Digital Video NewFronts

Vice buttons up at its 2018 NewFronts event

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Nancy Dubuc at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, when she was president and chief executive officer of A&E Television Networks.
Nancy Dubuc at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, when she was president and chief executive officer of A&E Television Networks. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

It was a much more subdued atmosphere at Vice Media's pitch to digital ad buyers on Friday afternoon than in the company's NewFronts past. Guests were still greeted with glasses of champagne and wine, but instead of a boxing match or Vice co-founder Shane Smith lying down drunk on stage, they encountered a presentation much like the other NewFronts pitches this week.

Vice's new CEO, Nancy Dubuc, spoke for the first time publicly since it was announced in March that she will be taking the reins from Smith, though she doesn't officially start until May 29.

"I remind Shane I am on Cobra," the former head of A&E Networks joked.

Dubuc proclaimed herself a creative and a disrupter at heart, saying that's what drew her to Vice.

Smith, who didn't speak at the event, will become executive chairman focusing on strategic deals and content development.

It's not surprising that Vice went a more traditional route this year. The presentation came as Vice deals with sexual harassment allegations and reports of a "boys' club" culture at the company. In late January, Vice said Chief Digital Officer Mike Germano, who had been on leave during an internal investigation after he was named in the Times story, would not be returning. The company's president, Andrew Creighton, has also been under investigation.

There were several other new faces on stage, including Marsha Cooke, senior VP of content strategy; Dawn Williamson, head of U.S. sales; and Dominique Delport, president of international and chief revenue officer for all of four days on Friday.

Vice introduced several new shows, including, Viceland's "The Hunt for the Trump Tapes," an eight-part series featuring Tom Arnold as he uses his celebrity connections to search for the truth behind the rumored recordings involving Donald Trump, which was met with a large round of applause. There's also a docu-series looking at the women running for political office during the 2018 midterm elections.

In previous years, Vice NewFronts were much more of a party than a presentation to advertisers.

At the 2016 event, Shane laid down on stage and recited poetry. Last year, Eddie Huang, host of Viceland's "Huang World." and Vice chief of staff and producer Niall Cooney went head-to-head in a boxing match.

This year, Vice closed out its presentation with a performance by the cast of "My House," which explores the underground ballroom scene of "voguers."

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