Hero Collective Partners with Former Victoria’s Secret Supermodel, Selita Ebanks to Build Wellness Platform of the Future

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Health

Hero Collective Partners with Former Victoria’s Secret Supermodel, Selita Ebanks to Build Wellness Platform of the Future

Hero Collective has partnered with former Victoria’s Secret supermodel, Selita Ebanks to create a new wellness focused social media platform committed to empowering all women to be their best selves. The platform will serve as both a media platform and marketplace, leveraging Hero’s proprietary publishing software that supports both user-generated and curated content to engage its users. “I’m excited to create a community that is true reflection and serves the needs of all women. Having been part of an industry that was built on perpetuating unattainable beauty standards, I am now looking forward to working with my partners at Hero Collective to build a home where all women are welcome,” says Selita.

Despite the beauty and wellness industry being a combined 4.2 Trillion dollars a year, both Selita and Hero Collective have seen a lack of platforms committed to building communities that are truly inclusive. Additionally, there are very few platforms dedicated to promoting a clean beauty standard that’s safe for its users and the environment. The team is also banking that wellness and self-care will continue to be emphasized by women coming out of Covid-19. “We see a huge opportunity coming out of Covid19 to create a digital safe space whose purpose is to welcome all women seeking a more customized wellness solution,” says Joe  Anthony, CEO of Hero Collective.

The team at Hero Collective and Selita have been working collaboratively over the past year on the features that will make the platform unique to the industry. “We are not interested in just building another media site, we are building a platform and user experience that doesn’t exist in the marketplace,” says Len Burnett, Head of Urban Media Innovation at Hero Collective.  Scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2021, Hero Collective has already had conversations with brand partners, celebrities, influencers and strategic partners looking to be part of a new inclusive wellness community. The platform intends to offer a variety of branded content and unique native advertising solutions that will more authentically bring brands into the wellness conversation.

About Hero Collective:

Hero Collective is a full service creative and digital innovation studio, leveraging culture to help grow and build purpose driven brands committed to creating social impact. Hero Collective works with brand partners offering a wide range of marketing solutions as well as creates new media platforms that are focused on empower creators and innovators who want to change the world.


Hero Talk Episode 18: Culture is King with HP's Daryl Butler

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Hero Talk

Hero Talk Episode 18: Culture is King with HP's Daryl Butler


Hero Talk Episode 17: The Future of Media with Jason Wagenheim

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Hero Talk

Hero Talk Episode 17: The Future of Media with Jason Wagenheim

On this episode of Hero Talk, we talk to Bustle Digital Group, President and CRO, Jason Wagenheim on the Future of Media. We discuss what the media industry will look like post Covid19, including new consumer expectations, technological innovations, and the rising demands from advertisers to see more ROI from premium publishers.


Demanding a Black New Deal from Corporate America

Culture Hack

Culture Hack

DEMANDING A BLACK NEW DEAL FROM CORPORATE AMERICA

By Joe Anthony

The senseless death of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery urgently brought to the forefront what most of us already knew – that the socioeconomic system that was built on the backs of free labor, pain, and blood provided by African Americans is morally corrupt and broken. This is a system that we allowed over the course of generations, silently benefitting from it and fearing that an admission of humanity, equality, and privilege to Black Americans would somehow mean less for us.  Blacks did their part, resilient yet patient and hopeful that America would change and keep its share of the promise. We were wrong and will no longer tolerate a status quo that denies our equal existence.

Blacks continue to be denied an integral role in American culture, absent from the societal power structures after the passing of hard-fought-for civil rights legislations. This disparity was most urgently felt during the Covid-19 pandemic, when Blacks, forced to work and abandon shelter-in-place, were more susceptible to contagion and death. The death of George Floyd showed us America’s other pandemic, an uncured, untreated form of systematic racism and violence that should have no place in modern human society. And just as Covid-19 has forced us all to reimagine a new normal, our urgent racial conversation requires a bigger reset, a new contract between America and our Black community. Anything less than this will give America a free pass to go back to its comfort-seeking ways, a luxury no one can afford.

Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted, “The New Deal,” in the early 30’s, in an attempt to usher in sweeping reforms to re-invigorate the economy after the first great recession.  Well, it’s time for another New Deal, one focused on empowering Black professionals and entrepreneurs.  However, this deal/contract needs to be agreement between Corporate and Black America.  This new contract between America and our Black community must be one of equals, one that is open and appreciates the full perspective of Black culture, and that is focused on real action and not just lip-service. In this new contract the lives of Black Americans will be valued, their rights protected at all levels, their voices represented in the highest levels of power, both corporate and political. In this new contract with Black America, Black culture will be fully compensated with contracts, opportunities, and related leadership roles connected to the powerful creative and commercial movements it generates. This is the part of the contract that impacts brands, corporations, and investment institutions, one of the worst perpetrators of Black silencing.

