James Kotecki (00:08): 

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki bringing you an interview that I recorded live at the C Space Studio at CES 2023. Enjoy. 


Welcome back to the C Space Studio here at CES 2023. I'm James Kotecki joined right now by Kenny Mitchell, CMO of Snap. Welcome to the show. 

Kenny Mitchell (00:30): 

Oh, thank you so much. Thanks for having me. 

James Kotecki (00:33): 

So Kenny, let's just start by having you define what does Snap the brand mean right now as we're heading into 2023? 

Kenny Mitchell (00:40): 

Oh, that's a wonderful question and a very timely question. Snapchat is a visual app that's all about in helping to enhance your relationships with your friends, your family, and the world around you. And we like to say the things that you care most about like the people you're close to, the things and culture that you really care about, Snapchat helps to make those good things better, right? 

James Kotecki (01:02): 


Kenny Mitchell (01:02): 

So we actually are just in the process of launching a new campaign to help dimensionalize this idea around enhancing relationships. And the consumer handle for it is where do you see this? And it's actually language that people commonly use if you're a Snapchatter. You want to show somebody something really cool on your device. You're like, Hey, hold, where do you see this? This is really awesome. And we kicked it off with an integration with Ryan Seacrest and the Rocking Eve New Year's Eve program where he and Liza Koshi, who was his co-host, they demonstrated the most popular lenses from Snapchat over the last few years. And it's a part of our strategy to try to help to bring Snapchat out into the world and show some of the fun, the quirkiness and the awesomeness that comes with the platform. 

James Kotecki (01:49): 

And what are the demographics of the user base and what are you targeting as far as your growth? 

Kenny Mitchell (01:53): 

Yeah, so I'd say our core demographic is 13 to 34 year old folks that are really, really comfortable and fluent with digital and mobile devices. But what's really interesting is it depends on the market. So we have a tremendous, tremendous amount of death here in the US but there are about 20 of the major mobile markets where Snap is incredibly popular and has over 75% penetration with people that are 13 to 34 years old. So I was just in Europe this past summer, and if you go to a place like Norway, two out of three people in Norway use Snapchat. 

James Kotecki (02:34): 

Okay. So it's got to be beyond the 34-year-olds. 

Kenny Mitchell (02:35): 

It's far beyond the 34 year olds. And in France we are the most popular digital social media platform across ages 13 to over 50. So it depends a bit on the market, but I'd say our core and bullseye is that Gen Z and young millennial. 

James Kotecki (02:52): 

And do you spend a lot of time maybe behind closed doors, thinking about how you define yourselves relative to other social media apps, what you're doing, what you're not doing, that they are doing that that's giving you some of that edge? 

Kenny Mitchell (03:04): 

What's really interesting is that Snapchat in a lot of ways is like the antidote to traditional social media. So it was created by two young founders, Evan and Bobby at Stanford University, and they were people that actually grew up with social media. So they went to college with platforms like Facebook that actually existed and they had this one really interesting and core insight when you had the propagation of mobile devices and you had this desire to be able to grow and evolve as a person and not live by the things that permanently exist out in the digital space. They said, "Hey, if people begin to use the camera and videos and pictures to help communicate, we feel like that's a really compelling use case." And then if you add on the notion of ephemerality, so those photos and videos actually disappear so you're not locked into an idea or a communication that you created when you were 15 or 21 or 25, you actually can run for office later. Those two insights came together and that was the launch or the hatch of Snapchat. 


And it's since then this notion of this visual communication that is personal between friends, not a bunch of followers and fans, but between friends and family has been really, really effective. And that's why we've seen so much continued growth on a platform. 

James Kotecki (04:34): 

Let's talk about the mobile devices and just generally the devices that this technology is running on right now. We're here at CES. Obviously, everybody's talking about the latest devices, but what are you practically thinking about as far as devices maybe beyond the smartphone, or just whatever the smartphone will turn into and where it is right now for how Snap is actually going to be interacting? Snapchat will interact with people? 

Kenny Mitchell (04:55): 

Yeah, I think that's a wonderful question. One of the things that is a massive priority for us is augmented reality. Snapchat is one of the pioneers in augmented reality. It's like overlaying computing into the real world. And you saw some of our early, I'd say experiments with wearable devices with the spectacles. 

James Kotecki (05:14): 


Kenny Mitchell (05:15): 

Right? The spectacles glasses. And we believe that augmented reality delivers a tremendous amount of value. Our community actually proves that out. So we have over 250 million people that use augmented reality experiences every single day. So it's actually, it's a developed and mature market in the space of Snapchat. 

James Kotecki (05:36): 

You mean, you talk about lenses or do you use those terms synonymously? 

Kenny Mitchell (05:38): 

Correct. Correct. The lenses are augmented reality experiences, and right now they are held on your little mobile device, but we believe over the fullness of time that you actually will have wearable devices that are going to be powered through the camera and through augmented reality that'll be hands free and will just open up all kinds of use cases and opportunities. And that's what the team is working really hard on right now. 

James Kotecki (06:01): 

And do you think I will somehow neurolink my brain to the glasses where I don't actually have to use my hands to control the visual lenses that I'm putting over the reality that I see? 

Kenny Mitchell (06:10): 

That's a great question. I don't think the technology is there, but I could see a world over the course of the next few decades where that could be possible. 

James Kotecki (06:18): 

Do you see what you're doing as part of building the metaverse? Do you use that term? Do you think it's a good term to use? 

