Looking to improve your company’s event strategy? Take a look at these 12 events and activations from VICE to learn how.
VICE is a Canadian American media company that produces magazine, news, music, TV, and film content for young adults around the world. The organization was founded in 1994. Since that time, it has grown into an award-winning entertainment powerhouse.
When VICE and its numerous subsidiaries aren’t producing top-notch print and digital content, they’re probably hosting a stellar live event or planning the next great marketing activation. In this article, we’ll look at VICE’s event strategy and pinpoint specific things that you can use to host better conferences, training seminars, and trade expos for your own company.
Source: Art Nerd
29Rooms is a popular event hosted by Refinery29, a VICE subsidiary and the “leading media and entertainment company focused on women”. Those who attend 29Rooms are exposed to an “array of one-of-a-kind experiences” where creativity is celebrated. Attendees are encouraged to unleash their inner artist via dance sessions, painting opportunities, and other stimulating activities.
Key Takeaway: Your event should be more than a collection of speeches and networking lunches. Create an immersive and memorable experience for your attendees and you’ll sell more tickets, achieve more success, and improve event ROI.
Broadly is a division of VICE Media that’s dedicated to covering gender and identity topics. In 2018, the brand hosted the first-ever Broadly Astrology Conference for 150 astrology enthusiasts. Attendees were treated to lectures from top astrology experts, lunch, and an open bar happy hour with “cozmic cocktails,” courtesy of Aliza Kelly Faragher. Folks with interests in the stars and the ways they’re believed to impact daily life had a blast.
Key Takeaway: Broadly Astrology Conference reminds us that it’s okay to host small, intimate affairs. Not every conference you plan needs to be the biggest event in your respective industry like Dreamforce or South By Southwest. When you host smaller gatherings, you give your company the chance to better meet attendee needs, dive into niche topics, and build deeper relationships with your target audience.
Source: Richard McCormick’s
In 2017, MUNCHIES (another division of VICE Media, this one focused on food) held a MUNCHIES Festival with a Nordic theme. In fact, the promotional material for the event invited folks to “eat and drink like a Viking.” The two-day gathering took place in New York City and featured gourmet dishes, street eats, and delicious drinks created by top chefs. It was a fun experience that allowed MUNCHIES fans a chance to taste and experience the food they read about on the MUNCHIES website every day.
Key Takeaway: MUNCHIES Festival 2017 had a theme: Viking food. Have you ever considered giving your events a theme? Maybe you should. Themes help potential attendees understand what your gathering will be about and whether they should buy tickets to it or not. Themes also bind attendees together and give them a shared sense of belonging.
Plus, themes make event marketing much easier. Case in point: instead of saying “Come to our food festival,” MUNCHIES was able to say “Come eat like a Viking.” The second statement is much more powerful and paints a clear picture of what attendees get to do when they’re there.
— VICE TV (@VICETV) August 6, 2016
Experiential marketing is all the rage and few companies capitalize on it as successfully as VICE Media does with its Viceland Bus. The fully refurbished and tricked-out 1991 Starcraft Type B Motorcraft has been specifically designed to host good times. The Viceland team drives it around the country, from city to city and event to event. Then they people into it to party, listen to music, and hang out with celebrities. The bus is so popular, it has its own Instagram page with nearly 50k followers. VICE is also able to use the bus as a traveling billboard and can change the messaging on the outside of it to suit its objectives. In short, the Viceland Bus is the ultimate traveling event!
Key Takeaway: Take a page out of the Viceland’s book and take your events on the road. By hosting a roadshow (a series of identical gatherings that happen, one after the other, in different cities around the world), you’ll be able to connect with more of your target audience.
Smorgasburg is the “largest weekly open-air food market in America.” Every weekend, 20k – 30k people meet in Brooklyn New York to taste food from 100+ local vendors. VICE decided it wanted a part of this action (who wouldn’t?) so they partnered with Smorgasburg to create VICE Night Market. Every other Friday in 2019, starting at 6 pm, the two brands invited attendees into the Villain event venue to eat delicious food, listen to music, and enjoy VICE curated entertainment.
Key Takeaway: Proper corporate event management should include a variety of event types, including partnership events. You will benefit from partnering with like-minded, non-competing brands that serve a similar audience to your company. First, you won’t have to handle every single event planning chore by yourself. Second, you’ll extend your event’s reach because both organizations will be able to execute event branding and marketing strategies.
Source: PHD Media
Delta Launchpad is another partnership event that VICE participated in. Delta wanted to reach a younger audience with roots in startup culture. The airline’s goal was to connect with more business travelers. To do so, they partnered with VICE to make Delta Launchpad. Together, the brands created content around creative processes in the film, music, and food industries and educated attendees on how they could better position themselves to achieve successful careers in those fields.
Key Takeaway: To host effective events, it’s imperative that you know your audience. If you don’t, you won’t be able to properly promote your gatherings, produce engaging content, and sell enough tickets to your conferences. Delta Launchpad worked because Delta knew the audience it wanted to attract and partnered with a brand that serves them.
