Digiday Dubs Gary Vaynerchuck ‘The Ad Industry’s Lightning Rod’

By Erik Oster 

Today Digiday published a profile on VaynerMedia founder Gary Vaynerchuck entitled “#TheHustler: How Gary Vee became the ad industry’s lightning rod” and, well, where do we even begin?

The story documents VaynerMedia’s rise from social media agency to a full-service shop which “competes in major pitches against big, full-service firms, from Droga5 to Deutsch.”

And which account did it win away from Droga5? Shea Moisture, of course.


The piece touches on Vaynerchuck’s persona and the agency’s reputation for bro culture. Shareen Pathak writes that while some admire Vaynerchuck for launching an agency as an outsider disrupting the status quo of the industry, others are “convinced he’s a charlatan who uses his personal charms to sell clients a big, juicy nothingburger,” with one source describing Vaynerchuck as both the “Donald Trump of advertising” and the “Andrew Breitbart of the industry.”

Touching on the closing of the agency’s San Francisco office last November and rounds of layoffs in January and earlier this month, Vaynerchuck dismissed the notion that they were related to overestimating new business wins, saying, “Too many people slows us down. I care about speed.”

According to Digiday, Vaynermedia’s culture can be fairly unforgiving at times, with employees fired for a single typo in a tweet, despite an official policy of “three strikes and you’re out.”

Still, the office has a reputation as a “chaotic, bro-tastic place.”

“It was like being back in college,” one former community manager told the publication, referring to the “bro culture” of the agency. Another former staffer said the agency’s interviews too often came down to the beer test, which “created a sameness. There wasn’t any room for introverts.”

On the bro tip, former “CFbrO” Scott Heydt—who left the agency last November—told Pathak that, although some staffers did leave Vayner in the past, many returned after realizing that “making $10,000 more was not enough reason to switch jobs.” So he just admitted that Vayner pays less than other shops.

Looking ahead, Vaynerchuck claims he will “announce 71 promotions in the next two weeks” as his company looks to expand its media capabilities with a new studio in Long Island City.

He concludes the profile by comparing himself to the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan.

“People are confused. It seems like they think because I’m blogging I’m not here,” he said. “Ninety percent of the time, I’m the CEO of this company. I think I put myself out there, but I don’t see those as challenges. I mean, what was the biggest vulnerability for the Chicago Bulls? It was Michael Jordan.”

Good thing the dude is humble.