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Why Gen Y buys into HP's 'Declare Yourself'

The back-to-school campaign, which boosts egos but not necessarily laptops, lets users declare their goals to the world and show support for others' goals.

Hewlett-Packard's new back-to-school campaign, dubbed Declare Yourself with HP, isn't your typical laptop sales promotion. It probably could be used instead as a case study of how members of Generation Y tend to gravitate toward products that inflate their egos.

The online campaign, which rolled out this week in partnership with Viacom's MTV Networks, enables users to "declare" their goals with one-line summaries. HP is "hoping that this promotion will help (students) set obtainable goals that will help further personal growth."

Obtainable goals, eh? Let's check out some of the goals my generation has declared: "I will meet the Jonas Brothers," "I will eat more cheese," and "I will be on the red carpet."

Uh-huh. Keep telling yourself that. Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET

With its large presence on the Internet, Generation Y has changed the way consumer companies like HP market their products. Even domain names have seen a change: YouTube, MySpace. Apple, too, has caught on to Gen Y's "me, me, me" trait, naming its digital-music player the iPod and rebranding its .Mac service MobileMe.

But back to the HP campaign. After users publish their goal, they can browse through the declarations of others and give them a thumbs-up approval rating.

Sound familiar? The concept of posting one's thoughts and receiving positive feedback isn't anything new. The Facebook feed works in a very similar way, giving users the option to show that they "like" their friends' status updates.

To be fair, let's cut the Gen Ys some slack--there are many declarations on the HP site that relate to volunteering, caring for others, and being a better person. However, it's the declarations like "I will destroy the competition" and "I will become famous before 2012" that leave me feeling pessimistic about the millennials' future.