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Why This Buzzy Instagram Account Opened A Bespoke NYC Newsstand

Why This Buzzy Instagram Account Opened A Bespoke NYC Newsstand

PSFK sits down with Overheard founder Jesse Margolis to find out why the brand launched a physical newspaper at a pop-up newsstand

In Brief:

  • Overheard is an Instagram brand that solicits submissions from followers who have overheard funny snippets of conversation. It now operates several accounts, including ones for cities like San Francisco and London and a college-specific one.
  • In October, Overheard distributed a parody of a newspaper with dozens of retail partners, extending into something decidedly non-digital. The launch was accompanied by a pop-up newsstand in Union Square, differentiating it from a similar stunt in Los Angeles earlier this year.
  • PSFK caught up with Overheard founder Jesse Margolis to talk physical manifestations, reaching the right audience and becoming more than just a social media brand.

PSFK: How did you decide to launch Overheard in a physical manifestation? Why pick editorial and a newsstand?

Jesse Margolis: I think we're uniquely positioned to make a comedy paper. I always loved The Onion, and having city-based accounts with large followings allows us to make an “Insta-friendly” publication and get distribution access that is sought after. So to have the paper available at the best cafes, gyms, hotels, coworking spaces is something that we're able to achieve because of our social accounts. It's essentially a marketing stunt with a really great selection of comedy writers.

How do IRL activations help you engage with and grow your audience?

More than anything, they help us define what Overheard is as a brand beyond Instagram. But creating a product that people can touch, or an experience they can enjoy, really enhances the perspective of what Overheard is. That we're not just a meme account, we're a sort of new media that embraces comedy and local culture.

Overheard took over a newsstand inside NYC's Union Square Park. Courtesy Overheard.

How did you choose the partners and locations that would carry the Overheard Post?

We reach out to what I like to call “the matcha crowd.” Places that are trendy, interesting, or have a lot of reach. But this is ultimately a niche product.

Is this part of a larger strategy to launch Overheard as more than a social media brand?

Yes and no. We will always be a social-first brand. But we are looking to activate more and more in interesting ways. IRL is one. The other is something we are about to launch called The Overheard Hotline: a text service through the Community app where we will be sending out weekly content. Horoscopes, quotes you won't find on IG, a chance to laugh without having to be stuck on social media.

How does a digital brand make an impression in such a saturated media and retail environment?

By having the courage to do something different. No one cares about your avocado toast.

What's next for Overheard?

We have a lot of ideas and some fun plans for 2020. We're just scratching the surface of this. So far our only real products have been coffee sleeves and now print. So, more to do.

“Digital is dead,” according to the social media brand. Courtesy Overheard.


Lead image: Courtesy Overheard