Social movements begin in a lot of places—schools, backyards, basements, houses of worship and college campuses, to name a few. But Kindred, a new organization from Ian Schafer and Anil D. Aggarwal, is hoping it can foster the sort of thinking that leads to such movements.
Launching today with $3 million in venture funding, Kindred “brings together communities of influential creators, platforms and purpose-driven brands to accelerate the next generation of social movements,” according to a company statement. It’ll do so primarily through events. The most prominent of these, called Quests, will link influencers and nonprofits in in-person settings to discuss changes that need to happen and how they can use their influence to make them. Quests will cumulate in a flagship event, set for May 2020 in San Diego, that expands upon the ideas that came out of the Quests with a larger audience, which the company predicts will be over 2,500 people.
Schafer, the former CEO of advertising agency Deep Focus, said his idea in launching a project like Kindred came from a longing to “find ways to use our powers for good.” People are consuming fewer PSA-style messages than ever before, particularly as social media has grown and traditional media has slowed. Schafer said that’s where the influencers come in.
“Individual content creators are able to move people toward some kind of action,” Schafer told Adweek. “Just the way that they’ve been used and worked with to make that action happen has historically been a commercial way.”
Inspired by movements like March for Our Lives and the #MeToo movement, Schafer and Aggarwal felt they needed a place to create the sort of culture that sparks such movements.
“Culture is the thing that makes societal change most likely,” Schafer said. “You need to apply the right kind of cultural pressure to make institutions change. That culture grows the more densely connected the people creating that culture are.”
The choice to go the events route seems obvious, particularly considering Aggarwal’s experience in the arena, having founded events like Shoptalk and Groceryshop. The hope is that with Quests, like-minded content creators and causes will have a place to connect and create deep relationships that go beyond screens and could lead to real change. Schafer also noted that people are more likely to thoughtfully listen when someone is speaking to them in person, compared with the often vitriolic debate that occurs online.
“In the history of movements, the physical convention of people, that is the thing that makes the biggest difference,” he said. “When you feel like you’re a part of a crowd, physically, it’s very different than when you feel like you’re part of a crowd digitally.”
Brands will also have a way to get in on the action. Kindred will facilitate meetings between influencers and like-minded brands at its 2020 event. Some of Kindred’s early partners are Twitter, S’Well, the Ad Council, HBO and the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab.
“Most of the time, brands tend to work with creators in ways that are aligned vertically towards their commercial categories,” Schafer said. “We’re going to be doing it a little differently and facilitating conversations between creators who deeply care about missions and purpose and the brands who share that.”