Vice Knows Its Market – NO BULLSHIT
Juan Romero | On 26, Feb 2015
By Bob Jenkins
Vice is cool. Everyone knows Vice is cool. We know this because, they keep telling us they’re cool, everyone who works there is young (except the billionaire founders of course) and lastly almost as frequently as they tell us they’re cool, they tell us that their generation, the ‘young ones’ to whom and for whom they speak, have grown up as the most media savvy generation ever. In History. All of it – and therefore you can’t bullshit them. You have to tell them the truth.
This was certainly the message coming from Vice producer Ben Shapiro at the presentation on the first day of the fifth edition of DISCOP Istanbul. And, know what? He’s right.
Shapiro began the presentation with a backgrounder on Vice, “for anyone in the audience who isn’t familiar with the brand” which was probably a smart move given the number of people in the audience who definitely won’t see their twenties again. So, for the benefit of any similar readers – here’s a similar rundown.
Vice was founded in Canada in 1994 as a magazine by three guys, Shane Smith, Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes. It now runs nine channels, fashion and lifestyle, Vice, Vice News, music channel Noisey, Motherboard for the tech savvy, Munchies – a food channel for what the young like to eat, Vice Sports, with, naturally, a whole new angle on sports coverage, arts in the form of thecreativeproject, fashion under the tag i-D, and thump another music channel – only louder than Noisey. It is also active in numerous very business-like activities such as design, production and post-production, sales, Brand Strengthening, Professional Account Management, and many others. And it has grown phenomenally – from a total workforce of 80- in 2010 the head office in New York now employs 500 people and Vice has offices in 30 countries worldwide.
All of which is very impressive. But, in many ways, the most impressive item on that list, and the one at the centre of Tuesday’s presentation, is Vice News. This is so, not only because it shows in so many ways that everything Vice says about itself is true, but also because it demonstrates the significant extent to which Vice’s understanding and service of its core market is so different – and so better –than many of its older (in every sense) rivals.
When he ran illustrative examples it was clear that what this translates into is genuine investigative journalism, that doesn’t take either no, or for that matter, horseshit, for an answer.
Since 2013 Vice News has had a slot on HBO in which they run compilations of pieces they have run on Vice News. Shapiro chose a piece on the Shell oil spills in the Niger Delta to illustrate what he meant. This had been compiled by Vice Co-Founder Suroosh Alvi over several months. It was serious, precise, concise, thourghly researched to the point of verging on the flat and academic. But the two really important things to note are that compared to the two and a have minutes of glossy summary which the subject would have received on an ‘older’ channel are (1) this was infinitely better journalism and (2) it is much more popular with Vice’s younger market.