The 2021 Met Gala may not have taken place on the traditional first Monday in May, but the glamorous fundraiser was certainly one to remember, with Vogue touting record breaking digital engagement around the event.
Vogue was simultaneously the engine behind and the primary benefactor of a massive amount of audience attention for this year’s event — which, after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was postponed until Sept. 13. The magazine reports that nearly 15 million viewers watched the exclusive red carpet live stream hosted by guests Keke Palmer and Ilana Glazer for Vogue.com and the magazine’s Twitter account. That figure — which combines all global views of the video, both live on and VOD, and across Twitter and O&O — totaled approximately 54 million minutes of content watched. Vogue’s Met content pulled in more than 200 million views across all social platforms.
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The Met Gala — considered fashion’s biggest night — always draws a big audience, but what made this year take hold of the pop culture zeitgeist so significantly?
“It’s perhaps strange to say that the Met Ball felt well timed this year,” Anna Wintour, Vogue’s Global Editorial Director and U.S. Editor-in-Chief and Condé Nast’s Chief Content Officer, told Variety in a statement. “But after all the careful planning and precautions the teams went through, I do think that there was a special sense of celebration. And our livestream captured it for audiences all around the world.”
As the longtime architect behind the Met Gala fundraiser, Wintour served as an honorary chair for the event alongside Tom Ford and Instagram’s Adam Mosseri. Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and Naomi Osaka co-chaired the Costume Institute Benefit, which paid tribute to American fashion and raised a record-breaking $16.75 million.
“What a wonderful way to play a part in the creativity and positivity in the American fashion community,” Wintour continued. “I want to thank the teams at Vogue, Condé Nast Entertainment and the Met for their hard work. I’m so very proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
For Vogue specifically, one factor was a major innovation in their strategy for covering the Met Gala. The company employed Palmer and Glazer to host the official livestream (with YouTube superstar Emma Chamberlain working a separate red carpet position), but also invested significantly in producing exclusive content with other guests attending the event, filming behind-the-scenes videos of stars planning their looks or getting ready for the event, including Eilish, Blackpink’s Rosé, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cara Delevingne, Grimes, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes.
“Vogue’s Met Gala coverage delivered like never before, with original video content leading up to the night, covering the event itself and generating ongoing cultural impact around the world,” Agnes Chu, president of Condé Nast Entertainment added, noting that audience engagement was particularly influenced by the company’s unparalleled access to the event and the stars attending. This strategy is set to be repeated for the Super Bowl (with GQ) and at Vanity Fair’s 2022 Academy Awards after party.
“It is a testament to the influence of our brands at Conde Nast — that we build an exceptional storytelling ecosystem, meeting our audiences everywhere they are,” Chu added.
As far as the post-event landscape goes, the internet has been awash with Met Gala social moments in the days since the party — including a viral photo of Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner posing side-by-side, or Chalamet and Palmer’s interview, pictured above, where viewers analyzed the pair’s chemistry.
And if it feels like the memes have been even more prevalent than usual, Vogue notes that their own social engagement numbers are up significantly from years past. For example, an Instagram reel posted to Vogue’s account of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner’s red-carpet meet up garnered 30 million views, nearly tripling the number of views for the previous record holder (11 million). Plus, in a first for Condé Nast Entertainment, the brand had multiple videos from one title trending on YouTube simultaneously
And it wasn’t just Vogue that saw a big boost from the Met Gala: Variety’s coverage of the event brought in 65 million video views on social channels.
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