Denise Vitola | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Denise Vitola

VP, Brand Integration PR, Influencer and Social

Current location

“If you don’t embrace innovation you will become extinct. Innovation is the pipeline to the future. It will grow the business and enable you to connect with your audience."

There was a time when healthcare giant Bayer was hesitant about investing in social media. Fortunately, along came marcomms pro and health and wellness influencer Denise Vitola, who says she wakes up every day on a mission to make people feel inspired, healthier and stronger-willed. Vitola’s ‘No Apologies. Period.’ campaign for Midol had a deep and long-lasting impact both at Bayer internally, and externally at a pivotal time for women’s rights. From the inclusive language embedded in the campaign, which referred to ‘menstruators’ or ‘people who menstruate’ to the human impact of the campaign, not to mention the huge social buy-in, the campaign made waves and scooped awards including a Global SABRE and Best Social Media/Social Networking Campaign at the North American SABREs. 

Self-described as playful and proactive, bold and badass, Vitola began her career in sports marketing. Having worked her way up to success with household-name brands for MSL, she had an ah-ha moment in 2014 when she began to apply her success to helping people get stronger and healthier through marketing, to her own channels and expertise. A certified nutrition and health coach who teaches spin three times a week, Vitola says she’s well-ing the world while well-ing herself. 

How do you define innovation?
Being at the forefront of creating new and fresh thinking that meets consumers where they are at.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
I love how Burger King uses social media to connect with it's audience. I also love how Dunkin leaned in with Charli to create drinks and apparel that sold out. These are fresh new ways that really excite consumers.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
I find fast food is really leading in innovative ideas and executions. I truly believe digital is the way of the future now more than ever so brands and companies need to out digital at the core of all they do. I think Mid size agencies that are building out integrated marketing are meeting the needs of companies like mine.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
I consider myself to be pretty innovative so I'd say taking a leap from PR to integrated to digital to influencer - being a forever learner, leaning into to start my own agency and then heading to the corporate side really demonstrates my ability to live in the world of innovation.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Jeff Jarrett, CMO at Bayer Consumer Health. He is extremely creative and measured. The questions he asks me challenges me and makes me a stronger better comms person.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Look at the world around me. Ask a consumer some questions. I find my husband to be a great springboard for ideas.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Easy. If you don't embrace it you will become extinct. Innovation is the pipeline to the future. It will grow the business and enable you to connect with your audience.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Hands down fitness...I am already a group fitness instructor teaching spin. I would do much more like coaching and influencing.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
RBG death, Queen Elizabeth death, even Betty White dying. Seeing these women pass on, inspires me more and more to pave the way for women.

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
I believe we can operate more efficiently by allowing for more remote/hybrid work. I believe in collaboration in office but I also think taking the stress out of commuting and overall having to check in somewhere enables us to produce better.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Ensure we are creating for diverse audiences with our innovation and when we innovate make sure it is useful to those audiences.