How Will Vice's Viceland Cable Channel 'Re-Imagine' TV Commercials? Three Imaginative Theories

If It Doesn't Just Mean Branded Content, This Must Be the Plan

By Published on .

Vice has used the Viceland name before, for performance showcases at SXSW in Austin.
Vice has used the Viceland name before, for performance showcases at SXSW in Austin. Credit: VICE Media LLC

By now you've probably seen the news that Viceland, the coming-in-2016 cable channel from Vice (in partnership with A&E Networks), is not only going to shake up TV, it's going to "re-imagine" the TV commercial -- according to Vice.

You may be wondering: Will the media publish anything Vice says? The answer: Yeah, pretty much.

You may also be wondering: How can Viceland re-imagine the TV commercial? The answer is less clear, and Vice declined to elaborate when we asked yesterday. Assuming Vice doesn't just mean whole TV series promoting the underwriters, here are three theories for the opportunities that everyone else is missing but will soon appear in Vice sales presentations:

Millenializationizing. Everyone knows marketers are desperate to reach millennials. Vice targets millennials and so will Viceland commercials, which is great news for marketers, because by spending money on Viceland commercial time, brands can seamlessly and organically millennialize their marketing spend, which will in turn millennialize viewers' purchase intent, resulting in rising levels of purchases by millennials -- and thus millennialized corporate earnings as well as millennialized PowerPoint slides (with, for instance, pie charts showing projections of rising millennial-centric sales year-over-year), which will be a hit in boardrooms across the land.

The 'Snapchat of TV commercials.' Everyone also knows millennials love fleeting media that quickly vanishes -- even if it doesn't really vanish. By pioneering a new disappearing-TV-commercial format, Viceland will enable viewers to experience a full hour of uninterrupted programming per 60-minute block. Actually, make that seemingly uninterrupted -- because the commercials were there at one point, they just disappeared!* Millennials (who, of course, hate commercials) will be incredibly appreciative that Viceland sponsors didn't bombard them with unwanted, interruptive marketing messages -- so appreciative, in fact, that sponsors' positive brand perception ratings will be off the charts**, which, of course, will also be great fodder for boardroom-ready PowerPoint slides.

The 'Tinder of TV commercials.' If the Snapchat-of-commercials approach doesn't work and advertisers demand that Viceland actually show non-vanished ads, Viceland can help those advertisers better understand the elusive millennial market while also enabling millennials to engage in an authentic real-time conversation with brands. How? By allowing viewers to swipe right if they like an ad, and left if they don't. For now, the technology works best on smartphones, though Viceland will enter into discussions with Samsung to introduce a swipe-enabled brand of Viceland TVs for the home. (Non-TV-owning millennials will buy them for either ironic or nostalgic reasons, like how they keep buying record players and vinyl.) Ads that are swiped right will keep playing while those swiped left will stop; in a Big Data play, Viceland will be able to sell troves of left/right data to brands and agencies.***

*according to Vice CEO Shane Smith

**according to Viceland's research department

***according to ... oh, I don't know, Wall Street analysts, maybe? Honestly, I didn't expect you to read this far. Move along now -- nothing to see here.

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

Most Popular