the cinema squealing “Muffin Man!” are your new target market. 

We’ve given you three reasons why Gen Z shouldn’t be overlooked, and we thought it would be great to finish with three campaigns that we were involved in, that we feel did a great job capturing a younger audience. 

Here are a few using characters, films and TV shows that Gen Z grew up with and love:


We couldn’t mention Spongebob in the headline and then not share a campaign that featured him. Well, we could have, but that would be less fun.

This multi-channel integrated ‘Stories Are Everywhere’ campaign launched for Instagram globally. It was so successful that Adweek named it as number 3 in the Top 10 Ads of 2017, and it also won Gold at the 2017 Eurobest awards in the Film category. The campaign was a core contributing factor in the launch and ongoing success of Instagram’s Stories feature.

Wieden + Kennedy had the right idea using these characters to appeal to a younger audience.

The campaign also included Sonic the Hedgehog and Whiplash, which we also managed the license for.  

Instagram 'Stories are Everywhere' - SpongeBob from Born Licensing on Vimeo.


Uber riders in Miami had the chance to take a spin in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Party Wagon, riders in Los Angeles had the chance to ride in SpongeBob SquarePants’ Patty Wagon, and riders in Atlanta had the chance to motor around in Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine! To add to the appeal for millennials and gen z riders, the launch was supported with a social film plus specially made content from influencers Will Wahony and Nina Drama.

Uber 'Famous Rides'- TMNT, SpongeBob SquarePants, Scooby-Doo from Born Licensing on Vimeo.


Spongebob fans aren’t just paying utility bills, they’re also managing their finances and beginning careers in financial advisory. 

The campaign consists of a hero longform film, 3 x 30’s spots, plus various cutdowns and digital assets. Within the films we see money-obsessed Mr. Krabs on a video call with a bemused financial advisor trying to make sense of Mr. Krabs’ finances. The films combine live action with custom animation that was made specially and exclusively for this campaign. 

Born Licensing worked with Paramount and Hey Let’s Go to get the necessary assets released to develop the bespoke animation.

Envestnet's 'Intelligent Financial Life' with Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants from Born Licensing on Vimeo.

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Born Licensing, Wed, 08 Feb 2023 02:38:23 GMT