Brands, especially consumer brands, have benefited the most from Black culture while paying out tokenism to the Black community. Black culture is one of the most powerful economic machines that exists on Planet Earth. Yet, to this day, Black people have little to no equity in their creations. Industries that have produced $100’s of billions of dollars, which if appropriated fairly, could have had transformative effects in Black communities. Let’s take the music industry for example. Blacks invented Rock and Roll, Hip Hop, Blues, and Jazz. The fashion industry is another notorious thief of Black culture.  Streetwear, for instance, is a global behemoth that began in Black communities, and now spans across continents, with kids from all socio-economic backgrounds self-proclaiming their love for the streets by wearing clothing inspired by Black culture. Let’s not even get into the global impact that Blacks have had on sports and entertainment. Behind these creative and commercial movements lie a systematic machine of brands, media, and corporations that ignore Black power and stereotype them as a community, with pernicious and long-lasting repercussions on how America and the world sees Blacks. Yet these brands pose as our allies and supporters when it financially benefits their needs.

We know better and in much of this posturing, we see condescension and opportunism. This past week there have been hundreds of brands who have seemingly jumped on the bandwagon of justice. Brands now suddenly unafraid to the utter the words, “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” make contributions to the NAACP, or are quick to share a Black square on their social feeds representing their support for #blackouttuesday. Amidst the emotive brand posts, the question from the Black community has been, where is the substance, where have you been all along when we were telling you there was a problem? We accept your empathy but are more interested in learning about your plans to empower us. Please show us your corporate boards, your support for Black workers, executives, suppliers, and telling our stories in a way that creates equity for us. Tell us about your political contributions, your hiring practices, your plans to create jobs in communities where our people are in desperate need. Black America now demands a contract. We are asking the Nikes of the world for our fair share of the deal in which Black America has already delivered so much.

The new contracts between Black America and brands should include:

  1. Blacks should be represented at all key executive levels within a corporate structure, including the C-suite, board of directors, and other executive decision-making positions.  These need to extend beyond the traditional Multicultural and Diversity roles, that are necessary but often created to limit our potential to contribute on a macro level.
  2. Corporations and brands must over-index in the engagement of Black and minority suppliers throughout their entire supplier eco-system. This should include the highest level of their agency partners, consultants, and other suppliers that are critical to their success and operation.
  3. The ad agency world itself needs to finally embrace Black talent, shedding its echo-chamber of like-minded professionals. This begins at the entry-level by paying young talent fairly so disenfranchised groups can actually make a living from this industry. The perspective of young Blacks is critical to the ad industry’s survival, so the systemic exclusion of this group does no one a favor.
  4. Blacks should be able to own their narrative. Corporate America and brands must increase their investments in Black stories, creators, media, agencies, and talent.
  5. Venture capitalists, institutional financial services companies, brands, and private equity firms must make proportionate investments in Black startups and businesses, to ensure we are the owners of the intellectual property that we create.
  6. Brands must re-invest in Black communities in an effort to create jobs that ensure Blacks are not being displaced via gentrification and forced to leave neighborhoods they lived in all their lives.

As a founder of a Black-owned ad agency, we have benefited greatly from the unique power and vibrancy of our Black culture. From it, we draw our unique sense of introspection, self-expression, humor, and boldness. We thrive with Black creatives that are more resourceful and ingenious as a means of survival, having to outsmart what is still a white club between clients and agency leads.

And despite great successes, working with world-class brands, we have seen the very low ceiling given to agencies and companies like ours. We see contracts that we’re more capable of handling given to agencies more politically entrenched with clients; told that we can handle the multicultural piece of business; or that the client is opting for a total market approach, which has become code for the safeguarding of the white-entrenched ad establishment.

As we advocate for this new contract with Black America, we must remind all parties that this new approach is the right thing to do as humans but it’s also the right thing to do for business. By respecting, safeguarding, and promoting all aspects of Black culture and enterprise, you are tapping into formidable consumer and cultural opportunities. Black culture is powerful, and it must be treated in its full humanity. Anything less will not be accepted. This is our new contract.


Hero Talk Episode 16: Don't Do It Featuring, Former Nike VP of Innovation, Danny Tawiah

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Hero Talk

Hero Talk Episode 16: Don't Do It Featuring, Former Nike VP of Innovation, Danny Tawiah


Urban/Black Media Veteran, Len Burnett Joins Hero Collective as Head of Urban Media Innovation.

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Health

Urban/Black Media Veteran, Len Burnett Joins Hero Collective as Head of Urban Media Innovation.

As Hero Collective continues to diversify beyond a traditional agency, it taps longtime Urban/Black media veteran Leonard Burnett, to become Hero Collective’s first Head of Urban/Black Media Innovation. Burnett brings an impressive list of accomplishments and achievements to the position including being the former Publisher of Vibe Magazine, Vice President of Vanguard Media and Co-Founder of Uptown Media, where he is helping brands reach affluent African American audiences.

