Vice cashes in on ‘total lack of trust’ in traditional media, global GM claims

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.02.19 PMThe rise of online independent publishers has coincided with a loss of trust in traditional media companies who the public feel are either owned or bullied by Governments, according to the global general manager of youth media brand Vice.

Hosi Simon, who at the weekend confirmed the launch of Vice News in Australia and the expansion of its local team from 40 to 70 by the end of next year, described the media crisis as “acute”, with their future further complicated by the “liberation of information”.

“Out of this liberation a lot of media alternatives have shown up,” he said.

Simon also told marketers they have huge opportunities as everything in the media landscape is “broken down and reinvented”.

Speaking at the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) conference in Sydney yesterday, Simon said the rise of independent publishers has been sparked by the “march of two narratives”.

“Trust has been lost in politicians, experts, systems, corporations and brands and most importantly we see a total lack of trust in the media,” he said. “The media is in crisis. People think the media is owned by the government and pushed around by the government.

“There has also been a liberation of information and out of this liberation a lot of media alternatives have shown up.”

But while many start-ups have launched, Simon claimed Vice has cornered a market by targeting the youth sector through video content, a media he branded an “empathy machine” which will not be “sanitised”.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 11.36.57 AM“There is cluttered information and an overload of all these things coming through people’s feeds, but video has the power to slow down these headlines, to connect more deeply with culture and people and stories and create immersive experiences,” he said, adding that the youth market is “the important” one to communicate with.

He said the average age of Vice’s Australian staff is 24 and a half, and all have a “finely tuned bullshit detector”.

“We want to build the largest youth media company in the world,” Simon added.

Turning to marketing, Simon said the reinvention of the media environment has created “huge opportunities” for brands to create longer term relationships with consumers rather than “the standard ad model where one piece of communication has no lasting value and no story behind it”.

In the ad market the CPM is a “race to the bottom”, he said.

Simon used Vice’s partnership with Intel for arts channel The Creators Project, which launched back in 2009 and in Australia earlier this year, as an example of how brands can exploit the new-look world.

“That idea came out of a formal brief, a terrible brief at that, and five years later it’s a shining example of what content marketing or platform marketing or brand marketing can be,” he said.

The IP around the content is co-owned by Intel and Vice with Simon suggesting there is little worth in brands owning the IP outright.

“What we say to brands is why do you want to own the IP? If we co-own or we own it we can get it on to TV.  With then Creators Project we have got it on TV in Mexico and China with Intel branding, and we got paid for it.

“No one got rich but it was the holy grail of marketing. You are creating this content that is looked upon as so valuable, so entertaining and authentic that TV stations around the world paid to make half hour shows.

“This project started very small and we just kept doing things [with Intel], working with artists, and a few years later you have this massive thing on your hands.”

The Creators Project now has 500m video views and 500,000 youtube subscribers and is presently the “biggest community of multimedia arts in the world”, he told the conference.

He advised brands “to believe in yourself” and start a content strategy by telling stories about the brand and not to “dumb it down for millennials” in an attempt to be “cool and youthy”.

“Be yourself. Every brand has the right to tell a story and every brand has a great story to tell,” he said. “We like to work with people that have an interest to try new things, to be brave, to disrupt.

“What we are interested in is creating long lasting value, like The Creators Project…that’s where we think the biggest value lies, rather than an incredibly amazing one-off piece that might get 10m views. That’s a campaign in a different format.

“When people ask me why The Creators Project has been so successful the answer is simple. We just kept putting stuff out.”

Steve Jones


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