The Curtain Raiser
Jason Schlossberg is Global Head of Marketing at Huge, as well as an executive sponsor of Huge Moves. Having joined Huge in 2017, Schlossberg was the driving force behind the company’s award-winning strategic communications craft. He is known for endless curiosity, moral leadership, and hustle. With 20-plus years in the business, he knows where the industry's been, but prefers to think about where it'll go. Here, Schlossberg shares his thoughts on the making of this issue.
Out of Office
Out of Office
The Curtain Raiser
Words by Jennifer Leigh parker
Since February, we’ve been discussing how this platform should and could be tech-enabled. We went all-in on AI covers and NFTs. You had to convince our team to get on board. But how did you convince yourself?
Schlossberg: First and foremost, our publication is Huge Moves. Clearly that’s a play on Huge, but we think about huge moves in a very specific way. A huge move is a bold move that an organization makes which has a material impact on its business.
We also wanted the publication itself to be a huge move. Obviously it needed to be a magazine that was thoughtful, that benchmarked a very high journalistic standard, and that was beautiful. But it also had to exist in the world we live in today, where technology is a core component of everyone’s experience. So we incorporated tech into the cover — which, more specifically, is an exploration of how humans and AI can creatively interact.
Our cover art is also being minted as an NFT. A lot of people think NFTs are worthless, a fad, or even a scam. What’s your argument for minting, despite crypto’s volatility?
There’s two parts to this. The cover reflects a collaboration between AI, its generating software, and human designers. The question became, should we even embrace that? We decided that to shy away from AI would be putting our heads in the sand.
Also, we wanted to understand that process. I think that it really stretched our design team in really exciting ways. How you design when you wield AI as a tool is very different than when you wield a stylus. It still starts with a human idea; a human has to prompt the AI and edit what comes out of that experience. It was important for us to understand that, embrace that, and learn from that.
Then the question became, how do we utilize this technology to engage with our audience in a meaningful and modern way? So we started to think about the tenets of Web3, which is really about changing the dynamics between the platform and the audience. It’s less about a one-way broadcast, where the platform controls everything and the audience receives what’s given. Ultimately, we decided to design and mint limited edition digital tokens. We think it’s a powerful way of transforming the relationship between publication and audience.
You mentioned crypto volatility. I think that only matters if we were trying to build some sort of asset. From our perspective, the discussion around NFTs and digital tokens has been obscured and hurt by its association with the financial markets. The future of these tokens is less about that and more about transforming the nature of the relationship between the token creator and the token holder. In that sense, it’s about the relationship, not about the financial underpinnings of crypto.
It seems everyone is taking a leap. Do you see a lot of brands in that same boat?
For many brands, the whole process of turning products into digital tokens has been clunky and less than ideal, to put it politely. We’ve all had that experience, where it was a little bit confusing, complicated — what do you do with it once you have it?
We decided only to do it if we could make it a positive experience for ourselves and, more importantly, for our readers, and I think we achieved that. We created a very elegant, elevated minting experience that is also very educational. That was the goal.
Who would you say is our target audience?
Our reader is the Huge client; senior level business executives. These individuals are really grappling with existential questions around the future of their business. They’re either in legacy industries that are being disrupted, or they’re disruptors themselves. But they’re at this confluence where lots of change is happening very quickly. We would like this content to be something that they consider, and that provides inspiration, actionable insights, and even recommendations for how they can navigate the next year, and how they can set themselves up for success beyond that. That’s really who we’re writing for.
We’ve printed 3,000 copies of this issue. Why do you think print is still valuable?
Our media landscape is all about hot takes and snackable content. It’s about driving attention at whatever cost. I think that appeals to the worst in us. It leaves no room for nuanced conversations. The magazine is tackling complex, meaty issues that demand attention, care, and thought. You have to present multiple points of view. We chose to do that through a physical print magazine because it’s a contemplative platform. Big ideas need space and time, and we wanted to help people get back to that.
I also firmly believe that the experience of reading and engaging with long-form content has a positive effect on us. Chalk it up to humans’ innate neuroplasticity and ability to adapt. It really helps rewire us and transform us into more thoughtful humans.
The medium is the message?
To a certain extent, yes. But more than that the medium actually changes the reader. That’s the part that I’m personally very excited about. That is the power of product.