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The novel coronavirus pandemic has shuttered nearly all live events across the country, with concerts, premieres, conferences and most large gathering on hold. So naturally NowThis, the mobile news brand owned by Group Nine Media, has decided the time is right to launch an events franchise of its own.
The inaugural event, NowThis Next, is scheduled for October 18, and, for obvious reasons, it will stream live online, but the lineup the company has secured is sure to turn heads among media brands.
The event will be hosted by Late Night‘s Seth Meyers and Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John, with guests from the world of politics (Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams), entertainment (Charlize Theron, Elizabeth Banks, Tracee Ellis Ross Kate Bosworth) and business (designer Diane von Furstenberg, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley).
“The timing couldn’t have been in some ways stranger with COVID, but as you have seen things unraveling post-COVID with George Floyd and climate and the political overarching narrative going on, it is young people in the streets, it is young people making change, and it just felt like the timing actually, even though it is virtual, was more right than ever before,” says NowThis chief content officer Tina Exarhos. “[The guest lineup] I do think it is a testament to what we are trying to accomplish with the event, and the power of the platform,”
Group Nine is also partnering with the non-profit Vital Voices Global Partnership to highlight women making change in their communities during the program. The media company and Vital Voices secured Procter & Gamble as the presenting sponsor, with Bank of America, Dawn and Swiffer among the lead sponsors.
“That ability to tell stories, via social and video, is one of the biggest strengths that NowThis has, so it was an easy translation to be able to go to the marketplace and say, we are doing our first ever franchise,” says Geoff Schiller, Group Nine’s chief revenue officer. “It also allows for our brand partners to take advantage of our tremendous scale access social platforms, and the trust we have with young people.”
“From a partnership standpoint, it feels like a great jumping-off point for the NowThis brand into the events space,” Exarhos adds.
The format will include conversations between the participants, and interactive components. There will be a reading by a youth poet laureate, an artist painting a mural from Brazil, with a closing performance by Jojo.
Ultimately, Group Nine and NowThis fully expect to take the NowThis Next events brand into the real world… once it is safe to do so, of course. Climate change and social justice are already seen as potential topics for future iterations of the event.
“We feel like the tremendous talent, as well as our partnership with Vital Voices really kicked this off on the right note, and sets the stage for what will hopefully be an in-real-life franchise for many years to come,” Schiller says.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Donna Langley’s title.
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