Vice Media Group Blasts “Shallow” Industry Use Of Gender, Age And Ethnicity In Advertising, Unveils New Brand & Google Teaming At NewFronts

Vice Media Group took aim at the “archaic” and “shallow” use of gender, age and ethnicity in advertising during a virtual NewFronts presentation to digital media buyers.

The company also unveiled a new brand identity and announced a partnership with Google Web Stories and in-person events designed for the Covid-vaccinated landscape.

Vice Chief People Officer Daisy Auger-Dominguez called the media industry’s use of personal data to drive advertising based on demographics a “discriminatory” practice. “We can all agree that this is a shallow and diminishing way of grouping human beings,” she said. For emphasis, as she spoke, the screen showed two head shots: one of Elton John, the other of Donald Trump. Both are 74-year-old, white, high-net-worth individuals who would be deemed a “tightly defined” demographic under traditional ad protocols. “Good luck creating a campaign to break through to that ‘tightly defined’ demographic,” Auger-Dominguez said.

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Demo use is also not as effective as data-focused approaches, Vice maintains. The company cited independent case studies indicating that contextual data helped clients exceed their return on advertising goals by 289%, and reduced cost per acquisition across display ads by 2.5 times.

In place of demos, Vice offered a “community-driven approach” and a new contextual targeting solution emphasizing sub-topics, sentiment, emotion and predictive models. The company said its methodology, which evolved during an 18-month development period, will enable marketers to “eschew bias and let the data” dictate decisions.

Via a partnership with Google, the tech giant’s Web Stories platform will be connected with VMG. It will be featured across all of Vice, Vice News, Refinery29 and i-D’s web platforms.

As the coronavirus pandemic gradually subsides with vaccines proliferating, Vice said the “experience economy” is about to take effect. The company is planning several initiatives designed to take advantage of the landscape, centered around music hub Noisey and female-skewing digital outfit Refinery29, which Vice acquired in 2019.

“Consumers are going to soon re-emerge into a cultural renaissance with energy unlike anything seen before,” the company said in a press release accompanying the NewFronts pitch.

Refinery29’s multi-city event 29Rooms is due to return, showcasing fashion, beauty, tech and entertainment under the 2021 theme of “Make Contact.” Refinery will also launch a multi-day experience called “All Black Everything” via its Unbothered community for and by Black women. The event is described as a “bold convening of young, Black women.”

Noisey’s new Residency effort will be a multi-platform venture tying streaming and digital with in-person performances. Live music has been one of the areas of popular culture brought to a complete halt by the pandemic, but heading into 2020 the live music business was thriving.

The new branding for Vice Media Group fashions the company’s name in a black-and-white, all-caps circle. Along with the logo, the company introduced the new tagline, “What Happens Now.”

Julie Ruiz, VP and creative director of design for Vice, said the goal was to tie together the various parts of Vice and emphasize its unique perspective dating to its founding in 1994. “We were inspired by the idea of a forever-evolving logo, constantly moving forward and representing the global content we create,” she said. “The new visual identity also represents Vice Media Group’s unique lens of culture that navigates what’s happening in the world and highlights the spectrum of content we create.”

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