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While digital media executives spent the first week of May duking it out for advertiser dollars during their annual NewFronts presentations, Vice Media held a different kind of fight Friday afternoon.
The youth media brand treated its NewFront guests to a boxing match between Vice executive Niall Cooney and celebrity chef Eddie Huang, who hosts Huang’s World on Viceland. The three-round bout, which Huang won, came complete with an advertising tie-in: Each competitor was fighting to win one of the attendees free ad space on Viceland. The entire spectacle was live-streamed on Facebook.
The fight capped off an afternoon in which Vice actually presented a more detailed pitch to advertisers than it has at previous NewFront events. The hosts of Viceland talk show Desus & Mero emceed the presentation, complete with the usual jokes about the advertising world. And videos featuring buttoned-up Madison Avenue types and Vice executives touted the company’s numbers.
Conspicuously absent from the event this year was Vice CEO Shane Smith, who in a pre-taped video joked that he was not allowed to attend the NewFronts following his performance last year — in which he started the presentation lying on the stage and announced to the crowd that he’d “had a few ales.” In fact, he was traveling for a shoot.
The presentation that followed was light on news, as is often the case with Vice NewFronts, and instead focused on showing advertisers that Vice knows how to create video and editorial perfectly suited for its millennial male audience. Among the projects it touted was Viceland’s first scripted original, the satire What Would Diplo Do?, which stars James Van Der Beek as the famous DJ.
The company didn’t discuss ratings for its one-year-old cable channel, Viceland, saying instead that its audience had grown every quarter since its launch, and that the household income for viewers of Viceland is among the top five for ad-supported cable entertainment networks.
Despite a more buttoned-down approach to its NewFront, the event still felt authentically Vice. Executives only appeared in prerecorded videos, which Desus Nice and The Kid Mero poked fun at for featuring little diversity. And the hosts, who joked that they joined Vice because they could smoke weed and swear on air, surely broke the record for most F-bombs at the NewFronts.
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