Video Platform Quibi Will Launch in April With 6 Brand Partners Including P&G, Walmart and PepsiCo

Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg reached out to brands before he hired CEO Meg Whitman

Chief brand officer P&G Marc Pritchard, Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg on stage at Cannes Lions 2019. Getty Images

CANNES, France—Before he hired his first employee at new streaming service Quibi Hollywood, super producer Jeffrey Katzenberg began reaching out to big brands.

Two and a half years later, P&G, Google, Walmart, Progressive, AbInBev and PepsiCo are on board as launch partners for the mobile-only, short-form video platform that will launch April 6, 2020.

“We are doing something different for advertisers,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi, during a discussion about what the service is (and what it promises to be) at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity Wednesday morning.

“This is a premium brand-safe environment. There is no user-generated content. Nothing gets on this app that we don’t say gets on this app,” she added.

“I won’t even call it advertising,” said Pritchard, who joined Whitman and Katzenberg on stage in the final 10 minutes of the talk, which was moderated by MediaLink’s Michael Kassan.

“What our expectations are is that hard-to-reach Gen Z and millennial audience that is decreasingly watching TV at all,” said Pritchard. “We have to be able to have brands tell stories in a new way,” added Whitman.

All Quibis, as the pieces of content are called, will be seven to 10 minutes long. Shorter content will include a six- or 10-second non-skippable preroll ad, while longer content will have a 15-second non-skippable preroll.

“There are high expectations, because this is like other media, and it has to perform,” said Pritchard.

“We can instrument this app down to find every bit of data,” said Whitman, who added much thought was given to the user experience, including “portrait vs. landscape.”

“We want to be able to do portrait-to-landscape seamlessly,” she explained. “So this is something we’ve tackled and we’re excited about how that looks.”

There are two Quibi offerings, $4.99 a month for an ads option, and $7.99 for no ads. “We think 70 percent will pick the ad option for the better price,” said Whitman. Quibi stand for quick bites and includes the eight Hollywood studios as investors and big name producers like Steven Spielberg, Anton Fuqua and Guillermo Del Toro attached to projects.

By next week, 161 people will work for Quibi. That number includes includes “25 content executives with an average age of probably 30,” said Katzenberg. Content creators and engineers work side by side in Los Angeles. “I had friends tell me you cannot put a tech team in LA, that’s a disaster,” said Whitman. “And it’s been the opposite of a disaster.”

“We look with great admiration at YouTube, which has blossomed today into the most egalitarian communications platform on the globe by a factor of 200,” said Katzenberg.

As for what he wants Quibi to be? “The single most important thing in our mission statement was ‘be the audience,'” he said.

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@ChrisAriens Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.