Last July, at Condé Nast’s first (and hopefully second-to-last) virtual Health NewFront event, the venerable publisher rolled out ambitious plans for video content. In so doing, the featured speakers barely acknowledged that media exists outside the digital world, which said everything one needed to know about the company’s priorities moving forward.
Some 11 months later, Condé Nast reassembled its health and wellness A-listers for the 2021 version of its annual klatch. Here are five takeaways from Thursday afternoon’s Health NewFront.
1. The words “print” and “magazine” were not mentioned. Unless I missed them, which is entirely possible given the breakneck pace of the 34-minute presentation. No, a NewFront event isn’t the time or place for enumerating print’s charms. But if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Self, Vogue, Wired and the rest were digital natives. Positioning them that way feels like a deliberate – and smart – choice.
2. Self has established itself as a true star in the Condé Nast stable. Clearly it makes sense for the company’s preeminent wellness brand to receive the most facetime at an event with “Health” in its title. At the same time, newly anointed editor-in-chief Leta Shy was one of only two editorial leaders who participated. And of the newly introduced properties, Self Conditionally was rolled out with the most fanfare.
A health-only platform featuring condition-specific content from the Mayo Clinic and others, Self Conditionally will live in the digital, audio and video realms. Paired with content like “My Way to Well,” unveiled at last year’s NewFront, Self Conditionally affirms Condé Nast’s commitment to offering any number of progressive, brand-simpatico vehicles to health and wellness marketers.
3. Get ready to see more Condé Nast video on Twitter. The companies announced a partnership to create six series specifically designed for Twitter consumption: Self’s “Why Me,” Allure’s “Derm Consult,” Glamour’s “In 60 Seconds” and “Women Explain,” Epicurious’ “Recipe Rehaul” and Wired’s “Health Support.” All content will be informed by Twitter trend insights; the videos will debut on Twitter and will be optimized for the platform (read: they’ll be short). Director, Twitter client solutions, health Lisa Bookwalter touted the authenticity of health-related engagements on the platform, while Twitter head of lifestyle content partnerships Janice Morris said the series would “extend the influence of the cultural forces Condé Nast creates.”
Whether or not head of sales for Condé Nast Health Carrie Moore is right about Twitter being the showcase platform for “real-time sentiments and emotions” around health – Instagram would seem to have equal appeal, if not more – the partnership will place health- and wellness-related content in a place where more patients can engage with it. It’s hard to see how that isn’t a big win for everyone involved.
4. Condé Nast [hearts] pharma. Most media brands looking to survive deep into this decade are equally enamored, obviously. Condé Nast execs nonetheless stressed their enthusiasm to partner and the volume of opportunities for brands to do so. Beside everything already mentioned, there are podcasts, three new video mini-series… it’s dizzying, frankly.
Media folk often discuss custom content in hushed tones, as if it’s beneath them. Moore, on the other hand, proudly touted Condé Nast’s ability to create compelling materials that don’t generate additional approval issues, not to mention the health-only production team ready to make them happen. A recent program around Biogen’s MS franchise likely captured the imagination of many NewFront attendees.
5. Anna Wintour showed up. Resplendent in baggy sweatpants and a backwards vintage baseball cap, the longtime Vogue editor and CN chief content officer rapped her remarks over beats laid down by Don Diablo… Okay, not really. Dressed and sunglass’d as always, she shared a few quick thoughts (“our health has now become THE cultural conversation”) before introducing Shy.
But Wintour’s presence at a health-specific event, whether in person or beamed in from afar, was notable in itself. She didn’t appear at the 2020 Health NewFront and has rarely – at least in public – weighed in on the surging importance of health content to Condé Nast’s fortunes going forward. For anyone who might have doubted Condé Nast’s commitment to the category and the marketers perpetually seeking to ally their brands with high-grade content, this was quite the statement.