“This isn’t a niche culture. It is the culture. This isn’t a market. It’s a movement. This isn’t just about them. It’s about all of us.” This is how the introductory video of Condé Nast’s new platform, “Them.” describes itself.
Spearheaded by Phillip Picardi - the digital director who has overseen the overarching revamp of Teen Vogue, as well as Allure (and he will continue to occupy those roles) - Them. is a new “digital community” that will cover “news and politics with an activist stance, advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community and shining a light on cultural figures who are not typically recognized,” per BoF.
Anna Wintour, to whom Picardi, 26, first mentioned the idea early this summer, told BoF in an email: “Over the past year, we’ve been reimagining what a title looks like to better reflect today’s culture and how audiences are interacting with content."
Fitting neatly within that focus of content that is inherently current? Them. Consider these figures: As of last year, 4.1 percent (about 10 million) American adults identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, up 1.75 million from just four years prior. Moreover, 52 percent of Generation Z - those born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s - does not identify as heterosexual. “This generation will represent 44 percent of US consumers by 2020 and 60 percent of them support brands that take a stand on issues they believe in,” per BoF.
Despite these huge numbers, the LGBTQ community is largely not given a platform that is both celebrated and mainstream. It is still, in many cases, viewed as a "niche" collective. Hence, the line from the publication's video, “This isn’t a niche culture. It is the culture." Them. is here to put such notions to the forefront ... finally.
What exactly will Them. look like when it debuts at the end of October? Well, it will not be a content machine, that is for sure. Instead of “chasing news or publishing content 40 to 60 times a day,” Them. will be “more selective,” says Picardi. “We're not expecting hundreds of millions of impressions to deliver on a campaign. But what we are hoping for is a uniquely engaged and extremely impactful storytelling experience.”
In terms of advertisers, the new platform is also focusing on quality over quantity. One of the first to partner? Burberry. “I am delighted that we are partnering with Them for the launch of an important new digital publication that will champion authenticity, intellect, style and culture for those who are shaping the future of our world,” chief creative officer Christopher Bailey told BoF in an e-mail.
And with this impending endeavor, Condé Nast has arguably just cemented itself once again as a modern media giant during a time of frequent reshuffling of roles and widespread struggle in the traditional media sphere, and a relevant force in the marketplace in 2017. As for Mr. Picardi, he is a visionary to keep a very close eye on.