Vice's Virtue shifts from content agency to full-service

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 20 November 2018

Vice's Virtue was born eight years ago in Australia in response to a growing demand from brands who wanted to engage its creative services . Now, Virtue is pivoting from a content agency to a full-service operation and will compete at the big end of town going head to head with the likes of Ogilvy and Leo Burnetts.

The business has scaled up significantly, poaching a number of staff from ad agencies Clemenger and Host and has reset its approach in the APAC region.  

"The talent joining Virtue is a mix of people who are frustrated with current agency relationshps and the current agency environment; that are struggling to get above the treadmill and want to create stuff that matters," Virtue head of brand partnerships Alex Light told AdNews.

No longer wanting to be viewed as a niche agency partner, Light said Virtue is a full-service creative agency and has differentiated itself from other in-house publishing agencies.

"Our competitors are not the in-house brand studios of the New York Times or BuzzFeed," Light said.

The new approach across APAC sees Virtue operate offices in Singapore, Seoul and Sydney to service the region and refocus on the collision of advertising and entertainment. It comes as new leadership is placed at the helm of Virtue in APAC with Aaron Pearce joining as managing director.

"The advertising industry is very much in flux and there's a lot of change happening. Frankly, there is a lot of consumer trends on how advertising is being consumed that's putting pressure on the industry," he said, adding consumers are increasingly choosing to engage with platforms that don't host ads, like Netflix and Stan.

"What we believe, in this world of on demand advertising, is that you need to create something that people seek out. We believe that brands need to create their own visual aesthetic and style and being able to create something that gives a consumer the same feeling they get from engaging with the brand as they do watching Netflix."

virtueausteam-1260x840.jpgThe Vice Australia team

Light said it's Virtue's ability to create an aesthetic for brands, as it has for the Vice brand for the last 20 years, that makes it stand out against other creative work in this market.

"There's obviously lots of fantastic work being made in ad industry in Australia and great work from agencies, but I think there is a lack of consistency," he said.

A reason for this lack of consistency could be the legacy structures ad agencies have to fight against, which Light identified as the biggest challenge in the industry - but one that Virtue doesn't face.

"That's a significant advantage we have over bigger players," he said.

With creative campaigns with Unilever, Pernod Ricard, CUB, eBay and more already on the books, Light said Virtue is focused on producing more work that interupts category norms and recruiting more talent.

"We will be really exploring the skillsets we want to add that aren't your traditional advertising creatives or advertising stategists that can add something interesting to our offering as we grow," he said.

Work from Virtue:

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