Four years ago, after stints at Wayfair and Criteo, Andrew Horwitz became an account manager at Pinterest, where he has worked with us on nearly 20 campaigns, including our work this year to address the rise in bias and hate crimes against the AAPI community. We sat down with him to get his advice on driving impact and how social media can be a force for good.
Felicia Carmichael: Hi, Andrew. Could you start by telling us how you came to work with the Ad Council?
Andrew Horwitz: For about four years, I’ve been with the sales and marketing team at Pinterest—a company that I had long admired—working on CPG partnerships based in New York. A colleague had been supporting their initiatives and invited me to take her place as she transitioned into a new role. And I’m so glad she did.
We have run nearly 20 campaigns together for a wide variety of causes including pet adoption, anti-vaping, social justice and vaccinations. I feel fortunate and proud to have formed such a strong partnership with this impactful organization.
FC: Earlier this year, you worked with us to find ways for Pinterest to amplify our work addressing the rise in bias and hate crimes against the AAPI community. Do you have advice for people who want to find ways to drive impact on important causes within their own organization? How can people advocate for social good causes at every level within their workplace?
AH: One of the sales leaders here at Pinterest often quotes Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers.”
I believe that people innately want to lend a helping hand, but often need to be presented with an opportunity. So if you are someone who is feeling stuck in your day-to-day routine, I encourage you to find and lean on a community that cares about similar things to you or is working to make a difference in an area that you care about. Don’t underestimate the power of community and the strength in gathering for a shared cause. All it takes is one Slack message, email or video conference to start building community or a movement, however small.
FC: How have the last 18 months changed your outlook on your day-to-day work life and your overall mission? Was there a moment when you were especially proud of your coworkers?
AH: The last 18 months have underscored the fact that we do not exist or work in a vacuum. Our personal and professional lives are inextricably tied and failing to acknowledge this denies our humanity and the experiences we all share.
I’ve had the privilege of working with an incredible team of dedicated, bright, and compassionate people here at Pinterest. Looking back, I am so proud of the work we’ve done to support Black Lives Matter and Love Has No Labels, and the ongoing mission to reduce vaccine hesitancy and create a safe and inspiring world. We recently reviewed the impact of our vaccine campaign with the Ad Council team, and I was floored to share that we reached 100 million people in the U.S. who used our platform to get their vaccine questions answered.
FC: And since March 2020, what stories have moved you personally? What do those stories have in common?
AH: Being in New York City during the height of the pandemic was a scary and stressful experience filled with uncertainty, especially in the early days. Looking back on this time, I was most moved by the stories and the moments that reminded us of our collective humanity and interconnectedness: Championing front line workers with the 7PM tribute, when the streets were filled with New Yorkers cheering and banging pots. The apartment up the street that blasted “New York, New York” at full volume while my friend and I sang along with strangers on the street. The shared joy and exaltation that electrified the city when the election results were announced. In a world that can feel far more divided than unified, I have been buoyed by the reminders that we are more alike than we are different and that those differences should be celebrated.
FC: How can social media companies be a force for good?
AH: I am proud to work for a company that prioritizes people over profits. Over my four years at Pinterest, we have strengthened policies that make our platform a safer, happier and more accessible place. In a brutally divisive political climate with billions invested in political ads on digital media, we held our ground in banning these advertisements and chose the well-being of our users over our bank statements. In July, we updated our ad policy, prohibiting all ads featuring weight loss language and imagery to promote body positivity and acceptance. And we are constantly investing in inclusive products to make Pinterest feel like home for all Pinners.
The common theme here is intentionality and a shared company mission to inspire our users to live a life they love. This unifying mission permeates what we do, the decisions we make and how we operate. It’s not enough to simply want to do good. Being a force for good means making hard decisions and accepting tough sacrifices.
FC: What is the best advice you’ve ever received, and how did it help you?
AH: “Some days peanuts, some days shells.” Sometimes things work in your favor, and other times they don’t. I try to remind myself of this when things don’t go my way—it always makes me smile just a little bit.