How diversity sparked a commercial and creative rebirth at Vogue

Vanessa Kingori, publishing director at Vogue, has revealed the brand has seen a 25% increase in digital engagement and a 1000% increase in revenues from experiential event, following the appointment of Edward Enninful as editor-in-chief.

Kingori: Vogue's first first female publisher in the brand’s 100-year history (Picture: Bronac McNeill)
Kingori: Vogue's first first female publisher in the brand’s 100-year history (Picture: Bronac McNeill)

Speaking at the Creative Equals Future Leaders conference in London today Kingori revealed that the new Vogue, which has had diversity at its core, has attracted more advertisers and readers to the iconic fashion publication.

In conversation with Ali Hanan, the founder and chief executive of Creative Equals, she said: "What is really interesting is what diversity means and what it really is. Diversity is not nice to do and almost philanthropic. My role is to show that it is actually good for business. For us it is about changing our teams slowly and properly and changing our content inside outside, not just ticking boxes."

The appointment of Edward Enninful as editor-in-chief has not just ushered in a new era at Vogue but has made ripples across the publishing industry. 

Kingori said: "In the media especially in the mainstream media we have a responsibility to reflect our societies. For me it felt like everyone had talked about diversity but Edward had made a career of it before people were talking about it."

#NewVogue as a starting point for change

Pointing to the greater representation of BAME individuals on magazine covers, Kingori said the change is "a great starting point".

She explained: "I call it the 'Edward effect' when I go to newsstands and see covers of brown girls. But what about the harder conversations, what are the things we don’t know we want to see? I am a huge advocate of true inclusion and I recognise how much work we still have to do."

Earlier this year, Vogue was criticised for its cover showing Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie on its cover. However Kingori said that one of the pillars of diversity Enninful takes very seriously is age. "There is a challenge around aging in Hollywood and around women aging generally," she said. 

Changing the guard

Kingori, who is the first female publisher in the brand’s 100-year history, shared that the transformation at Vogue also involved hiring new talent which is "crucial" to ensuring the brand’s success.

This initiative has included doubling their digital project management team, hiring a new digital editor and having an in-house digital engagement manager who is rooted in data and insight providing real-time trends and data to the team. "We are in the process of hiring people to ensure the other pillars of the brand reflect what is going on in the magazine," she said.

Kingori added that Instagram is a huge growth area and the brand launched on Snap on Enninful’s first day. "I am trying to ensure that the message is different but all part of the same narrative across platforms," explained Kingori. She believes the brands success is the fact that it is a brand and "not just a magazine". 

Brands changing the narrative

Sharing the response to the relaunch from brands, Priya Matadeen, director of strategy and partnerships at Vogue, said the magazine is working with a whole plethora of new brands which are interested with our new take on the world.

"With Nike we aren’t just doing the fashion story; we are talking about wellness. We feel that brands are really coming with us on the journey," she said.

Another brand which had never advertised with the magazine before was Christian Louboutin. Kingori explained: "Branded content is one of the most important part of our offering but what is really interesting is people want to attach to our narrative. When we talk about the challenges women face, things like late miscarriage which we would never have previously explored."

Louboutin subsequently worked with Vogue’s branded content team because, as he told Kingori and Enninful: "You are the only brand speaking in a language which I think reflects mine."

Kingori said: "This celebration of diversity and the assertion that different is beautiful is a narrative advertisers want to be involved in."

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