Three questions for ... Nicolas Pellet, MAD Director

After around a decade working in the music industry, Nicolas Pellet joined the Condé Nast Group to set up and develop its video department. He then caught the attention of the Figaro Group which contacted him about managing the creation of a new digital media to target fashion enthusiasts between 18 and 30 years old. The name MAD is a nod to the Madame Figaro magazine which shares common ground with the new media. MAD was launched on 18 April and now employs seven people. But the real total – including regular exterior contributors such as authors and filmmakers – is 25 people, all working to guarantee the project’s success. And after the first eight months, MAD is already a phenomenon.

 

Why was MAD created? What does this new fashion digital media offer? How is it innovative?

The Figaro Group wanted to create a digital media brand dedicated to the generation of 18- to 30-year-olds, while still benefiting from in-house savoir-faire and especially the Madame Figaro teams, which help us so much. So we set up fashion’s first video and social pure player. This new media speaks out on style in a radical way by shattering classic codes. By using straightforward language to focus on pleasure and entertainment, MAD is in line with the new ways content is consumed. We’re as atypical as our business structure, since we’re also a division of the Social & Stories Agency. This double back-up – Social & Stories and Madame Figaro – gives us the agility of a startup and the strength and experience of a big group.

 

It’s been eight months since MAD started, do you already have results and figures to share? Have you met your objectives?

Our original objective was to have 100,000 subscribers between the different networks at the end of 2018. We’re in good shape to achieve that goal since we were at 92,000 at the end of November and our audience has a 20 percent monthly growth rate. As for videos, today a total of 13 million videos have been viewed with 2 million videos seen each month. Here too, we’re on track! It’s essential for us to build a quality audience that’s qualified and engaged, one we can count on for the long term. Some media pull in big audience numbers with marketing tools like contests, buying pages, etc. We don’t work like that. We focus on creating a long-term audience for our message which addresses fashion aficionados. Our targeting process is intelligent and practical to prioritise loyalty.

 

How should fashion brands communicate now? What are the challenges given the growth of digital media? How do you position MAD in relation to these new strategies?

It’s clear that brands must adapt their message to the new ways content is consumed: first through mobile devices, and through social media as another main channel. But there’s also competition for attention. A recent study showed that 80 percent of brands could disappear without their audience even noticing! So it’s a major challenge for companies as well as media to find a way to communicate that engages the public. That means the choice of format is central. With an advertising poster campaign you can, with different versions, be visible for six to nine months. Digital operations have a lifespan of 15 days to a month. So you have to be able to design repeating formats that become signatures and establish contact with a public. When we created MAD we kept that in mind. We wanted to give solutions to luxury companies and to everyone who wanted to collaborate with a premium, quality media. The core of our strategy is the co-creation of the content MAD hosts. I strongly believe in this model. And it has great appeal! When we kicked off MAD’s business side on 1 June, I did a road show to introduce the media and our way of working. The response was excellent as we received several briefs. And in barely six months we had signed 15 operations with advertisers – a very good sign. One of the most ambitious and representative was the one we did with Levi’s. Together we created a four-episode program on the ties between music and fashion – a strong Levi’s theme. It was broadcast from end October to end November. We had enormous creative freedom and the collaboration with the brand and its media agency was dynamic and positive. The result was that the program had excellent performance.