Advertising Week’s Brand Building With Will Smith


Building your brand is a difficult task for businesses and entrepreneurs in this digital age. There is an abundance of social media outreach to choose from, but in a world where there are so many choices for consumers, how can businesses attract the right attention? During New York Advertising Week’s 15th annual convention, there were a host of panels discussing this issue and many more regarding brand building. One method that was discussed was leveraging the popularity of an influencer or mainstream celebrity’s fan base to make meaningful connections with consumers.

Advertising Week’s panel, The Jump with Will Smith: One Iconic Storyteller’s Journey of Reinvention and Connection showcased the successful use of social media and YouTube to make an individual’s voice heard through the clutter of the digital age. Smith candidly spoke with Adam Stewart, a VP at Google, about his voyage of self-discovery with digital outreach to his fans, allowing for an authentic and fearless voice to be heard. The infamous actor acknowledged that there is a trap with social media that many fall prey to, and that is creating content for “likes” or “views” rather than developing genuine stories. He urged brand builders to get out of their comfort zone and to follow their intuition. “Nothing is more valuable than your gut,” he told Stewart.

Smith gushed that when he uncovered the freedom and global reach of YouTube, he was blown away. He advised content creators to not stick with the same old things that everyone else is doing. “Create anything that is great, anything you love or you think is amazing in your childhood, some-one once said it wouldn’t work …Fear is so constricting. It is even to your thinking. Confront fear to maintain creativity,” he said.
Another topic Smith discussed, which also garnered a lot of attention to his YouTube channel, was his heli-bungee jump (hence the panel title, The Jump). For Smith’s 50th birthday, which was on September 25th, he responded to a YouTube challenge by Yes Theory (an influential YouTube channel that defies the normal and spreads awareness to good causes) in which he was dared to bungee jump out of a helicopter. Smith had three conditions to the challenge: 1. The challenge was to be done for charity, 2. It has to be done after he fulfilled his contractual movie obligations, and 3. It has to be conducted over the Grand Canyon. After six months since the challenge was issued (coinciding with his birthday) Smith made the much anticipated leap. For the stunt, he purposely did not hold any test jumps so that he could create an authentic reaction for viewers. This video alone gained over 16 million views (and Smith currently has about 3.7 million subscribers on his channel).

Smith attests that this challenge was done for pure fun, like most digital content should be. He devel-oped the video for his fan base to see that life is so much more than a person’s fear. At the end of the dis-cussion, he touched on his up-coming films to be released next year, such as “Aladdin” (which he plays the Genie), and “Gemini Man” (in which he plays an assassin battling a 25-year-old clone of himself).
Photo by Dean Moses