This year, Fortune has been throwing its weight behind editorial franchises. So it only makes sense that the magazine’s biggest franchise—the annual Fortune 500 list—will be rolling out with more fanfare than ever before.
On May 7, the first Fortune 500 Day will kick off with a reveal of the list on CBS This Morning, followed by events including job fairs, the ringing of the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange and a Fortune 500 Day Dinner.
“The Fortune 500 has become, in some ways, bigger than Fortune,” publisher Jed Hartman told Adweek. “It made some sense to really take it to the next level and seize the relevance of the conversation today.”
The list is especially relevant when it comes to current political talking points, from the need for employment to the role of corporate America. “The big talk, especially with the election, is job creation, and the Fortune 500 employs 16 million U.S. workers,” said Hartman. “Our slogan has been that although small businesses are the heart and soul of the American economy, Fortune 500 companies are the backbone—not only in job creation, but in the vendors they support and the products they buy.”
The magazine is also hoping to change how the public views the companies on Fortune's list. “People bash big business these days, but there’s a lot of real benefits that accrue to our society,” said Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer, who planned to spend his Fortune 500 Day passing out issues of the magazine to companies around New York City. "People talk about small companes creating jobs, but these are the jobs with benefits."
At the Fortune 500 dinner, speakers like Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, will take the stage. Serwer and Hartman will also moderate a discussion about bringing returning military veterans into the business world, which is the focus of this year’s Fortune 500 issue. “Job creation as it relates to vets is extremely topical right now, and it’s going to be the Fortune 500 that puts these guys to work,” said Hartman. Fortune 500 companies are also planning to honor veterans in the magazine itself by taking out ads supporting the troops.