While Vice Media is in the midst of a downward slide, its in-house agency Virtue has capped off a boon year with the naming of a new chief creative officer (CCO).
Virtue announced Friday (4 January) it promoted former group creative director Cameron Farrelly to the spot of top creative at the agency.
Vice Media chief executive officer Nancy Dubuc said in November the company will be allocating more of its resource toward Virtue, after the Brooklyn-based media company took a $157m write-down and announced it had plans to reduce its workforce by 15%.
Farrelly told The Drum that Vice's support and infrastructure allow Virtue to push its entertainment-focused philosophy.
"We believe that consumer brands need to think and act like entertainment brands, as originators of entertainment, rather than facilitators of marketing. The last 12 months have shown there's an appetite to do things differently. Brave clients know that, smarts brands know that, consumers know it, we know it. Do something meaningful, something that feels more familiar to entertainment than it does marketing," said Farrelly.
Since the beginning of 2018, Virtue has brought in 20 new clients in North America, including Google Chrome, Bushmills, Sephora, Marriott Rewards and 20th Century Fox. It also opened offices in Sydney, Singapore and Seoul and launched La Reyna, a Latinx-focused agency founded in partnership with director Robert Rodriguez.
Virtue president Ryan Mack said Vice brings four key offerings to the table: access to proprietary insights and data, its production infrastructure, access to creative talent and distribution opportunities through third-parties and owned-and-operated channels.
Mack said Virtue hasn't felt the staff cuts its parent company has, though the agency does manage a fluid roster of employees who work mostly on medium- and long-term projects.
"If the work is there and we continue to scale, then we add heads. If there's an adjustment in type of work, then we adjust staff accordingly. The nature of our work is very much medium- to long-term project based. We're not scared of that.
"Many agencies are hesitant to take on a high-volume of project-based work because it doesn't align with stable, full-time staff that are easily managed. We kind of just bite the bullet and we have to manage that ourselves," said Mack.
Since 2016, Virtue's headquarters has grown from a staff of 40 to over 130 employees. In his new role as CCO, Farrelly will oversee all creative output in Virtue's Brooklyn headquarters as well as the Los Angeles and Canada offices.