A new profile in New York Magazine on Vice’s rise from a scrappy Canadian magazine to a multi-billion dollar media powerhouse features a number of bizarre anecdotes, most notably one where former CEO Shane Smith told employees to dance on command at a bar just before Intel employees showed up for a marketing meeting.
One of the key moments in Vice’s history was when it secured a deal with Intel to help launch a marketing campaign in order to get “more young people to care about Pentium processors,” according to NY Mag.
In order to win the company’s business, however, it needed to convince the tech company that Vice was legit and not desperate for cash flow. (EXCLUSIVE: Gavin McInnes Weighs In On Vice Media Replacing CEO Shane Smith)
“Shane’s whole thing was, ‘We can’t let them think we’re these poor kids,'” one former employee told NY Mag.
One way to do that was to quickly move into a new office and force employees to look like they’re the fun and hip youngster that Vice hopes to win over as an audience.
“That night, Smith took the marketers to dinner, then to a bar where Vice employees had been told to assemble for a party. When Smith arrived, just ahead of the Intel employees, he walked up behind multiple Vice employees and whispered into their ears, ‘Dance,'” the NY Mag profile reported.
These same people who danced on command were seemingly the same 22-year-olds who “a senior manager once joked” worked “22 hours a day” for “$22,000,” according to the article.
Regardless of how demeaning the exercise was, it proved successful. Soon after, Vice got $25 million from Intel and demonstrated that the media company could do more than just produce edgy content, but also help brands market their products to millennials.
Except, as the article noted, so much of what Vice did to prove itself as the new face of millennial media was a farce. Whether it was demanding employees dance like carnival workers for poverty wages or telling employees to bring friends in when potential clients were visiting to make the workplace seem energetic, not much of Vice’s image looks organic.
All of this is precisely why Vice fits as a perfect metaphor for modern lefty hipsterdom: So much of it is contrived and just waiting to sell out.
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