Kenny Mitchell (06:25): 

I think metaverse, what's interesting about it is it's a bit of a catchphrase for the broader industry of things that are past Web 2.0, like all of these future technologies that didn't really have a handle. So some people will talk about the metaverse and refer to NFTs or crypto or the blockchain or AR or VR. So it's this handle for this next generation of computing. At Snap, we are firmly, firmly focused on augmented reality because we believe that it's the next and future computing platform. 

James Kotecki (07:01): 

This is getting a little bit philosophical, but I might as well give it a shot. Do you ever think about the philosophical nature of what it means for me to be able to walk around the world and really actually change what I see and what I experience and for have you and I to have dramatically different visualizations of the world? In a sense, I suppose we already do that because we have different brains and different backgrounds and perspectives, but do you think about what that would mean if this was taken to the extreme? 

Kenny Mitchell (07:26): 

Yeah, it's a wonderful question and it actually reminds me of a book that I was reading on my flight over here. And the book is actually about culture and how so much of the way that we see the world is based on who we are versus based on what is actually the things that you see and the things that you experience. And I think what's interesting in terms of what augmented reality can offer is a way to, in some ways, customize your experience based on things that you care about, which I think can be really, really powerful. But it does put a burden from an ethical perspective on how do you manage that? How do you that in a way that makes a lot of sense for consumers going forward? 

James Kotecki (08:07): 

And maybe I'd want to know if there was someone out there who was looking at the world through some radically different lens. Maybe you would just want some a heads up on what that lens was so I could know maybe how they see things. I suppose there could be physical safety issues at some point, but I don't know. We're going down a crazy rabbit hole here. I'm going to pull it back to the actual reality. 

Kenny Mitchell (08:25): 

Okay. Great. 

James Kotecki (08:25): 

I want to talk for a minute about your history because you have a history of working with great brands like Gatorade, McDonald's, and those are drinks, those are foods, those are things that you actually consume physically. With Snap, I imagine it's pretty different. Did you learn lessons from those brands and those experiences that you still apply in your current role? 

Kenny Mitchell (08:46): 

Yeah, absolutely. I think there's experiences I had with Gatorade, as you mentioned, with McDonald's, those were brands that people cared deeply about, people had personal connections to and the value that they delivered, very, very tangible, very, very real and very, very understood. It was imperative for me when I first joined the Snapchat organization to really understand the consumer and the value that is driven through the Snapchat platform. And what you find is that you have folks that are just as incredibly passionate about Snapchat and its ability to allow them to stay close and connected and communicate and do things creatively with their friends and family. And so there's a really clear and easy parallel there between a passion point. One might be around sports, one might be around food, one might be around family, one might be around technology and communicating. So there's some good parallels there that I've been able to [inaudible 00:09:43]. 

James Kotecki (09:43): 

So index to that passion and then everything else branches out from there. 

Kenny Mitchell (09:46): 

That's exactly right. 

James Kotecki (09:48): 

I want to ask you about creativity. I'm reading this here because I think Fast Company once called you one of the most creative people in business. So congratulations on that. Is creativity for you something that's intuitive? Is there something that you can teach? Is there a lesson that you can give us? How do you think about your own creativity? 

Kenny Mitchell (10:06): 

Yeah, I think of creativity through a few different vectors. So creativity, a lot of times people think creativity means you're some form of artist. And I don't think that that's always true. Sometimes creativity comes from the way that you think about and try to solve problems. Like creative problem-solving is a tremendously valuable form of creativity. When it comes to marketing and advertising, it's always that combination of the art and the science. So the science component, you have to have the insights right. You have to really truly understand your consumer, what they believe in, what drives value for them, where their passions lie, where they're motivated, understanding those insights. When it comes to the art side, that requires a bit of subjectivity because there's like tastes related to that. 


And what I try to do is I try to stay in inspired by things that I see around me, things that I experience, try to create safe environments for my team so they feel comfortable being creative, throwing out wild and funny and interesting ideas. And then try to think about things through the lens of this framework that I often use. It's an acronym called CASE. So the C is for creativity, the A is for authentic, the S is for strategic, and the E is for emotion. So we're thinking of big ideas. One, creativity is just approaching things in a unique way, right? 

James Kotecki (11:41): 


Kenny Mitchell (11:41): 

Authentic is it relevant and authentic to your consumer and customer? And also is it real and relevant to your brand? Strategic is, does it actually answer your brief? So creativity without strategy is art. And I'm not in the business of art. I actually am in the business of trying to create some type of conditions for a consumer to take an action. And then E is emotion. Does it make you feel something? Does it make you laugh? Does it inspire you? Does it make you think? And that model and that mindset is that's how you try to foster that environment of creativity. And most of the best advertising work and creative work that you probably love and admire that so many other people do, you would think like, oh, you know what? I actually see this framework of how it's creative, how it's authentic to the brand, what the strategy might be and what it makes me feel. 

James Kotecki (12:35): 

Well, thank you so much for bringing your creative, authentic, strategic emotion to us here in the C Space studio, Kenny Mitchell of Snap. Thank you so much. 

Kenny Mitchell (12:43): 

Oh, thanks for having me. 

James Kotecki (12:44): 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that live conversation from CES 2023. Look up the CES C Space studio for more conversations like that and get even more ces at ces.tech. That's ces.tech. And of course, please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment. I'm James Kotecki talking Tech on CES Tech Talk.