So this is a new one – and definitely…unique: the Minnesota Vikings have hired a recent high school graduate who calls himself a “Gen Z guru” to consult with the team on how to attract and keep young fans.
Jonah Stillman is an 18-year-old who is a 2017 graduate of Minnetonka High School, which is only 10 miles from the Vikings’ current facility. According to a statement from the Vikings, Stillman’s job will include consulting with the team “on a variety of club business initiatives, including team marketing and fan activation efforts, Vikings Entertainment Network (VEN) and digital media content and strategy, U.S. Bank Stadium fan experience, STEM opportunities with the future Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center and workplace culture.”
The Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, or TCO Performance Center, will be the Vikings’ new headquarters, scheduled to open in six months.
But back to Stillman.
He and his father, David, have written a book, “Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace,” and they also run a company, Gen Z Guru, which has done three national studies and one global study on the workplace and marketplace attitudes of Gen Z’ers.
Gen Z is the generation after what we call millenials, individuals born between 1995-2012; in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Stillman calls it a “huge mistake” to lump Gen Z in with millenials.
“I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to help both the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings to reach a younger demographic of fans,” Stillman said. “Working with an organization as exciting as the NFL will be an exciting addition to the list of clients I have worked with. The NFL and Vikings have done an amazing job of exposing me to all facets on the game. This, combined with my ongoing research, will allow us to introduce new enhancements to both the in-game and every day football experience.”
He added that Minnesota deserves credit for trying to reach the younger generation.
“The Minnesota Vikings are a great example of an organization that is taking the time to get to know Generation Z,” Stillman said. “They have the unique position of both employing Gen Z’ers as well as trying to reach them as fans. With a mixture of having a great social media presence and authentic workplace communication, the Vikings are on the right track to engaging Gen Z.”
Stillman said he’s long been a fan of the Vikings, and his family is longtime season-ticket holders, and he’s “always been a fan of players who seem to have an innate ability to connect with kids authentically,” mentioning Stefon Diggs as one Minnesota player who fits that bill.
Kudos to the Vikings for trying something new, but the only foolproof method for gaining and keeping fans of any age is winning.