Weber Shandwick Partners with Fast Company at First-Ever Innovation Festival 

Weber Shandwick is at the forefront of the changing digital and media landscape, guiding companies and brands to drive engagement in a new age of marketing. As part of our focus on innovation, we partnered with Fast Company for the first-ever Fast Company Innovation Festival, which took place November 9-13 in New York. The festival brought together thought leaders and top creative minds to showcase stories of innovation, creativity and leadership.

Weber Shandwick Partners with Fast Company at First-Ever Innovation Festival

Together with Fast Company, Weber Shandwick convened top marketing, content and creative leaders to answer a question at the top of marketers’ minds, “How Can Brands Survive the Era of Engagement?” Fast Company Senior Editor Chuck Salter moderated the panel and was joined by Weber Shandwick Chief Digital Officer Chris Perry, Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon and Giphy COO Adam Leibsohn, for a discussion around what it takes for brands to thrive in today’s constantly changing media landscape and what this new era means for marketers now and in the future


The panel kicked off with a discussion around what’s causing disruption in today’s media landscape, one answer being the explosion of new digital platforms. Perry stressed that even with the myriad of platforms available today, “It’s people first. We get enamored with technology and platforms… but there has to be a purpose behind it. Who are you trying to reach, why are you trying to reach them and why are these mediums a place where you can really engage people? And is the company culturally ready for what it takes to experiment in these environments?”

You need some conviction & confidence when analyzing data. Sometimes you need to take measured risk.

Adam Leibsohn

COO, Giphy

An important conversation also arose around how brands navigate and integrate new forms of communication – emojis, stickers and gifs included. On the idea of creating a branded language with gifs, Leibsohn noted, “Essentially [gifs are] a whole new method of communication. We’ve helped people redefine it. If people are talking in this content and using it to replace words, strategically that means you can create a branded language. And you can one way or another get billions of people to communicate with one another through your content. We’re serving in places that you can’t buy ads. This is uncharted territory.”

We’re dealing with a new language – gifs, cinemagraphs, emojis. Influence around visuals is huge.

Chris Perry

Chair, Weber Shandwick Futures

Another key theme was the notion of brands relinquishing control to consumers as user-generated content becomes more and more popular. As Reardon pointed out, “You can’t protect your brand the way that you do when you produce the content yourself. You know exactly what you’re putting out there. Now, you’re allowing somebody else to interpret your brand for you. It’s a piece of content that somebody else created or that we created and then it’s their version of it. The metric for me is, how widespread did that go?”

It really goes back to the customer for us. It’s deciding where the customer is most comfortable consuming content and hopefully being able to make that content come to life for them.

Martine Reardon

CMO, Macy’s

With today’s ever-changing media landscape as a backdrop, Weber Shandwick’s session at the Innovation Festival certainly addressed that it’s a challenging time for brands and marketers. But it’s also clear that bountiful opportunities exist for organizations that embrace innovation and stay focused on a people-first approach to engagement.