'Brands want to be edgy and cool' but nerves lead to inauthenticity, says Vice MD

Vice's Matt Elek and Facebook's Rob Newlan: onstage at Advertising Week
Vice's Matt Elek and Facebook's Rob Newlan: onstage at Advertising Week

Matt Elek, managing director of Vice EMEA, told an audience at Advertising Week Europe that many brands which decide to advertise with the subversive media group end up compromising their initial vision and end up with inauthentic content.

In the session hosted by Rob Newlan, director of Facebook’s Creative Shop, Elek said: "You need to have a brand interested in what we’re doing as an advertising vehicle.

"A lot of brands say they want to be edgy and authentic, but by the time they get into what edgy is going to entail, they get nervous about anything that’s not mainstream.

Elek cited Intel as a brand that worked with Vice and was "very open-minded about us pushing the boundaries" and which "revolutionised the way they looked at young people". Vice has also worked with speaker brand Bose and created content by collaborating with DJ and musician Fat Boy Slim, resulting in film designed to appeal to the millennials market.

"I guess we want to find brands that are just not everything that’s contained in the pages of Vogue," Elek said. "Brands that want to do something different."

But the reality is that very few brands want to do "risky stuff", he added. While some are daring, others are averse, and end up making "noise" that has "no real cut-through and value when you look back at it".

"If you’re taking no risks, you can’t expect to get major rewards," Elek said. "Frustration comes when a brand says ‘we want to be edgy and cool’, but then says, ‘We don’t want any swear words’." The consumer sees through inauthenticity, Elek stressed.


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