Gary Vee Talks ‘Barbie’ Campaign, AI, Twitter Rebrand and More

Gary Vee at Variety Australia CMO
Robert Meredith

Play with AI, regularly. Focus on now. And for musicians, don’t limit yourself to the creation of music.

Those are some of the insights shared by Gary Vaynerchuk, the serial entrepreneur better known as Gary Vee, as he took the mic for a special Q&A session last month at Variety Australia’s inaugural CMO Dinner.

Earlier on, Vee played-down his crystal ball-gazing talents. “I don’t think I see around corners,” he told The Brag Media CEO Luke Girgis for a special fireside chat.

“I grew up marketing in a manner that was very focused on driving sales,” he explained, attributing some of his scouting talents on having learned from a “Soviet immigrant father” who owned a business and was “super interested in what was going on at the cash register.”

On cracking the Fortune 500 marketing world more than a decade ago, Vee observed that “our industry is incredibly good at putting yesterday on a pedestal and putting tomorrow on a pedestal and struggling to maximise today.”

Maximising now should include a regular diet of AI.

Vee spends an “enormous” amount of time on AI. “You should be educated, you shouldn’t say no,” he enthused. “Everyone should be playing with it on a weekly basis.” Not playing with AI today is comparable to those people you made fun of 20 years ago for not going on the Internet, he warned.

The Luddites, those boomers who yell and scream at change and progress, they’re cursed to become their own parents. “I would encourage people to play with (AI)”.

CMOs and the wider creative industry is playing “in a training wheel space. Really, you should be doing this for yourself because there’s no outcome where technology is not profoundly important, and that is the bigger issue,” he remarked on AI. “And opportunity.”

Seven Network and Gary Vee partnership

Gary Vee

Vee also encouraged executives to embrace accountability.

“When are human beings going to start to fall in love with accountability? Instead of us spending all our time being mad at the media, and social media, and influencers, and algorithms,” he continued, “maybe it’s time to start having a conversation about humanity’s capacity to take in multiple data sets and actually make decisions for themselves. Maybe the big issue is that we like blaming things that are exposing our truth.”

The U.S. businessman and thinker has a decades-long relationship with Australia which began with entry into the booming wine industry in the 1990s and became deeper still when his company VaynerMedia, the global creative and media agency, recently forged a strategic partnership with Seven Network.

VaynerMedia was worked with such clients as Tinder, Unilever, Diageo, PepsiCo and TikTok, a company which, under its new chief Elon Musk, has undergone a major rebranding.

The social platform has emerged with the new name X, a theme Musk has coveted for some time and has finally applied to one of his assets.

Vee has thoughts.

“The logic is that they’ll try to build a full stack multi-dimensional new app,” he told guests at the exclusive, invite-only function, “and I think the strategy there is, if we start with a fresh slate, there’s more acceptance of being able to do that.”

The story of Twitter-turned-X will be written “based on the execution.” That’s a “lot of brand equity to give up.”

Vee also shared his ideas on the campaign that powered Barbie to box-office records (the “360 nature” of it “was so well done”), the balance between math and art in marketing (“they have to dance together”), his “biggest hope and dreams” for CMOs (bring “media and creative” back under one roof) and some advice for the musicians on the rise.

If it were up to him, Vee would pursue only those artists who knew how to market — musicians who were “equally creatives.”

In a world flush with talent, “I wouldn’t take the risk of signing an artist just on the quality of the music.”

The catch is, musicians in 2023 and beyond also need a handle on creating content for the myriad social platforms.

(From left to right) The Brag Media’s Luke Girgis, Twilio’s Nicholas Kontopoulos, VaynerMedia’s Gary Vee and Segment’s Liz Adeniji

Consider Lil Nas X. The “Old Town Road” star is “a growth hacker. He was going at that for a while, then he figured it out,” Vee reckons. “Lil Nas X is more MrBeast than Kanye West and that is a blueprint of where this is going.”

Variety Australia’s CMO dinner was held in Sydney, bringing together some of the country’s top entertainment, tech and wider business CMOs.

Guest speakers on the night included Suzanne Stretton-Brown, Director Of Marketing ANZ at Universal Pictures International Australasia, Seven Network’s Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Hopkins and Twilio’s Vice President of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan Nicholas Kontopoulos.

Watch Gary Vee’s fireside chat with Luke Girgis below.