Few businesses know the power of word-of-mouth growth more than Pinterest. It first hit the internet in 2009, and within a few years, caught major steam. Before Instagram became the de facto platform for inspiration and images, Pinterest was the internet’s go-to spot for finding the good things online, from recipes to hair tutorials.
Though the space is more crowded today, Pinterest remains a hub of ideas and action, an endless stream of craft ideas and fashion photos. But because of that rapid early expansion, Pinterest hasn’t done much in the way of traditional marketing. In fact, the company didn’t even have a chief marketing officer until last year, when Andréa Mallard, a veteran of brands like Athleta and Omada Health, was appointed to the role in November 2018.
“The product had become such a beloved product so quickly, and it spread by word of mouth, there was sort of a feeling, ‘We don’t need marketing; the product is telling its own story,'” Mallard told Adweek of Pinterest’s approach toward marketing before her arrival. “But it’s grown so big, and it’s now global, there was a realization by the two founders that, ‘Wait a second, we actually now need to be much clearer in explaining who we are and why it really matters in order to have the cultural gravity to have a lasting, iconic global brand.'”
Building up that cultural gravity is a big part of Mallard’s job. Her goal is to ramp up Pinterest’s marketing business, which will include embracing the more traditional sides of advertising.
“I think we have to do traditional marketing, especially as we expand globally,” she said. “We’re still going to run comprehension driving campaigns, we’re still going to build really interesting projects that help amplify what makes us different and interesting. But we’re going to run some really interesting bigger brand campaigns, so you will probably see us on TV, in out-of-home and in print.”
Television, out-of-home and print are all places Pinterest hasn’t really been seen before. And Mallard said that in the months since she’s arrived at Pinterest, there’s been a lot of working with the team to educate them about the more traditional sides of marketing, and why the company should be embracing it as Pinterest embarks on its next chapter.
“It’s been interesting to walk into a role where I have to teach a lot of the organization about the value marketing can bring, and what a 21st century marketing organization looks like and works like,” she said. “And that’s not just telling a good story, it’s actually saying, ‘How are we building a brand together?’ and ‘What does this product mean to me?’ What does our business model need to be and how do we need to operate in order to be able to tell the stories we want to tell?”
The stories that Mallard hopes Pinterest will tell center around inspiration, and being an online destination for positivity and allowing people to find the things that help them to “create a life they love.”
“I like to think we’re one of the last positive corners of the internet,” she said. “The world needs a place where you have the permission to pause and focus on yourself, or to look at incredible things that inspire you and help you imagine the possibilities for your own life.”
It’s a fitting story for Pinterest to tell, as it’s embracing new possibilities within its own business—namely, through traditional marketing. Mallard said this side of the business is something that the entire Pinterest team is ready to embrace.
She said: “Everyone’s excited about a day when I could walk down the street and see the Pinterest point of view staring back at me in the real world.”