Kyle Wong is the CEO of the award-winning UGC and influencer marketing platform Pixlee, which has played an important role in our Love Has No Labels and She Can Stem campaigns by providing the technology that powers community submissions. Recently, Pixlee partnered on our #AloneTogether campaign, helping people stay connected while staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Kyle is also a member of the Ad Council’s Leadership Council.
We sat down with him to discuss the implications of COVID-19, our country’s ongoing reckoning with police brutality, anti-Blackness and systemic racism, and what he’s learned the past few months.
Naomi Woolfenden: How has the way you run your business changed amid COVID-19? How has it stayed the same?
Kyle Wong: All of us shifted to full-remote work by March. Since then, we’ve had to be creative on how we build culture and collections. One thing that worked really well for us was shifting our all-hands meeting to delve into each employee’s working style. Everyone has gotten to know each other on a more personal level. Since we already had so many processes in place to work remotely as a distributed team, we remained very efficient during the transition.
NW: Our country continues to reckon with police brutality, anti-Black racism and systemic oppression. As the leader of a company, what have you learned during this time?
KW: During these times, I’ve found that it’s really important to communicate and listen, even if you’re a little unsure what the right answer is. Also, it’s more important what you do internally than what you say externally—and your action needs to be consistent.
It’s more important what you do internally than what you say externally—and your action needs to be consistent.
NW: How have COVID-19 and our country’s reckoning with systemic racism altered your outlook on our industry’s responsibilities?
KW: Marketing and advertising play a critical role in representation and storytelling. There is a moral and business case for diverse content in marketing and advertising. At a basic level, we all need to push harder for more diverse content.
NW: Why do you think it’s important for brands to have a corporate social responsibility plan in the world we live in?
KW: Today, brands aren’t who they say they are—they’re who the consumer perceives them as. Consumers care that the brands they’re working with are mission driven. And that mission must be rooted in authenticity. Brands can’t fake it.
Today, brands aren’t who they say they are—they’re who the consumer perceives them as.
NW: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work?
KW: Diversity and inclusion are a core part of our work at Pixlee. The core premise of Pixlee is to help brands use authentic stories and real people to market their products. One of the great things about working in the UGC and influencer industry is that it can power a better representation of the diversity of your customer base. It's not dictated by one person's opinion but that of your community.
We’ve found that diversity matters in marketing images, and brands that use user-generated content resonate better with their audience while bringing better representation to all channels.
NW: What recent work have you done that you’re most proud of?
KW: As a company, we chose to offer everyone time off to participate in civic engagements around Black Lives Matter—we wanted to make sure everyone could take part in their community as they saw fit. Personally, I recently spoke on the Adweek Asian American Summit to discuss racism against Asian Americans in the COVID era. I hadn’t addressed this topic before, and I was inspired to speak out and share my experiences.
NW: What’s keeping you energized in your work these days? What’s bringing you hope?
KW: Watching our team members go above and beyond for each other and customers. Adversity requires people to step up, and we’ve seen this across our whole organization. I’m also proud of how our product has helped our customers during this time. Social media and ecommerce marketers are under immense pressure, and Pixlee has provided a cost-effective way to scale content.
NW: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
KW: In many work environments, pressure is a privilege. It means you’re in a position where you have an impact.