With a plethora of channel options for consumers today, it is imperative that brands continuously transform to meet their consumers where they are, when they want, and how they want. Successful brands are those that allow consumer insights to drive strategy. And any brand not showing up at the right time with the right engagement plan steeped in exciting experiences is being left behind.
Deirdre Findlay, Global CMO & Head of Consumer Revenue at Condé Nast, aims to transform a brand primarily known for printed media into a customer-centric, digitally versatile, community-oriented experience. Brian Irving, VP of Global Marketing at Meta Reality Labs, is building upon the edge of the next evolution of the internet. He is bringing to market unprecedented and immersive ways to connect through virtual experiences and is creating consumer connections through an augmented world.
Brian and Deirdre share an innate ability to engage their consumers from the water’s shallow end into deeper connections made possible through technology and novel strategies. Their efforts prove how impactful transformation can be and how much more there is to explore.
Here is what they had to say on Visionaries and how it could influence your team, talent, and future.
- Creating Interactive Experiences
- How to Expand Relationships with Stakeholders in Times of Transition
- Growing Teams to Meet Growing Demands
- Career Tips Towards a C-Suite Seat
Transforming the Future with Interactive Experiences
You both specialize in transformation; what transformative experiences are you leading at Condé Nast and Meta Reality Labs?
Deirdre Findlay: My focus is elevating the role of our brands in the hearts and minds of our consumers by keeping everything centered around what they want. Through our research, we’ve found that consumers want more than just content from us; they want community and commerce. We’ve explored what that could mean for our brands, like Vogue, GQ, Bon Appetit, The New Yorker, and others in our portfolio.
To create more opportunities for the Vogue community to connect, we launched an exciting membership proposition this year called Vogue Club. This offering unlocks access to the community within Vogue and the community of consumers who love Vogue and what it stands for. Members now spend five times as much as they did for the print publication to be part of something much bigger: true membership.
Brian Irving: At Meta Reality Labs, we are leading our consumers on a transformative journey to believe in something that didn’t exist. We are going from a world where VR and AR only existed in science fiction and our imagination. But now, we are introducing physical hardware and experiences that connect and transport people. Our job is to help them believe it is real and envision what’s possible today. In addition, we want to build enough curiosity about the Metaverse so that they want to explore, experience, and invest in it.
Engaging Connection in Times of Transition
As you think about your partners and who you’re building these experiences for, what is the driving goal? How are you working with your consumers and partners to get to the next level?
Deirdre Findlay: Leading our consumers through transformation starts with understanding what our brands mean to them. As we look at the research across our portfolio of brands, what stands out the most is trust and authority; having our consumer’s trust makes bringing them along in our journey a lot easier.
For example, Condé Nast recently launched Vogue World, which was an amazing experience where we took over an entire New York City block in the middle of New York Fashion Week. As we sold passes, we couldn’t tell people where it was or who would be there due to the permitting involved in doing something on an NYC street.
The fact that we sold out on an experience with limited details on what they might expect is phenomenal, and we exceeded our consumer’s expectations. We sold out the in-person experience, and the Vogue Club member-only watch party, and had over 75 million video views in one week. This is one example of how trust is not only helping us create experiences and drive interest, passion, and excitement with Vogue World, but it enhances our membership propositions, like Vogue Club.
Brian Irving: Creating accessible consumer experiences gets me the most excited about our work at Meta Reality Labs. We have been working with various partners, and people are finding enormous satisfaction and joy in what we can offer through VR and AR experiences. It is a way to remove limitations of distance, time, and financial means to have life-changing experiences.
For example, we’ve partnered with Disney and brought an in-depth experience of the Star Wars world to Disneyland and Disney World. Consumers can come in, put on a Quest Headset, and go deep into this immersive experience that takes Star Wars to a new level. Of course, there have been considerable increases in referral rates and purchase intent.
These experiences can be as joyous of an experience as a concert or transformative experiences that spark empathy. For instance, our “We Live Here” experience allows you to see up close what it’s like to live unhoused.
Growing Teams to Meet Growing Demands
How are you positioning your teams and building their marketing skills to navigate the future and push the boundaries forward?
Deirdre Findlay: The most important trait for any strong marketer or leader of consumer revenue is curiosity. The role has changed so much, and you need to be naturally curious and constantly hunting out the next new trend or consumer behavior to succeed, especially if you want to drive transformation. The second most important trait is leaning into “experimentation orientation,” which means trying new things and failing fast. When driving transformation, fear can get in the way, but when you celebrate experimentation and even the things that don’t go as planned, it fosters an environment where people are willing to take risks.
Brian Irving: Since I started at Meta, we’ve expanded to meet the needs of the business. We’ve launched Quest 2 (VR headset), a new line of Portal devices, Horizon Worlds (a VR social universe), Workrooms (VR meeting spaces), Ray-Ban Stories (smart glasses), and more. One of the biggest skill sets that I am trying to instill in my marketing team is to be open to change and endure it. Perseverance through change, but also the ability to drive change, will be the sign of success.
Career Tips Towards a C-Suite Seat
When you think about your career and some of the moves you made and things you learned along the way, what advice would you give to someone?
Brian Irving: The best advice I was given along the way was from my mentor, Rebecca van Dyck. She encouraged me to collect experiences that help me become the person I want to be—opposed to a calculated path to success. Take the next big experience if it’s the one that you want to collect. Successful careers don’t happen to people; you must manage them and be proactive.
Deirdre Findlay: Take the stretch opportunities, and, more importantly, seek them out. Don’t talk yourself out of the next opportunity. If it’s being presented to you, it’s because someone believes you can do it. What do you have to lose? Some of the best successes in my career have come from taking opportunities that have made me nervous. But that’s when I learned the most and was able to accomplish the most.
Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every Tuesday at 9 AM PT and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.
Brian Irving, VP of Global Marketing at Meta Reality Labs: Brian Irving leads the Meta Reality Labs Marketing Communications team. He is responsible for marketing the company’s AR/VR hardware and software products including Meta Quest, Meta Portal, Ray-Ban Stories, and Meta Horizon. Prior to joining Meta in 2020, Brian was the CMO at Eventbrite where he led a global team charged with the guardianship of the Eventbrite brand, attracting more creators to the platform, taking the company’s products to market, and building advocacy and community. Over the past two decades he has led iPhone and iPod Marketing Communications at Apple, Global Marketing for the Google Play brand, and the launch of Airbnb’s repositioning from homes to trips as Global Marketing Director. Brian is no stranger to shepherding iconic brands, having spent the early part of his career at Levi Strauss & Co, GE and General Motors.
Deirdre Findlay, Global CMO and Head of Consumer Revenue, Condé Nast: Deirdre Findlay oversees Condé Nast’s global consumer marketing strategy and heads the company’s direct-to-consumer revenue streams worldwide. She leads Condé Nast’s subscription and membership program revenue, commerce revenue, all brand licensing efforts (media, content, and product), and CRM and identifies new consumer revenue opportunities across the company. Findlay also manages marketing and brand development for global brands, overseeing the company’s consumer research, audience development, and data-driven analytics to leverage Condé Nast’s global audience development and reach. Findlay joined Condé Nast from Stitch Fix, where she served as CMO. Prior to Stitch Fix, Findlay held numerous leadership roles at Google, including Senior Director of Global Hardware Marketing for Google Home, Chromecast, and Wifi. Findlay has received several professional honors, including Adweek’s Brand Genius Award and was also named one of Advertising Age’s Women to Watch in 2019 and Forbes Magazine’s 50 Game-Changing Marketing Leaders.
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