Video Essentials

Phillip Picardi and Teen Vogue Lead the Way on Brand Fearlessness

“You shouldn’t be afraid of risk. If you have the privilege to sit in this room, to go to newfronts, to talk to all these high-powered individuals who are next to you, you really shouldn’t be afraid of risk,” said Phillip Picardi. “It should all be about being a leader, and being a leader means that your feet are often held to the fire.”

This year’s NewFront Week in New York City was packed with memorable moments—Jamie Foxx and friends signing “Uptown Girl” at Oath; celebrity appearances by Mickey Mouse (Disney), Gus Kenworthy (ESPN), and Mindy Kalin (Hulu); no one being drunk and/or passed out at Vice—but no doubt the speech of the week was delivered by Phillip Picardi at the Digitas NewFront.

Phillip PicardiPicardi is the chief content officer for Teen Vogue, and has been behind the publication’s turn to serious, opinionated journalism. As many discovered during the last presidential election, Teen Vogue has a point of view and isn’t afraid to show it. With many YouTubers now supplying fashion and makeup advice, the magazine needed a new avenue. Taking on controversial social and political issues proved a smart decision.

This year’s Digitas NewFront was all about encouraging brands to show their values and not play it safe. That’s increasingly difficult in a time of social media mass protests and extreme sensitivity, but it’s also increasingly necessary. Picardi’s talk was both personal and political, and encouraged marketers to make their values know.

“You have to take a stand on the things that feel authentic,” he said. “You don’t need to enter every single conversation, and you don’t need to take a massive political stance.”

Brands that follow his advice will certainly get pushback, but Picardi advised them not to pay attention to the haters: “Commenters on social media are not necessarily your customers, okay?…My audience numbers were never higher than when some lunatic started a bonfire in her backyard with my magazines.”

Scroll down to watch Phillip Picardi explain how to fearlessly assert brand values.


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