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The making of Media for Humankind

September 23, 2019
Susan Vobejda
Chief Marketing Officer

“Help us find the soul of our brand.”

- Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk, early 2018

As marketing challenges go, this was a big, inspiring one. Jeff gave me this task during a 1:1 early in my tenure as CMO at The Trade Desk. It isn’t often that a CMO has the opportunity to work on a company’s first brand campaign, let alone for a company as special as The Trade Desk. I keep the notes from that meeting in the top drawer of my desk.

Jeff’s request sent our company and marketing team on an 18-month journey, looking at everything from how we engineer our products to how we engage clients to how we work with industry partners. One theme became clear very quickly: The Trade Desk is focused on making a positive impact for everyone, from advertisers to content providers to consumers.

This common purpose has remained unchanged since The Trade Desk’s founding in 2009. We believe that the open internet is the best way to fuel a global marketplace of content and ideas, and that it empowers everyone producing that content — from journalists and broadcasters to media creators and idea generators of every type. Today, this open internet mission is more important than ever. We all want a media ecosystem that supports a broad diversity of content and voices.

To bring this project to life, we partnered with the advertising agency BBH, who held a mirror to our brand to help deepen our understanding of who we are. Through that process, we landed on our “why” — the soul of our brand.

We wrote our mission as: “Transforming Media for the Benefit of Humankind.” And then we shortened it to a tagline: “Media for Humankind.”

It’s a hugely aspirational brand statement. But at our core, it’s what we stand for and what drives everything we do. After we saw this idea from BBH, I told Jeff we were flying to California to present one big “swing for the fences” idea.

“Good,” he replied. “Even if you miss, that’s what I want you to do.”

The Media For Humankind campaign launching today features consumers who represent all of us — the main beneficiaries of an open internet. To capture the diversity and uniqueness of people around the world, we enlisted award-winning photographer Martin Schoeller — known for his soulful, intimate portraiture that captures the essence of the human experience.

Our launch comes at a time when the vitality of the open internet is more important than ever. There are growing concerns about the transparency of the information that tech platforms share with marketers. The idea that the open internet represents a compelling alternative feels more relevant than ever, gaining vocal support from some of the world’s leading advertisers and content providers.

I want to thank our partners at BBH and our internal creative and marketing organizations who have worked tirelessly on this brand platform. I hesitate to call it an advertising campaign. It’s bigger than that. It’s our mission and strategy writ large, at a time when the market really needs its leaders to stand up for the future of digital advertising.

Our team set out to create a technology campaign that is very different than convention, and I am so proud of their work.

Susan Vobejda
The Trade Desk