Burnett will be leading a team to develop new and innovative media platforms and technologies that serve diverse audiences. “It’s no secret that Black, Hispanic and urban media platforms have not evolved at the pace necessary to compete in a rapidly changing media landscape,” says Burnett. Burnett will be working closely with Hero Collective CEO, Joe Anthony to ideate and develop new platforms primed and positioned to disrupt the Black/Urban media industry. “I’ve known Len for almost 20 years and am excited to finally be working with him to redefine the urban/black media landscape,” says Hero Collective CEO, Joe Anthony.

Burnett will continue to operate Uptown Media, which will undoubtedly benefit from the new collaboration. The group’s efforts will be centered on the development of platforms for healthcare, wellness, fintech, financial literacy, local news and short form content. The team is currently working with their partners to accelerate the beta release of several applications before the end of the year. “We are focused on taking back ownership of our content and our narrative, long overdue change is coming,” says John Frazier, Head of Curation & Group Creative Director.

About Hero Collective:

Hero Collective is a minority-owned marketing and digital innovation studio focused on working with and building brands committed to creating social impact.


Well-State: What’s Next for Wellness?

Hero State:

Hero State Principle

Well-State: What’s Next for Wellness?

Anxiety and isolation have consumed the global imagination during the shutdown, particularly with younger generations. 65% of consumers said in a recent NPD survey that they believe the worst impacts are still to come. Concern for pandemics, elections, and the environment has put national anxiety levels into overdrive, presenting the wellness industry with the challenge/opportunity of finding new ways to respond to a shifting consumer psyche. Even as shelter-in-place orders relax, a return to social life as we knew it will be a slow process with an evolving emphasis on health.

As consumers look for protection, both literal and metaphorical, wellness brands providing safety and functionality will thrive. With the cosmetics industry taking a hit on beauty-related products, even teen spending on cosmetics dipped during the pandemic (Piper Jaffray), the focus will move toward new health initiatives, including teletherapy, and new immune supplements from brands like Hilma. Digital innovations are going beyond mindfulness to engage consumers virtually. The #selfcare app, for example, presents users with calming everyday tasks to complete in the digital world. Health and fitness apps already saw a 40% increase in downloads during the shutdown and will continue to shift more into the home wellness space. Is Zoom yoga the future ClassPass?

Self-love will also come into play as consumers find escapism in pampering and humor, with an emphasis on togetherness and shared stories. The popularity of The Social Distance Project, for example, or humorous publications riffing on popular TV shows like Sex and the City’s “Carrie’s Covid Columns,” bring irreverent humor to pandemic culture. The “treat yourself” mantra will move into the sensory space, with essential oils, candles, and quarantine baking being seen as wellness staples. Brands can engage in this space by becoming the ideal listeners and offering consumers the antidotes they need, from moments of playful levity to mental health tools.


A New Leadership Framework Emerges Around Collaboration

Hero State:

Hero State Principle

A New Leadership Framework Emerges Around Collaboration

As states begin to reopen across the country, new leadership emerged from the crisis from health officials and organizations, doctors and essential workers, and state governors. Despite small backlash movements, 70% of Americans reportedly approve of how their Governors handled the crisis, highlighting how state leaders asserted themselves onto the national stage over the last two months. As a result, consumers are turning to experts, scientists, and facts for guidance and safety once again. Brand and industry leaders during the pandemic, those who adjusted quickly and presented the right message, are finding a new way forward at the beginning of the “reopening” period through smart collaborative efforts.

While The Economist warns about the possible demise of globalization as we’ve come to know it, industries all over the world are keenly watching each other, looking for what’s working and what’s not, quickly learning from one another and adapting their playbook in real-time. An uncertain future means brands cannot rest, get comfortable, or assume that business as usual will resume. In this space we’ve seen the emergence of unusual collaborations – Apple and Google partnering up to launch a Covid-19 contact tracing network, smart adaptations like Stella McCartney’s cautious reopening plan, or brands like Nike continuing to focus on extraordinary community-based storytelling.

While rising to the occasion was crucial at the height of the crisis, playing a key restructuring role during this next “reopening” period could be even more crucial as companies, brands and even individuals come together to reconsider both their industry and their place in it. In fashion, for example, a group of brands and designers have launched a manifesto titled “#rewiring” the fashion industry, proposing a new set of rules that could drastically change the industry’s landscape. Consider how you’re listening, collaborating, and adjusting to your new normal is essential for the evolution of commerce in a post-Covid world.

Ask yourself, are you at the forefront of the changes happening in your industry? How are you leading the way toward a better business model? What were the challenges already facing your industry, and how can the shutdown be your opportunity for a smarter restart?


Hero Talk Episode 15: Covid-19 While Black, Featuring Brent Toussaint

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Hero Talk

Hero Talk Episode 15: Covid-19 While Black, Featuring Brent Toussaint


Hero Talk Episode 14: Apple's Former Head of Marketing for Latin America, Arturo Nuñez, Talks Leadership, Diversity and Finding Your North Star in Times of Crisis!

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Hero Talk

Hero Talk Episode 14: Apple's Former Head of Marketing for Latin America, Arturo Nuñez, Talks Leadership, Diversity and Finding Your North Star in Times of Crisis!