Vice NZ: 'the best branded content is the stuff we would have made anyway'

Vice New Zealand launches branded content series We Are New Zealand in partnership with Electoral Commission

The most effective branded content is content Vice New Zealand would have created regardless of commercial objectives, according to the publication’s head of marketing and business development, David Benge.

Benge told The Drum the brand-funded work that fits seamlessly and naturally within the publication is always the most successful.

“As a general rule, the best branded campaigns for us - the ones that we are most excited about and the ones that are most successful for our clients - are when we make stuff that we want to make and we would have made anyway,” said Benge.

Benge cited the brand’s current campaign for New Zealand’s Electoral Commission as an example of content that “sits within the territory that we want to play in”.

Vice is running a series of videos exploring identity and what it means to be a New Zealander as part of a campaign to drum up enrolments in the lead up to the country’s general election this month.

The series, called ‘We Are New Zealand’, features six installments, each exploring a different individual’s experience in New Zealand and their family, heritage, work and politics. The videos focus on young creative people including a musician, an academic, a tattoo artist, a stand-up comic, a tech start-up founder and a fashion designer.

“We wanted to dive into a place that felt like Vice and delving into this idea of identify felt like a rich territory for us to explore,” said Benge.

“And, yes there is a brand message in there, to get people to think about voting, but the fact of the matter is, diving into the interesting lives of these young folk and getting a sense of what it means to be them, is the sort of stories we want to tell anyway.”

The videos aim to connect with six groups that the Electoral Commission has identified as hard to reach, which includes young Kiwis from Indian, Chinese, Korean, Maori, Pacific Islander and Filipino backgrounds.

“We didn’t want to make fancy ads to convince people to vote – we wanted to create something meaningful for our audience. So, we chose to tell six stories around six different individuals who could be your friends.

“We wanted to get inside the fabric of what being a New Zealander meant, which is intrinsically linked with identity. New Zealand has become so much more multicultural and we wanted to explore this idea of how do you define your identity as a New Zealander in this new melting pot.

“The aim was to make people feel like they are part of a wider community and that they do have a voice and their opinion matters,” said Benge.

Benge said the series was built off a previous collaboration between Vice and the Electoral Commission in a bid to engage with NZ’s young people who haven’t traditionally exhibited large voter turnout.

The series will launch a new film each week in the lead up to the general election in September.

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