Flavorpill was once a list of cultural events that co-founders Sascha Lewis and Mark Mangan sent out to a few pals in New York. It’s now an e-mail that goes out to a few hundred thousand subscribers in four U.S. cities and London. It owns five other Web properties, including music site Earplug and art site Artkrush. What DailyCandy is to fashion, Flavorpill is to the subset of urban culture — DJ appearances, gallery openings, film revivals — often tagged as “downtown.” It’s a cultural signifier that the recorded voice greeting callers to Flavorpill’s Manhattan offices is breathy, British, female, and young, as it is at another New York-based hipster media play, Vice.
Flavorpill employs just 10 full-time. Revenues this year, insiders say, will be around $3.5 million. Like other smallish players in this space, it’s becoming adept out of necessity at building bridges between its sensibilities and those of big mainstream advertisers. For Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser Select brand, Flavorpill chose 10 artists to design ads for its own Web sites. But the beer baron ended up liking these ads so much that it ran them in music magazine The Fader. And once Web visitors vote on their favorites later this year, one artist’s ads will appear in an multi-city outdoor campaign next year. Thus a small media company started out selling its audience and cool quotient, which is old news, but ended up designing ads that will run more widely, which is new. Flavorpill’s moves describe a fresh reality of marketing: The line between which entity creates media and which creates advertising is suddenly and strangely malleable.