People As Brands As Publishers


The title of this blog post is also the name of a fascinating and fun panel my partner Jason Stein moderated recently at Advertising Week. Aside from the personalities of the panelists (and there were some BIG ones) what made it special for me was the realization of how profoundly our marketing and communications world is changing.

Five years ago, advertisers were the unchallenged rulers of the marketing industry. They communicated to consumers how and when they deemed appropriate—primarily through advertising. They also paid a hefty price for that privilege.

Consumers mattered very little during this time. Their thoughts, desires, and wishes were barely tolerated. Listening to consumers was a nuisance and there was an order to everything. This process was nice, tidy and highly controlled.  Then, social media came along and changed the rules forever (and for the better)!

Today, we are beginning to see people emerge as brands with enormous influence. We’re not talking about football players, actors or singers promoting a product for a fee. These are young, energetic and engaging people who have burst onto the scene for a reason. They understand what social media is about—being authentic, fun, caring and innovative! This is the formula that works, and those who understand are beginning to reap the rewards.

I wanted to highlight three of the panelists and some of their achievements in the early stages of this new world order:

  1. Liz Eswein (@newyorkcity) is followed by over 1 million people on Instagram. This number is incredible.
  2. Erica Domesek (@psimadethis) is the founder of P.S. I Made This and has been dubbed the “Fashion Queen of DIY” byElle magazine.
  3. Fat Jew (@FATJEW) is an outrageously funny comedian, actor, writer and content creator at Thrillist. His crazy antics got him kicked off of Instagram.

These panelists have built real brand personalities that resonate with a massive number of followers. What they say matters because it’s fresh, honest and said with integrity. In my opinion, their personal brands will transcend product brands. They will be the people the next generation of educators, politicians, business leaders, and consumers across the economic spectrum turn to for authentic information and opinions. As a result, they will be in demand by advertisers who will come to understand that their brands will capture a cachet tough to reach through standard advertising.

At the end of the day, people will listen to and follow their peers. And these conversations will happen in the spaces where emerging influencers can organically capture the hearts and imaginations of their audiences.