Noisey is yet another division of the VICE Media brand which is completely dedicated to music. Their event, Noisey Presents: Nights in Irving Plaza, was a concert series that took place from October 30th, 2018 to December 11th, 2018. Some of the artists that performed include Billie Eilish and Pusha T. Noisey partnered with Live Nation, the unquestioned leader in the concert promotion industry, to produce these events.
Key Takeaway: It’s important to secure the best speakers/presenters/entertainers that you possibly can for your conferences, rock shows, comedy tours — whatever it is that you’re promoting. Most people buy tickets to events because of the big names attached to them. Just remember that A-List celebrity speakers aren’t required – you simply have to book names that your audience will recognize and be excited to hear from and engage with.
VICE has become a regular at South By Southwest (SXSW) and in 2019, the media company upped the stakes by turning a downtown Austin parking lot into the coolest roller rink in town. Besides the rolling footwear, those who participated in the pop-up marketing activation got to listen to DJs spin their favorite tunes, order drinks, win free merch, and hang out in the Viceland Bus. Furthermore, the VICE team shot live footage of the festivities and broadcast them on its cable TV network.
Key Takeaway: If you’re looking for new corporate event ideas, remember that nostalgia is a powerful emotion. It’s the main reason why people like to go rollerskating, watch shows set in the 80s (Stranger Things!), and turn up the volume whenever Africa by Toto plays on the radio. Use this fact to your advantage during your next conference or marketing activation.
The Old Blue Last is a popular music venue in East London that has been hosting rowdy rock shows every night of the week since 2004. It was a bar before VICE got its hands on it and legend has it that Shakespeare used to drink there. We’re not sure if that’s true or not, but the bar is a few hundred years old, so who knows? More importantly, The Old Blue Last gives East Londoners the chance to see both local and international touring bands in a live setting — most of the time for free!
Key Takeaway: Free events sometimes get a bad rap, especially when it comes to B2B event marketing. While it’s true that you won’t be able to rely on ticket sales to cover event expenses, there are other ways to minimize losses, such as acquiring event sponsors. And the goodwill you build with your audience will help to ensure greater profits in the future. We suggest you experiment with them if the idea fits your event strategy.
10. VICE on SHOWTIME
VICE and SHOWTIME have partnered together to create an in-depth, gritty news show that follows VICE correspondents as they investigate important stories around the world. The show just began to air on SHOWTIME a couple of weeks ago.
Key Takeaway: Not every event you host needs to be a giant, in-person affair. Virtual events are growing in popularity (and, in light of recent evens, out of necessity) and allow companies to reach new corners of their target markets. There will be some people who can’t attend your annual conference in a distant city because of travel and/or budgetary restrictions. But most folks can fire up their computer and watch your live or recorded sessions on the internet. VICE is already able to reach people via their TV screens, so this strategy is very on brand. But it can easily be used to reach your audiences too!
11. Virtue Worldwide
Virtue Worldwide isn’t an event or marketing activation. It’s a creative agency, born out of VICE Media. Virtue Worldwide has been in operation since 2006 and has worked with notable companies such as Google, Nike, HBO, and eBay on a wide variety of marketing campaigns and memorable experiences.
Key Takeaway: As an event professional, you have the skills and expertise that others don’t. Why not use it to bring in additional revenue for your company? Consider hosting events and/or marketing activations for other, non-competing brands. While this idea won’t fit every company’s objectives, it can help some boost their bottom lines.
Source: Villain Event Venue
Lastly we have Villain, a “transformable event space in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn” that’s owned by VICE. The venue features 15,000 square feet of climate-controlled space; in-house audio, video, and staging; and complete event production and catering services. Villain’s list of past clients includes industry heavyweights like Adidas, Hershey, and Red Bull.
Key Takeaway: Maybe you aren’t ready to host events for other companies like we suggested above. But if you have extra office space, you can increase revenue by renting it out to other organizations to use for their own events.
Main Takeaways: Host a VICE-Level Event
VICE has a creative and diverse event strategy. Here are the main lessons we can learn from studying the numerous conferences, festivals, and marketing activations that they host:
- Experience is Everything: Whatever you do, make sure each of your events provide enjoyable (and memorable!) attendee experiences. You can do this by booking great speakers, choosing a conference theme, and provoking nostalgia.
- Don’t Go It Alone: Who says you have to host every event on your own? Take advantage of partnerships! VICE does this on a regular basis. This strategy will reduce your team’s workload, help boost event marketing, and make the entire process more fun.
- Look For Alternative Revenue Streams: Lastly, consider using your event planning and marketing skills to build new revenue streams for your company. You can host conferences for other brands and/or rent out your own event space for a fee.
Here’s a final tip: invest in event software. There are a lot of details that go into planning a successful conference, training seminar, or concert. Event software will make sure none of them fall through the cracks. Good luck!