Miami Vice: Millennial Whisperer Looks to Grow Its U.S. Hispanic Audience

23% of Vice's U.S. Audience Is Hispanic, Says Vice's Andrew Creighton

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Vice is taking its talents to South Beach.

The publisher is opening up a Miami bureau to produce more articles and videos aimed at the growing number of young Hispanic people in the U.S. The bureau will also serve as the hub for pulling in content from Vice's offices in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

"We noticed that we have something like 23% of our audience in the U.S. that already is a U.S. Hispanic audience. So we have big audience there. But we were probably relying a little bit too much on our international bureaus, and we weren't utilizing the creative pool and creative talent in the U.S. to generate that content as much as we should have," said Vice's president Andrew Creighton.

The growing size of the Hispanic audience in the U.S. would be reason enough for a media company as ambitious as Vice to make the group a priority.

At an estimated 17 million Hispanics in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 32 years old, Hispanics account for "one in 5 of the nation's millennials overall," said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at Pew Research Center. That's based on the definition of millennials as those people born between 1982 and 2000.

Beyond their current population size, another reason Hispanic people in the U.S. are important to publishers and advertisers is because of how young they are. For example, at 34 years old the Hispanic population in Florida has the highest median age of the Hispanic population in any other state, according to 2013 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Put another way, half of the Hispanic population in Florida is under 34 years old, and half of the Hispanic population in every other state is even younger. Coincidentally 34 years old is near the cut-off age for the oldest millennials, meaning that half of the Hispanic population in each state belongs to the millennial generation or younger.

"I think that the Hispanic millennial has a hunger for content that is reflective of their interests and Hispanic heritage because there's just not enough of it out there," said Alejandro Ruelas, co-founder of Sibling, an ad agency focused on multicultural marketing.

Vice isn't the first media company to try to build an audience of young Hispanics and Hispanic-Americans. Fusion originated as a cable news network for Hispanic millennials, but the ABC-Univision joint venture seems to have expanded its audience to include all millennials and been met with reportedly poor traffic results. News sites aimed at the broader English-speaking Hispanic audience in the U.S. have also struggled. NBC launched NBC Latino as a standalone site in July 2012 but folded it into NBC News 16 months later. And VOXXI launched in November 2011 but shut down in March 2015.

"It's hard to create something that would be successful partly because Latino millennials have so many different things that they're thinking about. They're not just thinking about themselves as Latino millennials, but they are thinking of themselves as young Americans," Mr. Lopez said.

That may be to Vice's advantage. The company has shown an aptitude for attracting young people's attentions through its coverage of news, music, tech, food, travel and sports. And as Mr. Creighton noted, 23% of Vice's U.S. audience is already Hispanic, so now Vice is giving that part of its audience more to read or watch that may be relevant to their Hispanic backgrounds.

"We're not creating Vice Espanol. That's not what we're doing here. It's just more Vice content, just with more relevancy to some of the topics that the audience is interested in," Mr. Creighton said.

The Miami office's editorial team will produce all the same types of articles and videos that can normally be found on Vice, but they'll be angled toward Hispanic audiences. In addition to producing new content, the Miami bureau will also pull in content from Vice's outposts in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. And that content won't be siloed under some Vice Latino section; it'll appear within Vice's existing content categories. The publisher also isn't taking a hard line when it comes to what language the content will be produced in.

"If the story is presented in Spanish as we film it, it'll be done in Spanish. If it's done in English as we film it, it'll be done in English," Mr. Creighton said.

For advertisers the move would mean more opportunity to reach U.S. Hispanic youth. Vice has already worked with brands including AT&T and Anheuser-Busch InBev to advertise to Vice's U.S. Hispanic and Latin American audiences.

While Vice's Miami office just opened this month, its business team has hit the ground running. "There will be a significant distribution deal in the pipeline, and there will be some significant Fortune 100 companies involved in what we're doing," Mr. Creighton said, declining to go into details.

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