Vice pre­pares to grip Arab youth

The iconic and of­ten con­tro­verisal mil­len­nial me­dia brand plans to launch in the UAE be­fore the end of the year.

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - By Austyn Al­li­son

Youth me­dia brand Vice should launch in the MENA re­gion within three to six months.

Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith vis­ited the UAE last week to “get the ball rolling on Vice’s op­er­a­tions in MENA,” said the com­pany.

This is the first time Smith has been in the re­gion since Vice and Dubai-based me­dia house Moby Group an­nounced a part­ner­ship nine months ago.

“We’re meet­ing clients, we’re meet­ing govern­ment of­fi­cials, we’re meet­ing staff, we’re meet­ing po­ten­tial staff,” he told Cam­paign.

Saad Mohseni, CEO of Moby Group, said the launch will be “in the next three months – give or take three months”. The ini­tial launch will be an Ara­bic web­site, with a mix­ture of video and writ­ten con­tent in Ara­bic, sub­ti­tled or dubbed. Even­tu­ally the site will be­come 50:50 lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional con­tent.

Vice plans to have 50 staff in place by the end of the year. Some have al­ready been ap­pointed, in­clud­ing Aws Al-Jezairy, a three-and-a-hal­fyear vet­eran of Vice UK, who has been brought in as man­ag­ing edi­tor of Vice Ara­bia.

US-based Vice is widely known for its off-the-wall re­port­ing that has in­cluded guides to cross dress- ing, a re­porter be­ing em­bed­ded with Is­lamic State and a first-per­son ac­count of in­ject­ing snake venom to get high. But, Smith said, “The sex, drugs and rock and roll era was my era, [when Vice was pri­mar­ily a mag­a­zine]. Now we have more nom­i­na­tions for sports awards than ESPN this year.” He added: “Vice has grown up ex­po­nen­tially.”

The brand’s pro­gram­ming, all geared to­wards mil­len­ni­als, in­cludes fi­nance and food of­fer­ings. And it has been wel­comed by lead­ers from Abu Dhabi’s TwoFour54 me­dia zone and the Na­tional Me­dia Coun­cil as it looks for a base. “Ev­ery­one we’ve met is in­cred­i­bly ex­cited,” said Smith. “We’re in­cred­i­bly ex­cited.”

A pi­o­neer of branded con­tent, Vice will also be “pulling a lot of our cur­rent client list with us when we come,” said Smith. “We cor­po­rately rep­re­sent 10 of the 20 big­gest ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets in the world. So I think we’ll be in good stead.” Those in­clude An­heuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and Unilever. WPP is an investor in Vice, and that hold­ing group’s CEO Sir Martin Sor­rell is on Vice’s board.

In­cred­i­bly ex­cited: Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith

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